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Coming soon: All-in-one horticultural training centre

Kenya is on the verge of achieving yet another milestone with the completion of the horticulture Practical Training Centre (PTC).

Developed under the auspices of the Fresh Produce Exporters Association of Kenya (FPEAK), with a Ksh120 million grant from the Netherlands government, the 40-hectare centre is situated in Thika, where everything horticulture will be showcased.

“Here, farmers will be exposed to the practical way of successfully growing all types of horticultural produce”, said FPEAK chief executive Dr Stephen Mbithi who has
overseen the establishment of the centre over the past three years.

He added that the place will accommodate the different categories of horticultural produceflowers, fruits, vegetables, herbs and nuts.

All subjects in the chain starting with land preparation to postharvest handling, including value addition will be practically demonstrated. A detailed report on the establishment and development of the centre and where it will place Kenya as a leading player in the global horticulture industry is being compiled by FPEAK and the
Horticultural News magazine.

Suffice it to say that the centre is poised to be a showcase of modern farming technology and will put into account the diverse ecology of the country, where produce for all altitudes and climatic zones will be on display.

To attest to its importance, even as plans for its launch go into high gear, it is already hosting events, attracting partnerships and visitors from all over the world. The opening is tentatively slated for November.

In the latest development, the PTC is set to benefit from a new grant of 1.5 million euros from Netherlands under the NUFFIC project – that specifically finances capacity building in higher education (NICHE).

This is a joint project with the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture & Technology (JKUAT), the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), with the PTC taking the lead in managing the project locally.

A yet-to-be identified Dutch service provider (usually an institution of higher learning/ practical training) will manage the funds and the project in the Netherlands. This financing is limited to curriculum development and research capacity development, and is different from the current one that has been developing training facilities.

Under this project, all courses at the PTC and JKUAT on horticulture will be reviewed, and detailed curriculum including training materials/booklets developed.

There is also a plan to accredit the courses locally and internationally, and undertake a detailed Training of Trainers for the PTC and JKUAT.

This way, there will be an industry input into what happens at JKUAT to improve relevance to the sector, and also JKUAT input into what happens at PTC, to enhance training skills.

This project will run for three years, and is to be launched in August/September.
By Michael Ouma

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