Thursday, January 28, 2016

Hay changing farmer’s fortune in Laikipia

By Jane Kirimi and Paul Gichungu
Frequent drought in semi-arid Laikipia County has been contributing to crop failure, inadequate feeds, decreased production and food insecurity. Overgrazing has also increased land degradation.
In a bid to reduce the 46 percent poverty level in the County, the Agricultural Sector Development Support Program (ASDSP) in partnership with Laikipia County government, CARITAS Nyeri among others undertook to promote hay commercialisation in the dairy value chain.
The initiative involved organizing farmers into 28 groups comprising 1064 farmers, 632 male and 432 females, training them on grass management practices, seed harvesting, storage, marketing and providing them with hay grass seed. ASDSP has also issued the groups with a hay-training manual.
Eighteen (18) farmer groups received 7300 kgs of Rhodes grass seeds. This resulted in establishment of 1800 acres of grass across the county. The farmers have also formed Laikipia Hay Company Ltd to champion Laikipia as a hay county.
Ann Mwangi at her hay store
To support the demand for expansion of acreage under Rhodes grass, farmers are harvesting and selling seeds to improve their income. The number of hay producers has also increased from 1,500 to over 5,000 farmers.
Among the group that benefited included the 70 member Tigithi Umoja Hay group. 
Mrs. Ann Mwangi, a member of the group planted her Boma Rhodes seeds in April 2015. Last season, her 3-acre land produced 500 bales of hay of which she sold 400 bales valued at Ksh 120,000. She harvested 100 Kg of seeds valued at Ksh 50,000.
“I used to experience frequent crop failure before ASDSP started working with us. The various trainings that they gave us has empowered our group members. We have increased our production and income through the ASDSP program,” said Mrs. Mwangi.
Currently she has 5 acres of land under grass production with an expected yield of 1,000 bales worth Ksh 300,000. She has migrated from nomadic lifestyle to zero grazing method of dairy farming.

She is now planning to increase hey hay acreage in order to feed her five dairy cows and sell the surplus to increase her income.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Improved multilayer hermetic grain storage technology launched in Nyahururu

By Bob Aston
November 18, 2015 Laikipia County achieved a key milestone as A to Z group in collaboration with Cereal Growers Association (CGA) and Laikipia County Government launched AgroZ bag at Thompson Falls Lodge in Nyahururu.
Mr Bhubhinder Singh launching agro Z bags
Laikipia County Agriculture Director Mrs. Elizabeth Mwangi and Laikipia West Sub County Agriculture officer graced the launch. Others included Ward Agriculture officers drawn from the six wards of Laikipia West Sub County, Laikipia Maize Value Chain Development Network, Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN), and farmer representatives.
Speaking during the launch, AgroZ Group Marketing and Sales Manager Mr. Bhubhinder Singh noted that Post-harvest losses of grains and pulses are extensive and a major threat to food security in the Country.
He said that the hermetic bags kills insects and preserves farm produce for three seasons. He noted that the water-resistant and gastight storage solution is ideal for grains and pulses like maize, dry beans, peas, rice, sorghum, millet, soybeans, seeds, wheat, cocoa, and coffee.
He noted that bag has an inner multilayer polyethylene (PE) liner of five barrier layers and an outer woven polypropylene (PP) raffia sack.
“The hermetic bag can store commodities for a long period of over a year without the risks of moisture gain or loss, insect pest infestation and fungal growth,” said Mr. Bhubhinder.
He added that bag deprives insects of oxygen that kills them and stops mold growth, preventing food losses and aflatoxin contamination.
Other benefits of the AgroZ bag include prevents post-harvest losses from insect pests, no fumigation or chemical application required, effective against all insect storage pests, reusable for up to 3 seasons, and no loss of weight during storage.
He said that farmers have to ensure that the inner liner is not holed or damaged when acquiring it or before use.  During storage, it is advisable to remove all air pockets from the top of the grain then twisting the remaining part of the inner liner and after that bending it using the provided smooth tie.
participants being shown how to twist agro Z bag
The final step is to close the outer polypropylene (PP) bag and store in a dry cool place for at least one month before opening it in order to ensure suffocation of any insects introduced in the grain.
“The eco-friendly and pesticide-free hermetic storage bag preserves the quality and germination capacity of stored grains. It is ideal in preventing aflatoxin accumulation during storage,” said Mr. Bhubhinder.
He noted that the bags would help farmers reduce the high cost of chemicals used in preserving cereals. Transglobal Distributors Ltd. is distributing the AgroZ bag. Each is retailing at Kshs 250.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Why I value the Maarifa (Knowledge) centre: Charles Ngoro.

