From January 11, 2018:
- Poultry production- We now have community based poultry production guidelines which were developed jointly by a consultant, farmers, and livestock department officers. We are organizing on the printing of copies so that we can share this information with the farmers and county department of Agriculture. The chicks given to farmers in June of 2017 are now laying eggs.
- Food storage construction- 1 storage facility is completed and was handed over to the community in December of 2017. Two others are under construction. The one in Kikuu WRUA (farmer organization) is at 10% completion while the one at od Nditiku (another farmer organization) is at 80% completion.
- Food security- The Oct.-Nov.-Dec. rains did not do well in the region. The expected yield/harvest will be about 40% of what it should be with adequate rainfall. This raises a red flag as the area may be hit by another drought if the March-May rains are not adequate.
- Micro-Irrigation- Two greenhouses have been replanted and are doing well. The Groups have planted spinach, onions, okra, and watermelons on their plots.
- Trainings- In December 2017 we trained 100 farmer leaders on financial risk management.
- Business plans/strategic documents- we have three Farmer Organizations who have been supported to develop the Business plans. They are currently being reviewed by the stakeholders for adoption by the farmers.
From October 3, 2017:
- Good weather news! Rain is expected later this month, with the forecast showing hope for normal to above normal rainfall for the season.
- Farmers are now preparing their farms for the rainy season by plowing, ripping, and planting.
- The greenhouses for women and youth groups have had a very positive effect, enabling families to buy the food they need.
- Preparations are being made to harvest rainwater with terraces and zai pits.
- 300 farmers will be provided with seeds for 1 acre’s-worth of green grams each (a good cash crop) after they have had their land ripped.
- 2400 chicks have been distributed! 1200 of these were provided free of charge to farmers who participated in poultry training, and 1200 were provided at 50% cost (this helps to ensure commitment to care and use of the chicks).
- We have partnered with a private company to get farmers crop insurance. This company provides education along with the insurance package to help farmers figure out what to do to minimize losses.
- We are working with 5 school agricultural clubs so that they can use their school farms in a profitable way. Students participating in these clubs are about 11-13 years old, and they will be able to share what they learn with their parents to help them improve their farms as well.
From September 20, 2017:
- Farmers are currently preparing their farms for planting and learning about the importance of soil ripping. Staff have met with all 10 farmer organizations to encourage them to pay for ripping services (this costs about $17 per acre, but is well worth it in productivity!). Out of 300 acres total that these farmers are working with, 62 acres have been ripped so far, and this process will go through the 3rd week of October. Farmers will be receiving about 2kg of green grams (a nutritious cash crop) each to plant on this land.
- Another 1200 chicks were delivered last week. We now have 100 poultry farmers who are a part of the project, and chicks were made available for other farmers in the area to purchase as well. A training will be held this week on how to make chicken feed with things that farmers already have locally– a much cheaper and more resourceful solution than buying chicken feed from markets!
- 2 of the 4 greenhouses have reached tomato production peak, so stalks are being uprooted and the soil is being tested for acidity/alkalinity as well as any harmful microorganisms. After this testing, groups working in these greenhouses (one women’s group, one youth group) will be given advice on planting a different crop and will make that decision together.
- The other 2 greenhouses are still producing tomatoes (but at a slightly lower production level than hoped for due to challenges with seedlings drying out early on). Because these greenhouses had delayed production, these groups didn’t get to sell their tomatoes for as high of prices as the others because many tomatoes were already in the market.
- The 7 schools in the area will be receiving 4kg of green grams each to plant for both additional income and food as well as an opportunity to teach farming techniques to students.
- We are working with the Department of Agriculture and the leaders of farmer organizations to get farmers to sign up for crop insurance to protect against weather-related losses.
- We have finished constructing 1 crop storage facility and are now getting weighing scales and fire extinguishers for that facility. We have started constructing 2 other storage facilities and hope to finish those by the end of October.
- We are currently working to get a consultant to help poultry farmers put together community-based chicken management and marketing guidelines.
- We are also working to get another consultant to work with farmers to put together their own long-term business plans.
From July 25, 2017:
- Our Kenya staff recently visited the youth working on one of the greenhouses and have some great news: they have a contract with a local restaurant to supply tomatoes and have already begun making good money from that! In fact, they were able to invest some of that income in their village savings and loan association for the benefit of the whole community– this is a great example of how one activity in the project can boost and compliment another!
- The other youth greenhouse was doing very well, but unfortunately their tomato plants experienced a surprise plant infection. At first, they thought they would have to uproot the plants and start over, but luckily they have had good support from the local government agencies to help them figure out what went wrong. The infection turned out to be a tomato blight, which the youth group was able to treat instead of uprooting the plants, and the tomatoes are beginning to respond to that treatment. Here’s a photo of the plants affected by the blight:
- Farmers are currently being informed of the benefits of ripping in their farms (preparing to plant), and are being mobilized to pay for such services.
- The drought in the area is ongoing– this makes income diversification activities, like poultry and greenhouses, even more important! All 1,000 targeted beneficiaries have been reached in drought relief work.
- Next month, we’ll begin coaching on record-keeping for the village savings and loan organizations!
From June 20, 2017:
- 2 sand dams are complete! These will help farmers to collect water.
- 100 farmers have been trained on poultry, and 1200 chicks were just delivered! This will help farmers to diversify their income.
- Savings/loan groups have been formed, allowing farmers to help each other purchase the things they need when times are hard.
- 4 greenhouses (2 for youth groups, 2 for women’s groups) are up and running.
- 150 farmers who are leaders of their farmer organizations have been trained in negotiation skills, price setting, and leadership.
- Farmers will soon be trained in making business plans so that they can learn to plan ahead for their future to be successful!
- The drought in the area persists. Because of this, LWR is using emergency funds to help families in need in the area. LWR is implementing cash-for-work programs, in which people may be employed in some sort of project that benefits the community so that they can buy food. Those participating will receive food vouchers for their work, and local businesses can redeem these for cash from LWR. Some of the work involved in this program includes planting trees around sand dams to better capture and harvest water, repairing roads in/out of villages, repairing water harvesting structures and planting trees near schools.
- Interesting fact about our project work! Did you know that our project area borders a national park? Because of this, animals tend to come and go, and elephants actually trample crops on farms that border the park. However, elephants can actually be deterred by planting a certain variety of chilies on the border of the farm, and these chilies are actually a very high-value crop in the market as well! Farmers in this area are being trained to grow these chilies, preventing their other crops from being trampled and helping them get more money for their crops in the market, too!