Freelance agronomists in Kenya must seek elective MCA positions in 2022
Between 2016 and early 2017 I worked as a freelance agronomist and I had the privilege to visit almost every county in Kenya. I worked with hundreds of farmers from many regions and who grew diverse types of crops. Today, I know many agronomists in Kenya, and I find that most of them especially the freelancers are well equipped with the relevant skills and knowledge to assist farmers to achieve higher productions.
However, most farmers do not like working with a freelance agronomist for the obvious reason of wanting to avoid charges. Therefore, freelance agronomists only work with farmers who agree to pay a certain amount as a consulting fee. This explains why most freelance agronomists in Kenya have a very tight travel schedule because these kinds of farmers are rare to find and are scattered from one corner of Kenya to another. Agronomists have to travel very long distances just to meet one farmer, and worse still a small-scale farmer. This makes agronomy consulting services a bit very expensive and sometimes unaffordable for small-scale farmers.
Statistics have it that over 65% of the Kenyan population live in rural areas and that 80% of the rural communities depend on farming to earn a living. It is therefore a no-brainer that an improvement in the agricultural sector will improve the livelihood of over 80% of the rural communities.
Why then do I suggest that freelance agronomists should vie for elective positions as members of county assembly?
Historically, farmers are known to be resistant to change, especially the African farmer. Most farmers chose to practice farming the old way regardless of the clear benefits that come with the adoption of new farming techniques and technologies. This resistance neutralizes the efforts and good work done by freelance agronomists in the field. They try very hard to convince farmers to change their ways of farming but much of these efforts end up in vain because most farmers do not listen, or do not apply the acquired knowledge.
On the other hand of Kenyan politics, we all know that everything in Kenya happens or fails to happen at the exclusive will of politicians. Kenyan politicians are very influential especially in commanding the population to do or not to do something. Likewise, the Kenyan population takes politicians’ words as the gospel of truth, and almost always do as instructed by the politicians.
Therefore, in my view, it would take very little effort for an elected agronomy technocrat to influence farmers to adopt modern farming practices in their constituency.
One area where agro-MCAs would be very effective is in influencing small scale farmers to synchronize their farm activities in order to tap into the benefits of economies of scale. This way, small scale farmers in a certain region can work together to collectively procure inputs, access mechanization, and access the market with a stronger bargaining power if they pool their produce together. Agro-MCAs have the power to convince farmers to break boundaries/fences to aggregate land in order to have large scale farm operations that are suitable for the application of highly effective modern techniques like mechanization.
For an MCA who technically savvy on highly effective farming practices, it would only require him or her to do a few rallies with farmers in their region to convince them to accept the desired change.
This is a choice that every freelance agronomist should consider taking if they want to progress in the farmers' advisory services. Being a politician is a platform for you to be heard and be obeyed by farmers to the letter.
What do you think?
By Joseph Wambugu