 Charles Ngoro is a frequent user of Ngarua maarifa centre in Sipili. The 60 year old farmer lives in Karaba village of Muhotetu division, Laikipia County.  Ngoro have been borrowing books and accessing information from the centre for a long time. He reads magazines and other publications. Whenever he returns the publication, he is always armed with a story to tell of what he has learned. 

In august 2011, he borrowed a magazine; ‘‘footsteps issue 48’’. The magazine featured articles on traditional medicine.  He was highly impressed by the title since he wanted to learn the relationships between modern medicine and traditional medicine. Immediately he signed the issuance book. I went with him to the Maarifa library to search for another book on poultry feeds formulation, I picked a pamphlet and he could easily pose; '‘I have already read that one’’. 

 ‘‘After reading the newsletter, I discovered that traditional medicines are derived from trees! I had never estimated the great value in a tree, apart from the common traditional uses like constructions, fuel wood and other small domestic chores, not until I read the stories ’’, Said Charles. 

Neem tree.
He learned about Neem tree (Azadirachta indica). He even identified one in a neighbour’s farm. The tree is widely used for medicinal purposes. It is used to treat diseases like malaria, sleeping sickness, skin problems such as acne, fungal infections, psoriasis, scabies and eczema and infected burns.  It can also be used to control head lice.

·         Malaria:- Make one litre of tea with five grams tried leaves or 40 fresh single, small leaves (not whole bunches) and drink 1 litre of tea during the day.
·         Sleeping sickness: - In addition to the recommended medical drugs, drink 1 litre of ‘‘Neem’’ tea each day.
·         Head lice: - Make a tincture with 10g dried leaves and 100ml alcohol and leave for 7 days. Use the tincture as a hair lotion 3 times a day for five days or pound some Neem seeds into a paste. Wash the hair each evening and then rub about 1 tea spoon of paste into the hair and leave until the next evening. Repeat the necessary.
·         To treat the skin problems mentioned above, make an ointment with 10g of Neem oil and 100g of ointment or make a tincture using 20g dried leaves and 100g alcohol 70% and leave to soak for a week. Apply ointment or mix 1 teaspoon of the leaves in 1 teaspoon of vegetables oil and rub in to affected areas.
·         Infected burns: - To prepare the medicine make a decoction with a handful of fresh leaves in 1 litre of water. Filter while still very hot to avoid contamination and cool. Use to wash and infected burn. Keep the patient under mosquito net to avoid new infection.

Apart from its rich nutritional value Pawpaw (Carica papaya) is used to treat:  intestinal worms, to clean dirty wounds, indigestion, Amoebic dysentery, open boils, infected wound and burns.

·         Intestinal worms. Intestinal worms are nuisance parasites that infect the gastro-intestinal tract in human beings and animals. Though they can live throughout the body they mostly prefer the intestinal tract. Human and animals gets exposed to the worms through several means including: ingestion of undercooked meat, drinking infected water, and skin absorption. Pawpaw latex has been used as a de-wormer. To obtain latex, wash the large unripe fruit still attached to the plant, make several vertical cuts 1 mm deep in the skin and collect the drops of the white sap in a spoon or cup. The knife and spoon used must be stainless steel, as traces of dust destroy the active chemicals, papine. Be careful to keep the latex out of the eyes. 

Dosage: - For adults take 4 teaspoonful of latex in the morning before eating. Repeat one week later. For babies of six months to 1 year give ½ teaspoon, for 1-3 years give 1 teaspoon, 4-6 years 2 teaspoons and 7 -13 year 3 teaspoons.

·         Dirty wounds:-  (to clean them) add a few drops of water to cool, boiled water.

·         Indigestion:- Add 1 or 2 drops of latex to your food or chew 3 pawpaw seeds

·         Amoebic dysentery: - Chew a teaspoon of fresh pawpaw seeds 3 times a day for 7 days for light cases. For serious cases, give 1 table’s spoon of ground seeds 3 times a day for 7 days.

·         Open boils infected wounds and burns: wash and cut the unripe pawpaw. With a clean stainless steel knife, cut a slice a little as a Childs little finger. Lay over the wound and secure with a bandage. Leave for 4 hours: though if it causes pain remove earlier. Repeat 4 times a day until all the infected pus has disappeared. In between these treatment, cover the wound with a honey and sugar mixture.

Passion fruits
Passions fruits passiflora edulis, not only supply the body with vitamin C, it also provides a traditional remedy for common colds, sleeplessness, anxiety, spasm (cramps), and asthma. 

·         Sleeplessness, anxiety and cramps. Make a tincture from 10g of dried young leaves in 100ml of alcohol. Use 30 drops 1-3 times a day.  For sleeplessness alone make a decoction by boiling 1 handful of young leaves in just 1 cup of water for 10 minutes. Drink each evening.

