It is a day to be remembered with nostalgia, 17th August, 2016 when 48 students who had completed a 4-month Chinese Foreign-Aid distances Training, converged at Kenya Forest Research institute (KEFRI)-Muguga for award of completion certificates. The graduates composed of 20 in food storage and 33 in Food security class and four course co-coordinators; Benard Mwangangi, Sigrid Ekman, Hillary Ngeno and Ruth Githieya. The students were drawn from different parts of the Country and working in different organizations along the maize value chain- Government Agricultural extensions officers, officials of farmer co-operatives, Non-Governmental organizations and private business. Mr. Mwangangi commended key achievers, the likes of Mr. Martin Kigano and Francis Waweru of Ng’arua millers and Laikipia Maize value chain development networks respectively, who are in their sixties, for performing extremely well by beating younger participants at use of ICTs to interact with Henan University professors during training sessions. The course sponsored by the Henan University of Technology in China and Kenya’s Agriculture Sector Development Support Programme (ASDSP) had imparted a lot of knowledge and generated a lot of interest in the grain post-harvest management technologies applicable to the Kenya’s situation.
Florence Wanja of the Ministry of Agriculture Nakuru County said that the training was refreshing and challenging. She noted that the solutions and advanced technologies China uses in grain storage and handling should be applied in Kenya to safe thousands of tons of cereals lost annually due inadequate post-harvest management technologies. In her speech, Ms. Maren Amoko of ASDSP implored the graduates to go out and solve trading challenges, grain processing and climate change issues affecting the grain subsector in their area of jurisdiction. The Guest of honour, Mr. P. Nyaga, head of Plant protection services at the Ministry of Agriculture headquarters, informed the participants that a survey carried out in 2010 found out that 2.4 million 90kg bags had been lost due to fungal, bacterial and viral infestation. In the same year 155,000 bags of maize was mobbed up in Mombasa and incinerated due to aflatoxin contamination. In the year 2015 nine thousand bags of maize were found contaminated with aflatoxin in Mombasa and condemned as unfit for human consumption. He urged the participants to use knowledge learned to bring down such losses.
The training had already born fruits through networks and partnership created by internet and mobile phone applications among the online course participants. Judy Musyoki of Cereal Growers Association (CGA) in Kitui County said that she has already used the knowledge gained in the training to write a proposal for 4 maize value chain groups in her area. Two warehouses have already been supported and the four groups provided with moisture meters. Mr. Mwombe of Trans-Nzoia County, created networks with members of Ngarua millers and certified warehouses in Laikipia County during the course, he organized a tour to Laikipia County for maize value chain organizations in Trans-Nzoia. The group members were challenged and motivated to start similar warehouses and a milling plant under the name Nzoia Milling and Marketing Cooperative society by end of the year.
We acknowledge and applaud our lecturers of Henan University of Technology, ASDSP, course coordinators and our respective institutions for supporting and allowing us undertake such a wonderful course. We have set the pace and let others follow suit.
(The writer is a pioneer Food storage 2016 class for Directors and factory managers; +254-726462581, Ministry of Agriculture Trans-Nzoia County-Kenya)