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MMUST Set to Collaborate With the County Government of Kakamega in a Bid to Elevate Food Security in the County

The MMUST and County Government of Kakamega teams posing for a group photo.

Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology on 14th March, 2023, held a meeting with a delegation from the County Government of Kakamega in a bid to elevate food security in the County. This came after the second (2nd) Governor’s Day with the farmers of Kakamega County which saw MMUST’s School of Agriculture, Veterinary Science, and Technology (SAVET) identified as a stakeholder for the provision of training of farmers and extension staff in the County. The meeting held at the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Planning, Research, and Innovation), Prof. Charles Mutai’s Office, was geared towards collaborative efforts in addressing sustainable smart farming, food, and nutrition security as well as improved livelihoods. The team then paid a courtesy call to the office of the Vice Chancellor.

The University is set to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation, Cooperatives, Livestock, Veterinary Services, and Fisheries. The discussions, aimed at promoting best farming practices in the County, were based on the following areas of concern; ‘Limited Access to Extension Officers’, ‘Access and Control of Land especially for Grass Root Women and Youth’‘Lack of Representation of Farmers on Key Agricultural Committees’‘Lack of Resources to Convene Farmers in Setting their Priorities’‘Acidic Non- Productive Soils in the County’, and ‘Lack of an Enabling Environment for Farmers to Improve their Livelihood’.

The MMUST and County Government of Kakamega teams posing for a group photo2

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Administration and Finance), Prof. John Kuria Thuo speaking during the courtesy call.

Speaking during the event, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Administration and Finance), Prof. John Kuria Thuo, who was representing the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Solomon Shibairo noted that agriculture is key to people’s welfare. He added that through this initiative, MMUST will improve agricultural production which will serve the University as well as the community.

“I urge the University scholars to tap into such practices to change the lives of the community. We shall involve the County in outreach activities to foster healthy agricultural practices that will benefit both the University and the community,” he stated.

According to Prof. Mutai, such collaborations are key to the development of the County. For this reason, he guaranteed the delegation that the University will work with the County to fulfill the farmers' interest and thus improve livelihoods. He acknowledged that this is one of the ways of utilizing University scholars in the area of Agriculture.

“We are ready for this collaboration. We shall engage our final-year students to help them gain hands-on skills by working with farmers around the University in managing agricultural practices. Let us work together to achieve this,” urged Prof. Mutai. He advocated for a general MOU with the county government and reinstatement of the agribusiness expo to bring farmers together to exchange ideas.

The MMUST and County Government of Kakamega teams posing for a group photo3

Prof. Mutai addressing the participants during the visit.

The delegation from the County Government included; the Director of Agriculture- Mr. Titus Omengo, the Chief Officer of Agriculture- Mr. Bill Silingi, and the Chief Officer of Livestock and Veterinary Services- Dr. George Barack Otieno. Dr. Otieno pointed out that such an initiative empowers farmers enabling their voices to be heard. He revealed that the County Government is committed to integrating MMUST as a hub for experts in the area of applied research which is key to the success of the project.

“We endeavor to address the needs of our farmers. As one of the key indicators of the development agenda, this project will support the provision of food security not only in the county but also in the nation. I believe the partnership shall ensure proper utilization of resources for the development of the County,” said Dr. Otieno.

The MMUST and County Government of Kakamega teams posing for a group photo4

The delegation from the County Government of Kakamega.

The delegation was received by the Dean SAVET, Prof. Jacob Wakhungu, and Lecturer in the Department of Agriculture and Land Use Management, Dr.  Muleke Everlyne Mmbone. Prof. Wakhungu stated that farmers have challenges in getting quality, certified, and disease-free seeds which affects their yields. “It is crucial to engage the farmers in farming practices to enhance their skills in the practice. Working with the county is key to achieving this. Such initiative will enable us to benefit the community in enhancing food security,” he stated.

The partners set to work on this mission are; the County Government of Kakamega, MMUST, MM- Kilimo, Kakamega County Farmers Association (KACOFA), Kakamega Youth Agripreneurs, and Shisuye Community Health Workers.

The MMUST and County Government of Kakamega teams posing for a group photo5

The participants at the DVC Planning, Research and Innovation’s Office.

Certainly, this is a timely venture when farmers are facing challenges emanating from the effects of climate change around the globe. Such integration will ensure improved income and nutrition among the farmers for more efficient use of unused or underused farming resources. The integration also has the potential to counteract the effects of environmental degradation.

 By Verna Awuor

Photos by Shiundu Masafu

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