·         Asthma. To treat asthma and as a sedative (also for the previous condition), make a decoction by boiling 1 large handful of young leaves in 1 litre of water. Drink 1 litre of the decoction during the day.
Ngoro observed that the use of traditional medicine has greatly advanced in other countries like the democratic republic of Congo, where traditional medicines extracted from tree are used in hospitals.  He believes Kenya lags behind when it comes to the use of traditional medicine.
To him the maarifa centre is a great resource centre, ‘‘without which he would be living in ignorance of many things’’ Said Ngoro. 

He is of the view that the centre should be managing well and the library section improved and to enable easy access, follow up of books lend out. 

Source; footsteps issue 48.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Human wildlife conflict; Laikipia west.

‘‘Human-wildlife conflict referrers to the interaction between wild animals and people and the resultant negative impact on people or their resources, or wild animals or their habitat, it occurs when wildlife needs overlap with those of human populations, creating costs to residents and wild animals’’ Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 

  Such conflicts are witnessed in human settlement bordering animal sanctuaries and conservancies. Laikipia west is dotted with forests and conservancies home to wild animals. The rise in human population calls for increased and expansion of development, the global climate changes and other human and environmental factors puts people and wildlife in greater direct competition for the ever diminishing resources.

  A mention of wildlife elicits resentment among the communities of Ngarua laikipia west. Not necessarily because they don’t attach any value to wild life, but because the conflict have continued unabated for long.
  Tourism is now Kenya's largest foreign exchange earning sector, followed by flowers, tea, and coffee. Wildlife conservation is key for economic development. There is need to shift emphasis from reactive mitigation of human wildlife conflict to proactive prevention strategies. Sharing of ideas, information and experiences is essential to preventing and minimizing conflict between animals and human beings. 

 To address the menace of human-wildlife conflict requires greater interaction not only among, conservation organizations and other wildlife agencies, but also with economic and social development organizations, land use planners, agribusiness, and other key decision makers. This will only be achieved by providing a forum for communities to voice their concerns to relevant authorities. Communities in Ngarua have found the Arid lands Information Network’s Maarifa (Knowledge) centre, a useful tool in voicing their concerns. 

 Partnerships, network and Support.
  Information available on the internet indicates that a workshop of conservationist took in place in 2003, in Durban, South Africa, where the needs for a partnership initiative like Human-Wildlife Conflict Collaboration (H.W.C.C) were identified. The idea evolved from discussions amongst practitioners who realized sharing information was essential to resolve human-wildlife conflicts around the world. In November 2006, more than fifty conservation professionals, representing over forty organizations, convened in Washington, D.C. to identify priorities for collaboration on human wildlife conflict and to develop a framework for pursuing those priorities. 

 The result was the launch of the HWCC with an aim of meeting the collective needs for improved information exchange; Awareness raising and communication among key sectors; capacity building and training among practitioners; improved decision making and policy development; and enhanced understanding of the human dimensions of human-wildlife conflict.

 Forms of human wild life conflict.
In laikipia west, Human-wildlife conflict occurs in various forms. Some of them are as follows;

  Crop damage. Elephants are known for the severity of damage caused in the farms, the animal is also a threat to human security. Wild pigs and porcupines destroy cassava, potatoes, sweet potatoes and beans. Bird mouse commonly known as ‘‘metho’’ in kikuyu, is dreaded for savaging any green leafy vegetables, tomatoes and pawpaws. Baboons are common in areas bordering Laikipia conservancy and Lariak forests like Wangwachi and Karandi, respectively. 

 Livestock depredation. Carnivores like lion, leopards, cheerter and hyenas are known to attack livestock like cattle sheep and goats, other small animals and hawks goes for poultry. The large animals also cause human injuries and sometimes loss of life! A chilling story is being told in N’garua of a woman who was mauled completely by a lion in the recent past! 

 Damage to property. The large animals especially elephants are known to break into houses and granaries in search for grains.   

 Injuries to wildlife. In retaliation, communities may be tempted to attack and injure wild animals which are another source of conflict.

 Destruction of habitat. Destruction of wildlife’s habitat could be the cause of the conflict, wild animals become aggressive or looks for alternative coping mechanism. Wild animals can also destroy human habitats.

 Community responses.
The communities of Wangwachi and Lariak have explored on the issue and devised what is seen as the best long term solution to the problem. With support from CDTF, a 23 Km stretch of electric fence have been installed along the border of wangwachi and Laikipia conservancy to keep the large animals at bay. However the community still lament over small animals like baboons, warthogs that still invades their farms.