1st October, 2019 was a landmark event as Egerton University and the Nakuru Irrigation Acceleration (IAP@Nakuru) partners launched the Climate and Water Smart Agriculture (CaWSA) – Centre. The IAP is a multi-stakeholder platform made up of private sector, academia/research, state agencies and farmers established in February 2017.
The guest of honour was Dr. Immaculate Maina, County Executive Committee Member for Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Irrigation, Nakuru County assisted by Dr. Alfred Kibor representing the VC. SNV Country Director was represented by Abraham and the Smart Water for Agriculture (SWA) team. The event was attended by over 180 farmers, exhibitors, students and staff.
The CaWSA-Centre was an institutional response to demand for knowledge and skills in the irrigated value chain that has emerged as farmers and stakeholders worked to improve water conservation and efficient use in the County in past three years. The County was not spared by impacts of climate change hence the need for a centre of excellence to scale up the results to the surrounding Counties and spearhead research activities. The CaWSA-Centre provides farmer and student trainings, research support, outreach activities such as field days, trade fairs, B-2-B meetings, agri-tours and policy advocacy. It is funded by SWA program, RUFORUM/MasterCard and IAP@Nakuru partners.
The launch started with a meeting between the Smart Water of Agriculture (SWA) team and University management. The SWA consortium team consisted of SNV Kenya, Meta Meta, Practica and Wageningen University. Next was ribbon cutting by Dr. Maina and Prof. Kibor and a tour of the demo farm and exhibitions. This was followed by speeches by SNV Kenya and Dr. Maina. Abraham, thanks Egerton University and partners for the job well done and assured them of continued collaboration despite the ending of the SWA program in October. Dr Maina highlighted the challenge of climate change, under-utilization of irrigation potential and importance of research being practical and of immediate benefit to farmers. She said it was urgent to reduce the gap between policy and science. She assured the students that the ministry was committed on the youth in agriculture agenda and has a point person, who is available to support youth.
Ten (10) IAP partners exhibited and educated farmers and students. They included: Equity bank, ECLOF Kenya Microfinance, Lachlan Africa Ltd, Third Eye Company, G. North and Son, Sunculture LTD, ADC Molo, Stockman Rozen Kenya LTD, Pioneer Seeds and Case International. Third Eye Co. did a demonstration of the flying drone water and disease stress mapping service.
The day climaxed in a Business-2-Business lunch for the IAP partners. In the afternoon, eleven leaders of the Nakuru Smallholder Farmers Association (NASFA) held a meeting with the CECM- agriculture and agreed for a follow up meeting later. NASFA represents over 6,000 farmers in cooperatives, farmer groups and CBOs.