By Anita Nkirote.
Winners of the last National Farmers Awards will be unveiled tomorrow. The annual fete recognizes the best of the best in Kenya’s agriculture sector.
The program has been going on annually and the last national judging was conducted in the year 2019 with subsequent judging missions adjourned due to the outbreak of COVID-19 and adherence to containment measures imposed by the Ministry of Health. The winners of the 2019 edition were not feted due to the same disruption.
The announcement of the 2019 trophy grabbers coincides with the flagging off of the 2023 competition whose winners will be announced in September as the scheme resumes its normal calendar. This year’s top category winners will be rewarded by President William Ruto at Jamhuri Park during the Nairobi International Show, as per tradition.
The awards were started in 2013 as a Public Private Partnership between the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development and agriculture inputs supplier, Elgon Kenya Limited.
The overall objective of the National Farmers Awards is; To promote agribusiness and encourage participation and adoption of commercial farming as a choice career, especially among the youth who traditionally had shunned the industry as an undertaking of the old and illiterate.
The competition has been undertaken under eight categories with a view to enhancing inclusivity in Agricultural production and productivity; contribution to the achievement of economic and social rights;
In order to ensure that the Scheme supports the Government agenda of having vibrant MSMEs towards increased agricultural productivity and value addition; the Secretariat has introduced a 9th category: Micro, Small, and Medium Category where the MSMEs will be competing against each other in promoting technology adoption towards efficiency and effectiveness, creativity, innovativeness in operations and their contribution to employment creation and Gross Domestic Product (GDP);
The Scheme has additionally included the 4k-club category to encourage children to have an interest in Agribusiness at an early age;
The scheme will continue to contribute towards the achievement of the targets under the three anchors (Increase small-scale farmer, pastoralist and fisherfolk incomes; Increase agricultural output and value add and Increase household food resilience) of the Agricultural Sector Transformation and Growth Strategy (ASTGS)(2019-2029;
With the inclusion of the new category, the competition categories have been expanded to nine categories:
- Small-scale farmer gearing to commercialization(annual turnover less than 10M per annum)
- Medium-scale farms (annual turnover less than 10M per annum)
- Youth in Agriculture
- Women in Agriculture
- Physically challenged persons in Agriculture
- Micro, Small and Medium enterprises in Agriculture
- Floriculture farms:
- Floriculture farms less than 30 Ha
- Floriculture farms more than 30 Ha
- Special category (Breeders/Propagators)
- Agro-input dealers (annual turnover less than 10M per annum)
- Agro-input dealers (annual turnover of more than 10M per annum)
Process of rewarding the winners
- Recognition of winners by His Excellency the President during the Nairobi International Trade fair. (No.1 in all the eight categories)
- Gala dinner (all three winners in every category 1 to 3)
- Profiling the winners in the media i.e., Seeds of Gold.
- Uptake of technology: A number of farmers and especially the youth have adopted farming under green-house technology thereby doubling or tripling their agricultural outputs;
- The exploitation of businesses along agricultural value chain nodes: the competition has resulted to innovativeness where some youth are now engaged in the germination of seedlings and selling them to other farmers or offering germination services;
- Increased business volume: the number of winners has reported increased business volume as a result of the prominence given through interviews conducted in electronic media, publications from Gala dinner or Seeds of Gold magazine.
- Expansion of area under agricultural enterprises: Some winners have expanded their agricultural enterprises e.g. Wanjiku Ngarama in Naivasha has increased her green-houses from two to eight;
- Engagement in high-value enterprises: More farmers under the various categories have now shifted to high-value enterprises resulting to increased incomes through increased productivity.
- Inclusivity; The inclusion of the various categories of people in the competition ensures that they exploit their potential and contribute to employment creation and improved livelihoods.