Nkama Loitokitok, March 16, 2023 – In the serene landscape of Nkama Loitokitok, the sun rose on March 16, 2023, illuminating a significant event – the Wezesha Cohort One graduation of 312 smart farmers. This exciting, momentous occasion was a testament to the transformative potential of education and entrepreneurship in rural communities.
The Wezesha program is an initiative designed in collaboration with AIS, Safaricom Foundation, DigiFarm Kenya, and GIZ- Energising Development Program.
Founded in 2013, AIS aims to share global commercial best practices and business models to enhance the local operational practices of micro and small-sized enterprises. By recognizing the pivotal role of agriculture in unlocking rural economies, AIS is dedicated to fostering rural development through agriculture, promoting renewable energy, and conserving the environment. This is to promote inclusive rural development growth, poverty reduction, and improved livelihoods.
The Wezesha farmer graduation ceremony was a joyous occasion for the farmers as it was a culmination of all the time, energy, commitment, and engagement the farmers invested in during their training period at the demo farm. It signified the farmers’ dedication and enthusiasm in their quest for knowledge and desire to improve their livelihoods by investing in sustainable farming.
Hon. Martin Moshiso, Deputy Governor of Kajiado County, Ms. Lynda Kasina, the Trustee of Safaricom Foundation, and Ms. Hanna Salian, GIZ – EnDev Programme Director, graced the graduation ceremony ceremony. Other guests in attendance included Ms. Jackline Koin, County Executive Committee Member in charge of the Department of Agriculture and Livestock Development, and Mr. Eric Kimunguyi, Chief Executive Officer of the Agrochemical Association of Kenya.
Jennifer Githinji, the director of AIS, delivered a stirring speech that captured the essence of the celebration. “Today isn’t just about certificates; it’s about taking responsibility,” Jennifer Githinji declared. “You are inheriting the duty to lead and bring about change in your local agricultural landscape. Your success embodies the potential of communities coming together to support one another.”
“I am proud of you graduates. You have proven that we can do it. You are the first of the many that we will train. So, as you receive your certificates, you are accepting to make a change and spread the knowledge to the community. Together, we are changing the future of Kajiado South for ourselves and the generations to come!” She added.
The Deputy Governor, Hon. Moshisho, shared his thoughts about the Wezesha Program and the Demo Farm. In an enthusiastic speech, he said, “This program will go a long way in equipping our youth, men, and women, with knowledge and skills to support food security in our country. He challenged the graduates and advised them to use their skills and expertise to combat issues and challenges facing agriculture in Kajiado South.
In conclusion, Hon. Moshisho expressed his hope to see the project expand to different areas in Kajiado South. “we look forward to replicating this Demo Farm in the rest of our Sub-county. As this can be practiced in rural and urban areas, it’s just a matter of time before everyone adapts to smart farming.” He concluded.
In her captivating speech, the EnDev program Director, Miss Hanna, expressed her joy in seeing the Demo Farm’s impact in the region. “The Energising development project aims at having a market-based approach for solar for productive use appliances in order to generate employment and income opportunities. Today, we have seen what it can do. Contrary to other dry farms in the area, here we can see one solar pump pumping water and supplying it to the 7-acre demonstration farm. With this technology, you can grow fruits and vegetables using drip irrigation. “she said.
When concluding her speech, Miss Hanna urged the farmers to practice what they had learned and spread this knowledge to others. “This is a great example of what technology and innovation can do. Let us use this to show other farmers that it is possible.” She concluded.
During the ceremony, two graduates, Elizabeth Peter and John Leshan, took the stage to share their five-month journey at Wezesha. Jane spoke of her aspirations to become a successful agribusiness owner and how the Wezesha program has opened her eyes to new possibilities for running a sustainable business by leveraging solar energy. She also mentioned that she had an amazing opportunity to meet technical experts and consultants who advised her on the correct sizing requirements for her solar. She promised to solarize her farm and home to reap the benefits of this technology.
When asked how she felt, Elizabeth said, “farming has always been a dream of mine. Now that I know about smart framing, fertilizers, and water management, I can fully realize this dream. Thank you, Wezesha, for the opportunity!”
John Leshan emphasized the program’s transformative impact on his life. “Wezesha has transformed me from a traditional farmer to a modern agri-preneur,” he stated. “I can now apply sustainable farming practices, utilize modern technologies, and access markets effectively.”
As the sun set over Nkama Loitokitok, the graduates, joined by their families and community members, celebrated their success with excitement and pride through song and dance. It was a reminder that transformation and empowerment can flourish even in the simplest of settings.
The Wezesha Cohort One graduation was more than a ceremony; it celebrated rural communities’ resilience, unity, and potential.
The journey of empowerment continues as AIS, through the Wezesha program, remains dedicated to supporting farmers on their path to agricultural success. With a commitment to empower over 1,000 women and youth in the Wezesha program, this graduation is just the beginning. More training and opportunities lie ahead, promising a brighter and more prosperous future for Kajiado South and its determined farming community.