Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Blogging from Kilimo 2

Farm Budgets and the Enterprise-Mix Updates Sample Survey
In the second week of May I was assigned the task of going to the field under the consultant who had been hired by MoA with support of ASPS to carry out the above survey.
During this survey I learned a great deal from the Kiambu farmers i.e. the district in which our team was undertaking the survey.
Although, we are still crunching/analyzing the data there are some new information one could pick from the ground such as the emerging farming trends. Most of the notable observations were emerging crop being grown most notably mushrooms and horticulture.
From the survey I picked up that a Kilo of Mushroom retails in the Market at an average price of Kshs. 400 per Kg and gives a monthly income of about Kshs 30,000 if you operate a small shed (growing mushrooms).
Major challenges faced by farmers
  • It requires a lot of capital to start i.e. Building a shed, securing wheat straw.
  • Requires a lot of attention in terms of man hours i.e. (Labour)
  • It requires raw materials that need to be sourced from specific regions (Wheat straw). This means that Mushroom farmers highly depend on Wheat farmers i.e. after the harvesting of wheat, mushroom farmers source the wheat straw. Hence during the current season there was a shortage of wheat straw due to the drought that had affected wheat crop.
  • It is affected by diseases if the minimum conditions of mushroom farming are NOT met.
  • The housing part requires constant repair.

Mushroom growing shed

Mushroom growing in the shed

Mushroom growing in the shed 2


Courgettes farming is slowly replacing tomatoes farming in the fields. The farmers are replacing tomatoes enterprises with courgettes enterprises. According to farmers tomatoes have become susceptible to diseases and planting tomatoes in the same farm for more than one season results in poor yields.
Courgettes fetch an average price of Kshs 500 per crate.

3. Chicken Farming Enterprise

Chicken farming enterprises

Still on Photography!

There is this picture (above) I took on my way to work (Kilimo) which show cases Nairobi in the Morning.
There is a lot of phenomena that happen around me on my way to work and I wish I had more time to blub about it.
So today I give it up to Uhuru Park.This place is always very graceful in the morning. The green grass and the serene pool (with occasional ducks) are always a great way to welcome the day plus, the ever cheerful Italian who is in charge of the boat business in the park who is always wishing the passers by a good day and ladies get to have sweets most of the time.
This peace and tranquility comes to an end as we approach a public holiday. Uhuru Park is then turned into a practice ground by the disciplined forces. And on a lucky day like today (19/05/2010) you will meet with four legged officers (Army Dogs). These guys are humongous and look more like calves! You will get the army officers who are away from the barracks gazing at the working community that they protect going to work. If you are keen you will get to see the guns they have and you can tell the gov't has been doing some shopping of late!
The other thing that amazes me is the ever presence of couples in the park. This has me thinking that CUPID resides in this joint and for the professional bachelors like me. This is a place to avoid at all costs. Unless cupid sees you passing by the park and hits you with his arrows!
Then we got them preachers who sometimes you will find pitching tent in the morning in anticipation of touching a heart that day.
Lastly the Nairobi viewing point. This is where I snapped the the above picture. This spot is mostly used by foreigners/tourist who wish to have a glimpse of Nairobi. I have been thinking of how I can set up a tuck shop up there to cope with the tourists esp. Chinese delegations that I have been seeing!

Africa Unframed Press Photography

I attended the East African FCA’s Photography exhibition at the Alliance Française on May 4th6.30 pm, the opening date.
The East African chapter of Foreign Correspondents’ Association (FCA) is now on its fourth year in a row exhibiting at the Alliance Française from 2007.
My best highlights apart from the insightful pictures that grace the A/F walls were the voting that was done on this night. This democratic voting saw the attendees voting for Boniface Mwangi’s photo that shows a boy holding a gun take the coveted award of : Press Photo of the Year 2010.
Another thing that I liked was the awards that were up for grabs. These are miniatures that show a person taking a picture.
In future I hope some entities can come up with some cash price for the photographers.
Ps: I took my own pictures with my phone although I may NOT be a top notch wizard behind the camera. Hope it will give you a hint of what took place!
The exhibition runs from 5-31 May 2010.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Obama’s receive honorary degrees

I was going through my facebook updates in the mornings and happen to have leaped in the Whitehouse photo of the day. Well that was President Obama and Sen. John Kerry but on the site I saw Obama receiving a honorary degree from University ofMichigan. This happened on 1/05/2010.

President Barack Obama receives an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws, before delivering the commencement address to University of Michigan graduates, at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich., May 1, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Well, that is NOT news (the guy has received a Nobel!). What was coincidental was that this week our papers have been splashed with pictures of Dr. Sarah Obama (Yes! Doctor Sarah Obama.) The grandma of President Barack Obama, Sarah Obama was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Letters by The Great Lakes University of Kisumu (GLUK) at a ceremony held on Monday 3/05/2010.
She was awarded this honor for her engaging in charity and for the passion to feed and educate the less fortunate in the society.

