ADVANCING AGRICULTURE IN KENYA
Korea project on International Agriculture (KOPIA) is one of the projects that the Republic of Korea is using to share its development experience and knowledge across the globe. It is run by Korea’s Rural Development Administration (RDA). In 2009 they begun their work in Africa by launching their working centers in Kenya and Ethiopia. To date, they have reached 10 countries across the continent and are doing a lot to improve the Agricultural performance of the countries they are working in.
The Kenyan chapter is run by an ebullient Director, Dr. Kim Choong-Hoe who has led his team to achieve much more for the 8 years that they have been running. They work in partnership with the Kenya Agricultural & Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) in meeting a select number of needs that face the Kenyan agriculture. Their projects center around poultry production, maize, rice, potato and vegetable production.
They are located in Kiambu, at KALRO headquarters. There projects run in Nyandarua, Kikuyu and Machakos county. For the other regions in need of their know-how and equipment such as the Western part of the country, the respective county Governors have made an effort to visit their center and learn a number of things
A tour at KOPIA centre provides a glimpse into their psyche, evidenced by the farm demonstrations that fill up the compound. There are several demo fields exhibiting a range of crops such as maize, potato, cabbage and tomato. There are crops with over 23 species of herbs such as lavender and rosemary, and others that have cucumber, paprika and strawberry. The most ambitious could be the 3rd demo field, which is a furnished poultry raising facility. In this facility they have been raising poultry that they later distribute to farmers in the quest to promote local poultry farming. They give it to local farming groups with each group receiving 5 chicken to start them off. To be able to get this donation, a group must comprise a minimum of 20 farmers
KOPIA is more hands on and practical than you would find a typical project office. In fact, the Director does not look the part. On a normal day he will be dressed like a farmer and so will his members of staff. The demo fields are spread out, an assemblage of green houses, tilled lands and poultry houses.
In addition to these outstanding demo fields, the work they have done outside is equally great. They have run four projects which have been rolled out in 2 phases. Part of this has been disseminating technologies in the production of rice, potato and the vegetables. To function in an efficient manner, they have worked along researchers to develop localized technologies that are in sync with the Kenyan farmers. They have constructed demonstration plots at major production areas, advised farmers on using the correct certified seeds, maintaining the soils and making manure.
One of its outstanding projects is building the school farm of Kadeng’wa primary. They have equipped the farm with poultry, maize, potato, sweet potato, cabbage and tomatoes. The farm products have gone into feeding the children most of who come from poor families. The Director, Dr. Kim Choong Hoe went lengths to use his own personal money to buy them food, textbooks and stationery. He also requested for a large scale donation from the Rural Development Authority (RDA) Korea that heed his call. The centre is looking forward to do much more that will improve Kenya’s agriculture and establish Korea as a true partner in the country’s general development.
Image Credits: Joshua Nyantika