News and knowhow for farmers

Kiserian farm offers pay as you learn training to young agriculturalists

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By George Munene

Latia Farm loc­ated at Seis­ing, off the Isinya Kiserian road, sits on some 60 acres, 38 acres of which are cur­rently under use, in a grand, private-sec­tor ad­ven­ture of ag­ri­cul­tural train­ing and in­nov­a­tion.

The farm has lec­ture halls, dorm­it­or­ies and a res­taur­ant to offer six month ap­pren­tice­ship courses to some 1000 form four leav­ers yearly— a quarterly in­take of 250 stu­dents. The ap­pren­tices are given prac­tical farm­ing ex­per­i­ence on al­most every facet of farm­ing; crop farm­ing, spe­cial­ized hor­ti­cul­ture and an­imal hus­bandry. The pro­gram, which is part sponsored by Kenya Com­mer­cial Bank, of­fers loaned train­ing, feed­ing and board, which the train­ees pay off from the pro­duce they grow and is sold out­side the farm. On com­plet­ing the course, Latia, also helps them get in­tern­ship place­ments. Re­cruits for the pro­gram are sought from across the coun­try with the help of county of­fi­cials.

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Prac­tical farm­ing ex­per­i­ence is also offered to farm­ers who are look­ing to learn in­tens­ive/in­nov­at­ive farm­ing meth­ods. This is given as a four day Thursday to Sunday crash course at a Sh1000 daily charge.

Con­sultancy and mar­ket­ing ser­vices, es­pe­cially to first time farm­ers look­ing to avoid the pit­falls many ag­ri­pren­eurs en­dure when start­ing out are also a part of their of­fer­ing.

The farm is com­part­ment­al­ised with areas of­fer­ing open field and green­house farm­ing as well a 7 acre Ag­ritech sec­tion which serves as an in­nov­a­tion hub. David Kim­waki, an ag­ro­nom­ist at the farm, says they have worked out ways of using earth­worms to de­com­pose ma­nure used as or­ganic fo­liar. They are also re­fin­ing the use of shade nets, which are much cheaper, as a stand in for green­houses.

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They are stretches of maize fields as well as French beans which grown for the ex­port mar­ket. The farm is re­plete with green­houses used to house to­ma­toes. Ma­jor­ing in hor­ti­cul­ture; sukuma wikis, cab­bages, onions, cap­sic­ums, broc­colis, but­ter­nuts, cu­cum­bers and cauli­flowers are a fix­ture on the farm. They also grow in­di­gen­ous ve­g­gies such as the spider plant, black night­shade and man­agu. The farm has 10 cows, pigs, milk goats, chick­ens and has just got­ten into rab­bit keep­ing.

Latia Farm: 0716 431054

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