Eldama Ravine Technical and Vocational College (ERTVC) had its gates open for Kenyans interested in learning more about improving their farm inputs through farm production.
With heavy machinery worth billions of money on display, students were tasked to explain to the participants the importance of acquiring and using them on their farms.
Under the leadership of Principal Eric Tanui and his 47 able staff with participation from its over 500 students, ERTVC organized its first-ever Expo. The event took place on October 28, 2022, at the college’s grounds.
The Expo was sponsored by the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development and fisheries in Baringo County together with the Baringo Agricultural Marketing Services Cooperative Society (BAMSCOS).
Graced by the area Member of Parliament Musa Sirma and earlier on the Member of County Assembly Eldama Ravine ward Julius Ngotie, about a thousand citizens were in attendance as from 9.00 am.
The exhibition was excellently organized and would only match previous Agricultural Shows held in Kenya’s big cities.
Huge and rare farm machinery were the welcome mat to the institution.
The potato planter, for instance, is a rare machine that only large-scale potato farmers use in areas like Mumberes.
Elisha Bett, a student at ERTVC, passionately explains how it works. Hiring one of these only costs KSh. 4000 per acre. Next to it is the machine that covers the holes after the potato planter has planted the potatoes, the ridger, and finally, the potato harvester.
Farmers are taken through how to use the hay harvester, as they are at liberty to ask any questions at the Expo.
Among the farmers, Eldama Ravine Member of the County Assembly (MCA) and farmer Julius Ngotie expressed a lot of satisfaction at how the students have acquired valuable skills and are ready for the job market.
Meet Edna Tuto, a third-year student in the Agricultural and Mechanical Engineering Department (AGME). The Kenya National Examination Council ( KNEC) examines the courses in that department. She is showcasing the three major parts of a tractor at one of the showrooms.
Crops grown at the colleges’ farm are evidence of how busy the students are.
It took time to prepare for the ERTVC expo with stakeholders involved from the Agricultural companies from within the county and beyond. If the variety of food produced therein is to go by, then it is unfortunate that some parts of the country are dying of starvation.
The students engage in the farming of cabbages, kales, wheat, sudangrass, maize, sweet potatoes, and other crops in variety.
At the outside tent display is Anderson Kosgei. He elaborates on how to develop an electrical installation circuit. The circuit converts solar to energy usable by farmers to break the monopoly enjoyed by Kenya Power.
He also responded to queries on how the different alarms he has set work, elaborating on how to convert solar energy to home power.
For this course under the Electrical Engineering Department, he says you do not have to have a class 8 certificate. A willing student without one can start as an artisan by pursuing the Artisan in Electronics for one year, then take a Certificate course in Electronic Engineering (power option) Module 1, which also takes a year, then do a diploma.
ERTVC accommodates every Kenyan willing to acquire the available desired skills.
ERTVC trains young ladies to ride tractors, a rare move in the region. With all this, one would wonder where exactly their target market is but to them, it’s easy. Through such courses, a good percentage are getting ready to be self-employed, others are eying other agricultural firms to work with, and others are looking forward to being extension officers.
Eldama Ravine is famously known for producing the two fastest tractor drivers worldwide.
“The late Kimongo trained for ten years and represented Kenya in the world; he comes from Kabimoi, while Kiptim works in Germany and Canada and he is just from around,” says Musa Sirma.
He also urged the college administration to let the students learn from the farms to practically unleash their full potential.
Most of the parents who attended the fair applauded ERTVC for making the Expo entry-free to their long desire for such an experience.
“It was educational and proved that our efforts to educate our children in the institution are not going to waste,” they agreed.
With the farm produce needing adequate attention, especially in spraying various pesticides, the students showcased how to use the Multipurpose wheel-operated Knapsack sprayer. With the sprayer, it is easy, unlike the current practice where farmers bear the burden of carrying the pump on their backs.
At the cosmetology section, students were well-groomed, ready to show their prowess with new kits serving various purposes. Meet Brendah Chepkemoi, a cosmetologist student.
