Department Community Outreach Program
The Department of Agriculture conducts community outreach with a mission of “Transforming communities, one at a time”. This program started a response to a tracer study that revealed the need to produce graduates with hands on experience and soft skills to meet the demands of the job market and a community request for support in terms of extension services.
The community outreach program therefore set out with an aim of contributing towards improving the food, nutrition and income security of the rural communities through dissemination of research findings, and promotion of sustainable agronomic and animal production practices. Specifically, it is designed to:
The program engages third year students pursuing a Bachelor of Agricultural Science and Entrepreneurship (BASE). The students of BASE are attached to rural households within a selected geographical area for one day per week throughout the academic year. The BASE students spend approximately 132 hours in the field per year. During the initial community meetings, the community members interested in taking part in the program volunteer to host students. Depending on how many farmers volunteer to host, they are grouped according to proximity and then allocated students. When students get to the community, using participatory approaches, each of them is expected to identify community problems, come up with innovative, cost friendly solutions to these problems. Each student works with a minimum of ten households for a year. For each cohort, together with the farmer, a student is expected to come up an activity plan basing on the farmer’s short and long-term goals but guided by recommendations of the previous lot if any. After the three years, the farmers with whom the students have worked are graduated into a Farmer Field School (FFS) where staff take over. The FFS is implemented with an objective of sustaining students’ activities with the community and fostering farmer group action to empower farmers to learn, understand and make informed decisions pertaining to challenges they are facing in agricultural production and nutrition while using the knowledge gained from interaction with the students.