School club imparts skills to grow crops and make money
Its break time at Lunza Primary School, members of Kuungana, Kufanya, and Kusaidia Kenya (4K) club are busy monitoring how land is being tilled as they sample the best variety of maize for planting this season.
The club’s patron Bernard Imbai says the initiative which started in 2016 has been nurturing children by educating them on farming skills which will help the country achieve food security.
Mr Imbai says the club has immensely benefited the school. In 2017 Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE), the best student Movin Opende, a member of the 4k club, emerged the best with 412 marks.
“This means you can do well in class and co-curricular activities if you focus. The management of the school has given the students the mandate to run the club themselves by planning and deciding how the proceeds are spent. Teachers only come in to guide them,” he said.
In 2017, the members harvested 20 bags of maize with each weighing 90 kilogrammes. “We sold 15 bags to Lunza Secondary School and 4 bags we set aside for the school while the rest was used for re-investment,” he said.
He said from the income they raised from selling maize, Sh15,000 was spent on fencing the school.
“We used to have insecurity where people stole from the farm but we managed to curb that by fencing the whole school and the farm. We also spent Sh5,000 to sponsor some students,” he added. In 2018, their income was Sh44,000, part of it was used to plough the farm, construct a zero grazing unit and buying dairy cows.
“The dairy animals will help the school save on milk purchases,” he said.
Apart from maize farming, the members were given a hen each to rear at their homes.
“Through 4k farming, we are instilling a sense of responsibility among the pupils who know what they are supposed to do to get maximun benefits from the farmers,” he said. He further notes that their aim is to empower learners and assure them that farming can pay.
The school has also ventured into tree nursery where they plant trees for the school and also give the community as part of the campaign by government to increase forest cover to 20 per cent in the region.
“Planting trees helps both of us since it prevents soil erosion, provides oxygen, improve air quality, conserve water among others,” he said.
He said they also enlighten parents and pupils on the importance of planting trees and how it helps improve land productivity.
“To eradicate poverty, everyone must be enlightened with modern farming skills at school and at home,” he said.
Lunza Primary School Head teacher, Fredrick Nasengo said the school vibrant 4k club has attracted partners.
“Kenya Plant Health Inspector Service (KEPHIS) has promised to bring us a greenhouse and a water tank in March this year. This will boost the water system through irrigation, teach learners latest trends and technologies in green house farming and help the club produce tomatoes, dania among others,” Mr Nasengo said.
He said the learners are also taught how to make organic manure which they supplement with Diammonium Phosphate (DAP) to top dress maize, how to control crop diseases, spacing for different crops and how to manage them.
“We also invite experts to lecture pupils and teachers on modern farming, how to prevent post-harvest losses through proper storage,” he said.
Currently, Kakamega County is losing 60 per cent of maize produced due to poor harvesting methods, processing and storage.
Kakamega deputy governor also in charge of agriculture, Philip Kutima said maize production in the region is doing well with the major challenge being in the storage.
“Since agriculture is the major generating income for the county, we have put measures in place to ensure we get quality production. We introduced subsided fertiliser after doing soil testing, which has improved maize production from 2.1 million tonnes to 2.5 million tonnes,” Kutima said.
He notes that food security agenda is key and much attention need to be given to post-harvest losses which is a crucial component.
“We are doing very well in production but 60 per cent of the food is wasted due to lack of adequate storage facilities, late harvesting and rains. Experts and institutions have are concerned about the situation and are educating the farmers on how to curb the food loss problem,” he said. A pupil and the club member Sheila Ambani said teachers encourage learners to duplicate the skills acquired in school at their kitchen garden at home.
“We always do research on the type of crops to grow and carry out soil analysis before planting so as to check any diseases present and how to treat it, “she said.
The school plants sweet potatoes, traditional vegetables, soya beans and cabbage which help generate income for the school.
To join the club, one must be in Standard 4 and above. Registration fess is Sh20.