Thursday, August 14, 2014

Ndhiwa Youths Celebrate International Youth Day in Style

Youths matching in town to mark the day and create awareness of the day.
International Youth Day - an initiative that takes place on 12 August every year to celebrate the potential of youth as partners in today's global society.  12th August was designated as International Youth Day (IYD) by the UN General Assembly in 1999. It is meant as an opportunity for governments and others to draw attention to key issues concerning the youth worldwide.

According to UNESCO, "IYD is an annual celebration of the role of young women and men as essential partners in change, as well as an opportunity to raise awareness of the challenges and hardships facing the world's youth." During IYD, concerts, workshops, cultural events, and meetings involving national and local government officials and youth organizations take place around the world.

Action Aid Exhibition stand
Ndhiwa sub-county being in a rural setup, most youths here would have missed out on such an important day if Action Aid, ALIN, County Women Representative office among other stakeholders couldn't have organized such an exhibition and ideology sharing platform at Ndhiwa CDF hall on the eve of this day. The event was officiated by a representative from the office of the Sub-County Commissioner, Ndhiwa.

It is a great honor to appreciate Action Aid organization for their commendable effort in majoring in the localization of this event here at the grass-root level for the ambitious youths to borrow a leaf on the working ideas from the exhibitors from other regions.

Bob Aston, ALIN, explains how unemployed youths can earn a living through ICT
During this activity, talented youths from all walks of life had the opportunity to showcase their ability under the events special theme ‘advancing employment opportunities for youths in HomaBay County’. Employment being the major challenge in over 70% of youths in this country, those in attendance was able to realize that they too could still earn a better living through self-employment.

The event attracted over 400 youths with a splendid presence of exhibitors who were earning a living through fashion and beauty, freelance journalism and blogging, music, performing arts, tailoring, garbage collection and recycling, government funding opportunities and tendering, CSO and NGOs among the present categories. Otherwise, the event was a success and youths learnt a lot from their colleague.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Adoption of the Push Pull Technology by a group of Farmers in Koduogo Village

Farmers on a field day training
In the morning of 23rd July 2014, members of Ndhisu horticultural group gathered once again in Koduogo for a sharing and learning moment organized by International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe) on the 'Push-Pull' technology.

 The push–pull technology is a strategy for controlling agricultural pests by using repellent "push" plants and trap "pull" plants. For example, cereal crops like maize or sorghum are often infested by stem borers. 
Grasses planted around the perimeter of the crop attract and trap the pests, whereas other plants, like Desmodium, planted between the rows of maize repel the pests and control the parasitic plant Striga. Push–pull technology was developed at the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) in Kenya in collaboration with Rothamsted Research, UK and national partners.

Maize inter-cropped with Desmodium
In history stemborers and striga weed are major problems in Maize production, especially in the larger Western Kenya where it has remained a staple food for most families. Both stemborer and striga weed has deeply lowered the farmers expected output despite the efforts they put in place. 
On this field day that was organized by icipe and was attended by a good number of farmers, at least a solution had been witnessed and realized from the demo sites by all farmers present and from the final analysis of the training, it was clear the technology adoption was now home to many. As ALIN, we had the chance to market our Soko+ and Farmis platforms to the farmers who registered with us.  Otherwise, You may need to learn more on how push pull technology works:

How Push Pull Works
Mulato grass
The push–pull technology involves use of behaviour-modifying stimuli to manipulate the distribution and abundance of stemborers and beneficial insects for management of stemborer pests. It is based on in-depth understanding of chemical ecology, agrobiodiversity, plant-plant and insect-plant interactions, and involves intercropping a cereal crop with a repellent intercrop such as Desmodium uncinatum (silverleaf) (push), with an attractive trap plant such as Napier grass (pull) planted as a border crop around this intercrop.

Gravid stemborer females are repelled from the main crop and are simultaneously attracted to the trap crop. Napier grass produces significantly higher levels of attractive volatile compounds (green leaf volatiles), cues used by gravid stemborer females to locate host plants, than maize or sorghum. There is also an increase of approximately 100-fold in the total amounts of these compounds produced in the first hour of nightfall by Napier grass (scotophase), the period at which stemborer moths seek host plants for laying eggs, causing the differential oviposition preference.

However, many of the stemborer larvae, about 80%, do not survive, as Napier grass tissues produce sticky sap in response to feeding by the larvae, which traps them, causing their mortality. Legumes in the Desmodium genus (silverleaf, D. uncinatum and greenleaf, D. intortum), on the other hand, produce repellent volatile chemicals that push away the stemborer moths. These include (E)-β-ocimene and (E)-4, 8-dimethyl-1,3,7-nonatriene, semiochemicals produced during damage to plants by herbivorous insects and are responsible for the repellence of Desmodium to stemborers.

Desmodium plant
Desmodium also controls striga, resulting in significant yield increases of about 2 tonnes/hectare (0.9 short tons per acre) per cropping season. In the elucidation of the mechanisms of striga suppression by D. uncinatum, it was found that, in addition to benefits derived from increased availability of nitrogen and soil shading, an allelopathic effect of the root exudates of the legume, produced independently of the presence of striga, is responsible for this dramatic reduction in an intercrop with maize.

Presence of blends of secondary metabolites with striga seed germination stimulatory, 4′′,5′′,-dihydro-5,2′,4′-trihydroxy-5′′,-isopropenylfurano-(2′′,3′′;7,6)-isoflavanone, and postgermination inhibitory, 4′′,5′′-dihydro-2′-methoxy-5,4′-dihydroxy-5′′-isopropenylfurano- (2′′,3′′;7,6)-isoflavanone, activities in the root exudates of D. uncinatum which directly interferes with parasitism was observed. This combination thus provides a novel means of in situ reduction of the striga seed bank in the soil through efficient suicidal germination even in the presence of grassy host plants in the proximity. 

