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4K Club members at Eshinyulu Primary School in Kakamega with Prof Ruth Oniang’o. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]
Pupils from 35 primary schools in Kakamega County have benefitted from a project that seeks to sharpen their farming skills. The initiative by Nestle and Rural Outreach Africa aims to encourage young learners to embrace agriculture, be great agripreneurs and make money.
“By training pupils on farming we are able to reach their parents and communities around schools,” says Nestle and Rural Outreach Africa founder Prof Ruth Oniang’o.
The 2017 Africa Food Prize Laureate has been championing for the revival of 4K clubs in primary schools since 2015 to promote nutrition and food security in communities.
Why rebirth of 4K Clubs excites many veterans
“So far, we have implemented school gardens and agricultural enterprises in Kakamega, Nairobi and Siaya counties,” says Prof Oniang’o.
She further notes that the interventions fit within Kenya’s recently revised education system whose emphasis is on competence of the learners.
“4K Club concepts fit well in Competence-Based Curriculum since it allows children to practice and also connect with parents and the community. This helps them understand importance of soil, its safety, nutrition, business, pests and disease control, environment and career progression,” she says.
Oniang’o’s organisation partners with 4K Clubs to create school gardens and agricultural enterprises and strengthen school-based agricultural programmes. Master Shaun Wayne, a Grade Five pupil at Buchenya Primary and the 4K club secretary in the school says members enjoy farming activities like planting crops like kales, spinach, pine, fig trees, soya, cabbage and spring onions.
“We have saved Sh2, 000 from selling vegetables. We are happy about it since we started with five pupils but more are joining after witnessing the benefits. We are also enriching the school by making it green through planting beans and trees,” Wayne says.
He says they have a treasurer, chairman, secretary and security who help oversee the projects. The pupils are also taught the importance of record-keeping, crop pests management, and marketing skills.
Benefits of organic farming
“I have seedbeds at home and also manage a kitchen garden which saves my parents a lot of money. I am also the class champion and the venture has helped me improve in my performance,” he says.
Celestine Amunge, a pupil at Eshinyulu Primary School says 4K which stands for Kuungana Kufanya Kusaidia Kenya (to unite, to work with one’s hands to help build Kenya) has taught her to be a team player.
“I am passionate about farming and my mother has also been encouraging me to be innovative and learn how to make money through farming. I also practice organic farming while entails using things like organic manure and ash mixed with water to control pests and diseases,” Amunge says.
Eshinyulu Primary 4K club patron, Wilson Wambani says the venture has benefited the school a lot.
“We have bought uniform and books for needy students and also paid school fees for them. The venture has helped improve nutrition through feeding programmes in schools,” Wambani says.
According to Buchenya Primary School 4k patron, Bilha Miraba, they are teaching learners to be entrepreneurs and innovators.
“We show learners how to grow a variety of foods like vegetables, fruits and legumes. We also emphasise on a balanced diet and practically teach them how to keep livestock and poultry. We are showing families how to improve their diets with home-grown foods,” she says.
Prof Oniang’o says Kenyans ought to embrace agriculture by giving back to the community through empowering the children at a younger age.
“Kakamega County has over 900 primary schools. With help of Nestle, this year, we have reached more than 35 schools. I’m always eager to work with children. I want them to enjoy being in school where they learn about nature, science, mathematics and business,” she says.
Prof Oniang’o is determined to make communities food sufficient through growing fruits and traditional vegetables and fruits.
“By also growing orange fleshed sweet potatoes which is rich in vitamin A, women and children will have great eyesight. You recall women spend a lot of time in smokey kitchen which affect their eyesight,” says the scholar.
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