UN Nutrition Goodwill Ambassador Mama Sarah Obama 87, (right) receives a honorary Doctor of Letters Degree from Vice Chancellor Prof Dan Kaseje (left) during the fourth graduation ceremony of the university at Tom Mboya Labour college in Kisumu. She became Dr Sarah Hussein Obama after the honour. Photo/JACOB OWITI
A day after the graduation (Tuesday 4/05/2010) she hosted a party at her home in Kogelo, Siaya District. Two bulls, three sheep and four goats lost their lives.
What fascinated me is that in a span of a day a grandmother and a grandson get to an honorary degree.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Blogging from Kilimo

Field visit to DASS/ASPS Projects in Coast Province

My field visit to the coast province was organized by Agricultural Sector Program Support (ASPS).
This trip was to take us 1 week and see us go to Voi, Mombasa, Kwale, Kilifi, Kaloleni and Malindi Districts to inspect Decentralized Agricultural Support Structures (DASS) Projects which is a component of Agricultural Sector Program Support (ASPS).

Agricultural Sector Program Support (ASPS) has been a 5 year long term Danish support to the Agricultural Sector in Kenya which began in 2005 and coming to and end this year. It has been housed in Kilimo house under the planning department.
Its objective has been the objective of SRA i.e. Strategy of Revitalizing Agriculture which is; ‘to contribute attainment of economic recovery by transforming Kenya’s Agriculture into a profitable, commercially oriented competitive and productive economic activity that provides gainful employment to Kenyans’
Simply put: to promote farming as a business i.e. ‘Kilimo biashara’

The DASS component of ASPS has seen it being involved in;
• Improvement of Rural Access Roads & Spot-Improvement
• Improvement of Irrigation Infrastructure
• Improvement of Market Infrastructure

Journey Blog
Tuesday 27/04/2010 (Day 1)
We left Kilimo house at 1130hrs for Mombasa through Makueni (Wote). In Makueni 1400hrs where we delivered complete computer set for use in the District Agricultural Office (DAO) in Makueni. Later we passed by Kathozweni district at 1520hrs where we also delivered them a computer set.
We then set forth to Mombasa and at 1900 hrs we were in Mombasa but it took us one hour and a half to reach Mtwapa (Clearly jams are not ONLY in Nairobi!). This is where we spent the night.

Wednesday 28/04/2010 (Day 2: Kwale District)
0730hrs: Briefed on the days activities by project leader as we partake breakfast.
0830hrs Left for Kwale district. His is the part we had to take the ferry. Yes the ferry. And by the look of things if those Germans don’t bring the ferries we ordered like Yesterday then…………..
Arrived in Kwale at 1030hrs and met the DAO who gave us a brief on the projects in his district and the district preparedness for the transition. Later we went to the field to check out the projects. This is what is called ‘Kukagua Miradi’

• Rural Irrigation Project (Sand Dam)
This project we visited falls in the new Msambeni District which used to be in Kwale BUT for the purpose of our visit the Project was done in Kwale District (because funding was channeled through Kwale).
DASS funded the construction of a sand dam and facilitated the training of the locals on how to effectively use the land. The locals have formed a group of 25 people and are currently lead by a chairlady, Mama Issa.
• D547 Gandini-Ngome Road
DASS facilitated the opening up of some of the areas in Kwale district by funding the construction of a road. The roads funded by DASS are NOT tarmac roads but murram roads that are the first step in opening up an area.
 This road facilitates the taking of produce to the market.
 Middlemen are also able to come to this interior to collect produce.

Thursday 29/04/2010 (Day 3: Kilifi & Kaloleni Districts)
0730hrs: Briefed on the days activities by project leader.
0800hrs: Left for Kilifi district.
On the way passed the beautiful Rea Vipingo Sisal Plantations and within an hour we were in the magnificent Kilifi District head quarters. Despite the heat I managed to hold up as for now I was accustomed to the coast heat. The secret to combating the heat is taking hot beverages i.e. ‘dawa ya moto ni moto’.
0930hrs: Briefed on the districts project by the DAO.
1100hrs: Leave to inspect Matsangoni-Wireless Road
Excellent murram road which goes leads all the way to the ocean.
At the far end of the road I got first hand account on how the road had improved the well being of the people there especially fish mongers who are now able to take fresh fish delivery to the market. Mind you I got to see how the locals go about fishing for star fish. They wait when the ocean subsides and move into the ponds left harvesting them.
1330hrs: Lunch in Kilifi complements of the DAO.
1430hrs: Leave Kilifi for Kaloleni
1530hrs: Arrive Kaloleni
Kaloleni is far interior if you are coming from Mombasa-Malindi Road.
Kaloleni is a new district and the road leading there has not been tarmaced. However, the contractor is on the ground tarmacing the road.
Since this district was curved out last year most of its projects were coordinated from Kilifi.

Friday 30/04/2010 (Day 3: Malindi District)
0730hrs: Woke in Malindi (Spent the night there).
0800hrs: Briefed on days activities.
0900hrs: Arrived at DAO hqs where we were briefed on the projects that are done in this district.
1100hrs: Went to see Kaloleni Irrigation Scheme
An excellent scheme that has uplifted the area by providing steady incomes from sale of pepper and currently they are harvesting the first season of Tissue cultured bananas. The bananas are in such excellent condition that I almost thought I was in Kisii!
1400hrs: Lunch in Malindi and left for Mombasa.
Saturday 1/05/2010 (Day 4: Mombasa)
Weekend of compiling reports in the morning and in the afternoon I went to watch the coral reef and swam on the waves!

Sunday 2/05/2010 (Day 5: Mombasa)
0650hrs: Trip back to Nairobi.
NB: Passed by Voi on our way back.

To get more info on ASPS check: