Kenya has a potential for irrigation of 540 000 ha (Republic of Kenya, 2003)

Kenya has a potential for irrigation of 540 000 ha (Republic of Kenya, 2003)

CAPACITY BUILDING OF FARMERS IN KENYA Capacity building initiatives for farmers in Kenya are in the portfolio of the Ministry of Agriculture, including irrigated agriculture. There have been some notable extension programmes over the years. For instance, the Training and Visits (T&V) of the 1980s was an extension project funded by the World Bank and implemented in41 districts. It was meant to replace the tradition extension system inherited from the colonial government, which had failed to improve production in smallholder farming, as it was fraught with too much bureaucracy (Gautam,2000; Pickering, 1989). Under T&V, the concept of the model farmer was promoted, in which progressive farmers were identified where experiments and demonstration plots would be set up on their farms. However, adoption rates were disappointing, as the visiting farmers, for one reason or other, could not identify with the model

A more recent extension package has been the National Agricultural and Livestock Extension Programme(NALEP) (Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, 2000). The programme has bottom-up stakeholder participation in decision-making, planning and implementation of activities, as well as a structured supervision, reporting, monitoring and evaluation (Baiya, 2000). However, NALEP has been bogged down by too much data collection with little follow-up activities. Another programme, the Farmer Field School (FFS), described as a ‘‘school without walls’’, is a participatory method for technology development and dissemination (Okoth et al., 2002; Duveskog, 2001). The school involves25–30 farmers in a given locality where the focus is field observations, hands-on activities and season-long research. However, FFS has only been applied in a few districts. The Agricultural Technology and Information Response Initiative (ATIRI) has been a participatory research programme implemented by the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), meant to improve farmers’ ability to make demands on agricultural service provider sand intermediary organizations (Kenya Agricultural Research Institute, 2001). In the ATIRI approach, proposals are formulated by farmers’ groups and all activities are focused on the identification, adaptation and promotion of new technologies as well as preservation and dissemination of indigenous technologies. In general, many of these extension packages have ended with as many problems as successes, with most of them having a strong focus on rain-fed agriculture. Smallholder irrigated agriculture has not had capacity building initiatives at national level specially targeted at them. In recent years, NGOs, private sector and research organizations have also been supporting capacity development, and their role in smallholder irrigation has been especially pertinent. Recent water reforms have been implemented which seek to enhance community participation in irrigation development and management, as well as build capacity for both staff and farmers. The strategies to improve irrigation water management at farm level are also clearly spelt out, particularly how to involve communities in water resource management, distribution and equitable sharing (Ministry of Water Resources Management and Development, 2003). The current government strategy for capacity building in the agricultural sector (Republic of Kenya, 2004) highlights the need to reform extension services in the country. However, the proposed reforms target the Ministry of Agriculture, which no longer holds the portfolio for irrigation. Thus, irrigated agriculture still faces the challenge of having to outsource extension services from another Ministry or from other sources. To this end, capacity development for smallholder irrigated agriculture has been evolving.

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