The Agricultural Society of Kenya (ASK) was started in 1901 under the name East African Agricultural and Horticultural Society (EAA & HS). The goal of EAA & HS was to promote agricultural development based on European settlement. The first agricultural show in Kenya was held in 1902 at the Jevanjee Gardens in Nairobi (information courtesy of the Agricultural society of Kenya website)
After Kenya gained independence in 1964, founding father Mzee Jomo Kenyatta’s young government changed the name of the show to Agricultural Society of Kenya (ASK). It released a number of advisories and policies that encouraged “urban to rural” migration of its citizen to work on their farms and produce enough food to feed the growing population.
The popular ‘farmer field days’ originated from the ASK show. They are organised by the government and development partners at lower levels within the community where farmers are encouraged to showcase their farming techniques and crop management skills that improve production. These field days are given themes to commensurate with special occasions, policy factors, etc that enhance food security, conservation, and community development.
How we learned of the Busia County farmer’s field day
We learned of the ongoing Anglican Development Services (ADS) sponsored exhibitions circuit in Busia, Bungoma, Kakamega, and Vihiga counties by a member of our SAWBO network from Busia County, Mr. David Sibeyo, through a WhatsApp message posted on the group. Sibeyo is a public administrator working as a sub county administrator in Butula sub county, Busia county government, and the Busia county coordinator for public participation in the governor’s office.
Besides providing logistical support to our team to make the day successful, David Sibeyo handled our registration with the main organisers of the event (A.D.S), and ensured our network team was allocated prime space as an exhibitor. Since 80% of our network membership in Busia county practice mixed farming, we were confident that they would attend the exhibition in large numbers. We had no excuse than to ensure we served them well even though we became aware of the event on short notice and had limited time to prepare.
Before we took part in the event of such importance, we needed to have an idea or prior experience of what is expected of exhibitors. Luckily, my team members have attended other farmer field days and knew how to approach it. Under Sibeyo’s direction and guidance, our SAWBO western region team had all the logistical support to make the event, which was four days away, a great success. The team started by listing what we required, which included:
- Two banners to advertise our services
- A sizeable tent and chairs for farmers visiting our stall
- Fliers to be issued to our visitors during the exhibition
- Registration forms to be filled by stall visitors
- Internet connectivity hotspot to download and share SAWBO videos
- Drinks and snacks for our team
Groups like ours need to have reliable branding professionals who can put great ideas in place with speed and accuracy. Elisha Moseti who is our member from Kisii county in Nyanza region embarked on designing fliers, banners, and name tags to be used in the event and others that would follow thereafter. He did a wonderful job producing fine images and prints of awesome quality and messaging. Everlyne Mukhwana, another member of our network who supplies our branded T-shirts and caps made bright and colorful shirts and caps that make us stand out from the others.
In this blog post, I want to outline to my readers the preparations we made to enable us to attend the farmers exhibition/field day.
Activities in the exhibition
After noting down what we required and going over the list to ensure we missed nothing, the next challenge was how to run the event. At this point, I allocated duties to the eight volunteers that would represent our SAWBO network and interact with attendees. These volunteers would be expected to
Receive visitors to our stall.
Register farmers and capturing their information.
Arrange visitors into small groups (7-10) and explain who we are and what our network does.
Show farmers how to access SAWBO content, watch, and share with their contacts.
Issue fliers for attendees to take home to friends and family.
Attending to farmers visiting our stall.
It is always important to understand the community you will be attending to, especially those visiting your stall seeking your services. It’s equally important to know the language or dialect the local community uses. This helps in choosing the video translations to download and use in demonstrations.
After understanding our community, we allocated sitting space for a class of seven to 10 farmers per volunteer. If chairs are available, arrange them in a circular position. In the Busia exhibition, we were overwhelmed by the walk-in numbers and registration to join our brief demonstration classes. At times we had four ongoing sessions. Some farmers chose to stand because we didn’t have enough chairs, but that didn’t deter them from enjoying the animated videos!
During a demonstration session at garden of good hope, Weyeta area, Bungoma County, one of our trainers, (Esnas) sat down to effectively demonstrate to a disabled man how to watch SAWBO videos. This showed a level of passion the volunteer had for what she was doing touching the hearts of many in a special way.
Apart from the delay in setting up exhibition stalls by the organisers, everything began well and gained momentum. My team was quick to learn from the challenges encountered and adapted to provide timely solutions. The registration of new members was good and the enthusiasm when watching animated content memorable.
I encourage any team planning to attend these farmer field days and exhibitions to consider them as great opportunities to reach local communities and grow knowledge while expanding their networks.