Providing knowledge and seeds to farmers for increased bean production in Western Kenya

by James Kamuye Kataru

One of the most valuable things in life is friendship. Good friends provide support during difficult times and company during good times. In friends, one finds companionship and a sense of belonging. Our mental health is nourished by the presence of good friends, as opposed to loneliness and isolation, which breed resentment.

In the last four years, I have made unique friends with whom I have built stronger bonds than the ones I made a decade earlier, when I worked in the political sector. For instance, one such friend, and former student, gifted me a new Samsung Galaxy iPad, something I use to improve my efficiency and delivery of service to SAWBO network volunteers and group members.

Some of the 45 dedicated “online soldiers” shown after the training session with the seed they had received from Kataru Concepts. Photo by Kataru Concepts

It’s with such nostalgic reference as I retire the “gizmo” after four years of punching at its screen, breaking and repairing it over six times in the process of growing the SAWBO farmers network, that I look back and feel there is more good that can be achieved by a group of dedicated and focused friends.

One of the principles that has effectively grown SAWBO farmer groups and networks is the “ability to turn friends into partners” for a common purpose. While planning to visit a group of 45 friends who’ve shown their dedication and support for our efforts at building SAWBO networks, I concluded that the best gift to express our gratitude was a few kilos of bean seed.

Each farmer received a bag of seeds that I know will enhance and cement our relationship, most likely taking it to the next level. During the session, which included training the group on how to access, download, share, and watch animations, we factored in two animation videos.

  1. Improved Bean Production: The purpose of incorporating this video was to equip my friends, who are farmers, with sufficient knowledge of bean production. It’s worth noting that in our region, bean production has been going down due to cultural beliefs and poor farming practices. After the session, the trainees reached a consensus that bean production was not about “a lucky hand” but rather about good agricultural practices.   
  • Post-harvest Loss: Jerrycan Bean Storage was the second video of the day. It was important to remind the farmers that after they harvest their beans, recommended good agricultural practices start by selecting seeds for planting next season and storing them in locally available, hermetically sealed containers.

During the refresher training session, we reminded the group how to access, download, watch, and share SAWBO content. Photo credit: Kataru Concepts

Still in the spirit of sharing knowledge with friends, we held a training session on the use of the “Jerrican bean storage technique” at the Garden Park Restaurant in Mumias town where the team made up of farmers was reminded how to access, download, share, and use SAWBO content. The following are images from the session.

A demonstration of the” Jerrycan bean storage technique” during the training. Photo credit: Kataru Concepts

Farmers receive 2kg of beans as seed for planting after watching the ”Improved Bean Production” animation video by SAWBO. Photo credit: Kataru Concepts

The focus of our training was to improve bean production in three counties – Kakamega, Bungoma, and Busia in the western Kenya region.  At the end of the training, the farmers resolved to follow all instructions in the animation video and use their plots as reference points where neighbors could visit and see the expected results and crop performance. On the other hand, we offered to followup and capture their experiences, as well as provide advice where needed.

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