By Zablon Oyugi
Farmers across Kenya are set to enjoy a significant boost in their agricultural endeavours with the introduction of Mkulima Shops by the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (KALRO) at several research centers across the country.
These newly-established one-stop shops are designed to offer a wide range of services and products tailored to support farmers in their agricultural activities.
Dr Felister Makini, the deputy director general of crops research at KALRO, explained that these shops will serve as primary outlets for the research organisation’s seeds, seedlings, and other agricultural products.
“KALRO’s seed systems have been significantly fortified, ensuring that farmers now have access to high-quality seeds in locations that are more accessible to them,” said Dr Felister during the inaugural event held at KALRO Kibos Centre in Kisumu County. She was joined by esteemed directors, including Mr Robert Musyoki (KALRO Seeds), Dr Lusike Wasilwa (Crops Systems), Dr Violet Kirigua (NAVCDP Project Coordinator), and Virginia Wangari (Corporate Communications).
These Mkulima Shops are strategically located at various KALRO research centers, including Kabete, Kitale, Kibos, Njoro, Embu, Mwea, Kandara, Katumani, Matuga, and Alupe.
Dr Felister emphasised KALRO’s commitment to safeguarding the quality of their products, collaborating closely with the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) to detect and combat counterfeit goods. In addition to providing farmers with access to certified crop varieties, these shops will also offer essential agricultural information to support various aspects of their production practices.
Previously, KALRO had employed various distribution channels to reach the ultimate consumers — the farmers.
Dr Felister described the Mkulima shop model as a comprehensive solution, where all KALRO products, including seeds and vital agricultural information, are prominently displayed and made readily available to farmers.
She further said that the primary goal is to ensure that the seeds and other agricultural technologies developed by KALRO are easily accessible to farmers.
In addition to these physical outlets, KALRO has also ventured into digital platforms, creating multiple user-friendly avenues for farmers to access information. Recognizing that approximately 89 percent of Kenyan farmers own mobile phones, these platforms enable them to conveniently request and receive agricultural information right on their devices.
These digital platforms offer a wide array of services, including weather predictions, recommendations on suitable crop varieties based on local climatic conditions, guidance on managing pests and diseases, and the corresponding control measures that farmers can employ.
“We have harnessed these platforms to disseminate crucial information to farmers, ensuring that they make informed decisions at the right time and in the correct manner,” Dr Felister concluded.