New digital platform to help farmers overcome challenges of changing weather patterns

Cooperative University Vice Chancellor Kamau Ngamau

Cooperative University Vice Chancellor Kamau Ngamau during the launch of Kenya Rural Transformation Centres Digital Platform in Nakuru. The platform will help farmers to have access to information that will empower their decision-making capacities, helping them to cut losses.

Photo credit: Gerald Andae | Nation Media Group

When the dry spell hit the country last year, it claimed many casualties. One of them was Lalebo Olepolos Dairy in Narok, which shut its operations for nearly 10 months.

Joseph Lomodu, a manager at the dairy, says one of the biggest challenges that they are facing is lack of information especially in the wake of climate change, which has hit the farming sector hard, with his cooperative losing over 70,000 litres of milk monthly on account of harsh weather.

This highlights how the lack of centralised depository where farmers can access timely information, not only on weather, but also on other key things such as the market and access to inputs, has left them on their own.

It is because of this that the Cooperative University, with financial aid of Sh114 million from the African Development Bank, stepped in to fill the gap in the value chain with the creation of Kenya Rural Transformation Centres Digital Platform (KRTCDP).

The KRTCDP platform is aimed at putting farmers at the centre of a single electronic platform and connecting them with all actors along the agricultural sector value chain, including the Met Department so that they can get timely forecasts for appropriate planning.

This project seeks to link smallholder farmers with all relevant stakeholders on the same digital platform, hence creating a one-stop shop for producers.

“The platform will help farmers in decision-making through access to agribusiness services and information such as the broadcast of agricultural-cycle information on weather forecasts, wholesale and retail commodity prices,” said Agriculture Secretary Josephat Muhunyu.

Mr Lomodu said the platform is timely and will benefit them with relevant information that they have been lacking over the years.

“We just reopened last month after the rains started. We are happy we will get some support from this KRTCDP project as this platform will give timely information on weather, enabling us to plan accordingly based on the forecast,” said Mr Lomodu.

He said when a dry spell is in the forecast, they can plan to acquire sufficient feeds for their cooperative members to last the entire duration of the drought, pointing out that this will ensure a consistent supply of milk.

Cooperative University Vice Chancellor Kamau Ngamau said the project will go a long way towards the achievement of some of the government’s set objectives.

“As per the Agriculture Sector Transformation and Growth Strategy (2019-2029), this project addresses the issue of enhanced agricultural productivity and the formation of Special Agro Processing Zones,” said Prof Ngamau.

The project and digital centres, said Prof Ngamu, will also attract youth in agriculture and this, he noted will be a game changer that will also create jobs and ensure the continuity in the agriculture sector.

“Youths will be providers of services, there will be creation of jobs and contribution tremendously in the in the government transformation agenda,” Prof Ngamau said.

The project is being implemented in three agricultural counties of Nakuru, Baringo and Nyandarua and is expected to bring farmers in different value chain production together.