Other Desmodium species have also been evaluated and have similar effects on stemborers and striga weed and are currently being used as intercrops in maize, sorghum and millets.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Introducing FARMIS Kenya to HomaBay County

Poor record keeping has been cited as one of the major challenges many farmers in Kenya face in management of their farms, as many of them are unaware about the importance and value of record and information management.

This will be done through the introduction of Farm Record Management Information System – Kenya (FARMIS Kenya). FARMIS Kenya is run by Sokopepe Ltd, a social enterprise under license from Fit Uganda. FARMIS seeks to be the leading provider of ICT business solutions for farmers in East Africa by transforming the way farmers carry out record keeping.

The tested system enables farmers to capture a farmers profile and record all their farming enterprises capturing costs of tilling, inputs, labour, harvesting and post-harvest operations for crops and similar records for livestock. By doing that a farm’s total productivity is documented and farmers are able to extract a profit and loss statement at the end of each season.

It comes with various benefits such as: improved automated record keeping, current market information, enhanced access to credit facilities, evidence-based decision making, access to 24 hour online platform, opportunity for group produce marketing, seasonal farm books provided for reference, market linkages to buyers and sellers and access to relevant farming tips.

“Proper record keeping is important as it will help you to know whether you are making a profit or loss. When you keep your records well it will be easier to monitor your farming activities, determine which business line in your farm is breaking and even the ones that are eating into your profit margins,” said Mwangi - Sokopepe LTD at a launch event in Laikipia.

FARMIS will allow farmers to jointly coordinate a number of related activities at the farm, supported by data analysis, storage, and retrieval for possible linkages to partners or stakeholders.
Registered farmers will purchase a Farm Book at Kshs. 850 per year for better records keeping and management. The system will also generate interactive reports like ledger reports, profit and loss accounts and balance sheet.

“Every year a farmer will be able to receive a progress report on his farming activities. Formalizing your farm records will help you as a farmer to improve your economic gains and increase profits,” said Mwangi. He added: “Effective record keeping and information management is key to the running of a successful agri-business. Good record keeping can help a farmer to track his expenses and determine the ‘financial sinks’ in the farm.”

Currently in Ndhiwa, we are performing primary farmers profiling at no fee and we are targeting over 2000 farmers possibly by September 2014. If you are a farmer no matter you scale of production, please do not let this opportunity slip out of your arms. The exercise is on going and if we do not manage to reach you, please reach us via Ndhiwa Maarifa Centre. For more information click Farmis Kenya Site

Monday, June 9, 2014

First Aid Awareness Training at Ndhiwa Maarifa Centre

With the current job competition in Kenya, qualifications keep on varying from one subject to the other. Things have now changed from the concentrated ICT skills and now having First Aid skills is being the order of the day in most industries and technical jobs.
On 3rd June 2014, Ndhiwa Maarifa Centre was glad to host a team from First Aid Africa on a four hour training of the 30 youths during their first aid awareness campaign. Being fresh from school, most of these youths had never received an opportunity to embed their future carriers apart from the free basic ICT training offered by ALIN.
The major intention onto why First Aid Africa offering this course is not for the teams to acquire jobs, but it is a matter of them being aware on how to save a life whenever an incident calls for. The key aims of first aid can be summarized in three key points:-

Preserve life: the overriding aim of all medical care, including first aid, is to save lives and minimize the threat of death.

Prevent further harm: also sometimes called prevent the condition from worsening, or danger of further injury, this covers both external factors, such as moving a patient away from any cause of harm, and applying first aid techniques to prevent worsening of the condition, such as applying pressure  to stop a bleed becoming dangerous.

Promote recovery: first aid also involves trying to start the recovery process from the illness or injury, and in some cases might involve completing a treatment, such as in the case of applying a plaster to a small wound.

First aid training also involves the prevention of initial injury and responder safety, and the treatment phases. So far through the Maarifa Centre, we have been able to organize training access to over 200 community members for the past four years. We thank First Aid Africa team for their partnership commitment.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

HomaBay ATC Principal makes a Field follow up to Got Kowiti Livelihood 6 months after a production Training

On the 12th Feb 2014, Mr. Adel, the Principal of HomaBay Agriculture Training Centre and the farm manager found time amidst their tight schedules to make a follow up trip to Got Kowiti Livelihood and Development Group, a team that had been supported by ALIN and Kobama Ministry of Agriculture to attend a one day training at the centre.
The team had been trained on the bulb onion production and local poultry production in mid last year after they had made consistent request of their interest. 
From what the two officials saw in the field (1 Acre farm of bulb onions), they got pleased and encouraged members present to keep up the amazing spirit. Later after the farm visits, the group received further training from the ATC teachers and i tell you this day was amazing.

Groundnut growth and yield response to fertilizer application

 Groundnut is an important food, feed and cash crop in Eastern Africa but in Kenya it has a yield gap of 2.5 t ha-l and this is attributed to low soil fertility, diseases, poor seed quality and poor husbandry practices. Soil exhaustion being ranked as the major groundnut production constraint in Sub Saharan Africa and particularly in Western Kenya it was necessary to evaluate the response of growing high yielding and disease tolerant (groundnut rosette virus disease) varieties with the use of various fertilizer types and rates. This would ensure increased productivity for the smallholder farmers who predominantly produce the crop at a profitable production regime. On-station experiments (fertilizer types and rates) were conducted in two sites, which included Kenya' Agricultural Research Institute (KARl) site at Alupe in Busia district and Ministry of Agriculture's Agricultural Training Centre (ATC) site at Siaya district during the long rain (March - July 2007). Read more..

Courtesy of University of Nairobi.