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Farmers’ Field Day Held at Nkarini Mixed Day Secondary School on 12th January 2021

The field day was held on 12th January, 2021. The on-station and 6 of the on-farms trials were used as technology exhibition and demonstration sites. The on-station site is at Nkarini Mixed Day Secondary School, while the on-farms used were within 2 km radius from the on-station. This allowed the ease of movement of the farmers from the on-farm to the on-station and vice-versa. The objective was to showcase the performance of various soil fertility, soil and water conservation practices on sorghum to the farmers. The on-station trial gave farmers the opportunity to identify and evaluate the best fit technology that had good performance and could suit their farming conditions. The on-farm stations gave farmers the opportunity to be to evaluate the practicality of the implementation of the technologies in their own farms aside from evaluating their performance on-farm. This was an opportunity to help popularize the technologies to the farming community for adoption towards improving crop productivity in the region. The farmers were also to interact with various stakeholders in agriculture including the researches, extension officers, agro-dealers, financial institutions and the government authorities. This was to provide a platform to express some of their concerns in their agricultural endeavours to the relevant stakeholders in the quest to improve agricultural productivity. This is in line the project theory of change that targets improving rural livelihood through improving productivity and income among the farmers.

The field day was sponsored by VLIR-UOS project entitled “Climate smart options allowing agricultural intensification for smallholders in the dry zones of the Central Highlands of Kenya”. The project is funded by the Flemish University (University of KU Leuven), Belgium and implemented by University of Embu in collaboration with Kenyatta University, University of Nairobi, Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) and the County Government of Tharaka-Nithi. The objective of the VLIR-UOS project is to train researchers and students, promote agricultural productivity through identification of the ideal technologies and improve livelihood in the drylands of the Central highlands of Kenya. The field day was part of the project objective (IR 5), which is to popularize the best bet technology to the farming community for improved crop productivity and enhanced livelihood.

The experimental trials investigate the integrated effect of various soil fertility, soil and water conservation practices sorghum productivity in the region. Through the project, students are trained and the community empowered through promoting the best performing practices for improved agricultural production. The field day was part of community development and improvement of rural livelihood as the farmers were given the opportunity to observe and assess the best performing practices in improving agricultural productivity. It was the second farmers field day held by the project.

The field day was held towards the end of the 4th cropping season, and the 3rd year of the project (Short rains 2020). It was the during the 15th week of the season. The sorghum was approaching physiological maturity, while green grams had attained physiological maturity and were due for harvesting. The short rains 2020 season was deemed a successful one due to sufficient rains received, and subsequently good crop attained. The effects of various technologies were visually apparent, making it ideal for farmers’ field day. Farmers’ could easily asses the best performance based of the leaf colour, plant vigour, tillering number and the head size of the sorghum. However, the performance of green grams was not evaluated.