She is undertaking her one-year course in the Cosmetology Department, which offers the Artisan Certificate in Hairdressing and Beauty Therapy, a one-year course examined by KNEC. She says they are practically trained to prepare wigs. The wigs on display are already the work of the ERTVC hands.
Principal Eric Tanui’s efforts paid off as the MP promised to pay the admission fees of KSh. 15,000 for every student joining in the next intake through the Constituency Development Funds (CDF), which he hopes he will be made the chairperson.
He rubbished the bid to have the kitty done away with. With the amount paid, Principal Tanui will focus on clearing the balance through Kenya University and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) and the Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) for the students.
The Expo also showcased displays from stakeholders from companies across the country, most training farmers on balancing their animal feed for maximum milk production.
For the first time in a long time, Eldama Ravine farmers learned that they are part of a big brand, Hilo milk. The milk from the Eldama Ravine sub-county farmers and the environs is pasteurized in Nairobi.
Hilo milk is packaged in differently-sized long-life packets, indicating it is left on the market for a maximum of three months. A carton of Hilo-branded milk is sold at a wholesale of KSh 650, and the small packets of 200ml are sold at a wholesale of KSh 580 per carton.
According to Musa Sirma, seedlings are no longer rare in most agro vets in town, unlike before, when farmers had to travel to Naivasha for the best seedlings.
“With the launch of the 150 million Hustler’s Fund on December 1, 2022, that will be affordable to all farmers to improve their baskets as farming is the major ingredient in building a better economy under the Kenya Kwanza Government,” he adds.
The Expo had nine different Cooperative Societies in Baringo represented by farmers, who were asked to translate their numbers to ensure they bring their children to study in ERTVC.
Catherine Chebet, the Hilo Sales Manager, urged Baringo residents to consider purchasing Hilo milk. “This will increase the demand and thus the production will translate to huge production to satisfy the consumers,” she projected.
Chebet adds that the cost of sending the milk to Nairobi is high. He says stakeholders, including the Baringo County Government, should consider having a milk Processor in Baringo.
Trained students at the farms each stand in wait for the farmers to ask questions and guide them on how to plant the variety of seedlings for respective crops, the duration it takes to grow, where it can be grown and how to take care of them and finally the most important, the available market.
This is a sample of wheat, the Emmer variety, that matures in four months, requiring a space of 25 cm by 30 cm. It can be planted mainly as seedlings or transplanted from the nursery too. The wheat is famously known to be rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, rich in vitamin D, and a source of foliate, magnesium and zinc.
Gaudancia Chebet says the wheat is marketable and easy to maintain. She anticipates finishing her studies and becoming an extension officer, going for her higher Diploma, and even looking for opportunities in the agricultural fields. She says though she craves to be self-employed, at the moment raising capital is the challenge.
The Sudan grass, growing up to seven feet, takes 60 days to grow to maturity and can be used as fodder, according to Doreen Yator, a General Agriculture student at ERTVC.
The Expo fruits for the ERTVC are expected to be seen through the 100% enrolment of students in the January 2023 intake, the repairing of the College’s entrance, and the provision of a driving school car within six months, by the area MP.
The Principal Rift Valley Institute of Science and Technology (RVIST) promised his counterpart to offer his driving school car to ERTVC for the first six months.
With the evidence of the work being put in place by the Principal and the trainers in ERTVC, the community is challenged to grow its skills, increase its farm produce through easy practical instructions to yield more, and ensure a healthy meal for their cattle and themselves.
Investing in the changing variety of seedlings, fertilizers, and new farm practices will accomplish the above.
Residents were also requested to allow the students to do practical lessons on their farms for a better market experience on the field.
A packaging milk plant is also expected to be installed to save farmers from sending their milk to milk processors in Nairobi.
ERTVC Expo is annual. More is expected as it becomes the community norm to have a learning expedition for the benefit of the society.
Currently, the gates remain open for any inquiry about next year’s admission, as the school is half full. It is located on the outskirts of Eldama Ravine Town CBD, opposite Baringo Boys High school.