Friday, December 10, 2010

Safer Agro-chemicals: Blending indigenous knowledge with the new technologies.

Mr William Businei displays dead pests during 
his field trials where he used homemade agro-chemicals
 in his backyard garden.  Photo By BILLY MUTAI

 A ten-year study on herbal agro-chemicals could be the next frontier in safer and sustainable small scale farming, that is if William Businei’s initiative will be explored for large-scale production. Busienei of Koko’s herbal International disclosed that he acquired the skills from his farther who was a renown traditional healer in his community in the sixties.

 WIth a background indigenous knowledge, the Nakuru-based medic has invented a viable herbal pesticides and acaricides for controlling aphids, warms, mosquitoes, cattle ticks and for general disinfections. The product was tested and certified by Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), Muguga South and the pests controls indicated positive results with between 90 percent and 100 percent effectiveness.

Among the remedies he has produced include control of Diamond Black Moth (DBM), in kales and cabbage, Boll Warms in Tomatoes, Mites in Irish potatoes and Black Aphids in beans all with 100 percent
effectiveness.“The pesticides also have 90 percent positive results in controlling of mites in Managu, aphids in kales and cabbage and red spider mites in tomatoes,” said the herbalist. 

The new herbal discovery could lead to a re-awakening of conscience among the communities living in the natural environment to look at the indigenous vegetation as a source of wealth and solutions to the farming challenges, hence mitigation of climate change effects. 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Delivering information to the grassroots communities.

The Ngarua Maarifa centre is committed to take the message deep into the grassroots communities by all-means, that includes the use of books, magazines, demonstrations, word of mouth and technological innovations, this photograph shows women from a village called survey, 
in Olmoran division of Laikipia county. The group of women were thrilled by the ipod.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The youngest I.C.T user.

For the last several weeks, we have become accustomed to a babyish cry rending the air in morning. It’s from Brian a three years old boy resisting his mothers wish to proceed with journey. He wants to get in a rare affinity to computers. Wherever his mother passes near the Maarifa centre, the mother’s love in Brian is replaced by the love for computers! Unless he is hungry he can sit before the computer doing amazing things the whole day. 

 Wherever he enters the centre Brian who only speaks mother tongue, have the courtesy to request for permission to operate the computer. When permission is granted, he doesn’t require assistance, he knows which button to press and the machine comes to life. Nothing else makes more sense to Brian than the computer games, which he plays with gusto. This could easily be dismissed as childhood fantasy, but I think if looked critically it can be early signs of a career choice.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Photo story

The drip irrigation Kit, exhibited by the
ministry of agriculture, in Olmoran Division
Bett Kipsang the Ngarua Field officer
Addressing a group of women during a
Field day in Olmoran, Laikipia.  
Mr. John Kimaiyo the Assistant chief, Wangwachi sub-location carry tree seedlings, for planting
at Sipili primary. 

Friday, November 5, 2010

Indigenous crops: Understanding millet.

Francis Kiarahu: Farmer harvesting Millet
Millet refers to a group of annual grasses mainly found in arid and semi-arid regions of the world. Millet belongs to 5 genera: Penissetum, Eleusine, Setaria, Panicum & Paspalum.These grasses produces small seeded grains and are often cultivated as cereals. Millets can be used as grain or forage. When used as grain they are categorized as cereals. Read full story.

Mursik: Indigenous Milk Preservation Technology among the Kalenjins of Kenya.

By Bett Kipsang
Kenya is famous for its world conquering athletes who transverse the globe raking in medals and cash prizes. After various competitions the athletes are usually welcomed back home with jubilant singing, dancing and hoisting of the national flag. The Kalenjin community from the Rift Valley is famous for giving returning champions a drink of traditionally fermented milk known as mursik from a colourful gourd or sotet. As the following story demonstrates, mursik is a popular traditional beverage that has attained modern commercial value and its preparation is a science and skilful art. Read full story.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Is ‘‘Amaranth’’ the grain for the future?

By Peter Maina Mwaniki.
Mwaniki is a small-scale farmer living in the outskirts of Sipili trading centre, Sipili division in Laikipia County. Have been growing Grain Amaranth in small quantities, but he now advises that it is a crop worth growing for its nutritional value.

Grain Amaranth is regarded with great importance in many parts of the world. In U.S.A it is referred to as super grain or wonder grain, the Greeks refer to as immortal or living forever. They also say that the crop does not wither, Indians call it Ramadara meaning seed from God or Rajigia meaning kings seed. Read full story.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Networking and collaboration with Stakeholders

The following are highlights of an agricultural field day held in collaboration with National Agricultural and Livestock Extension Program, (N.A.L.E.P), at a place called Olmoran approximately 20 km from Sipili town where the Ngarua Maarifa Center is located.
 Olmoran is a cosmopolitan division, home to different ethnic communities: like the Pokots, Turkana, Kalenjin and Kikuyu. The field day took place at a farm in a village called Dam Samaki about five kilometers away from Olmoron trading center. Read full story 

Monday, November 1, 2010

Laikipia Centre for Knowledge and information LACKIN implementing N.M.K's grant.

Mrs. Kigano inspecting cassava with Mr.
Mwaniki a member of Ngarua facal group 
  The community capacity building initiatives being spearheaded by the Arid land Information Network (ALIN) in Ngarua has come of age. The community groups, which showed keen interest in ALIN’s programs, can now show the results; a typical example is Ngarua focal, which has grown to a Community Based Organization, formally registered with the name “Laikipia Center for Knowledge and Information. (LACKIN). The latter is currently hosting ALIN in Ngarua and both are stakeholders running the Ngarua Maarifa Center. Read full story.   

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The impact of Ngarua Media Encounter.

The impact of Ngarua media encounter is impressive; the reports on the Radio and television reached and sensitized many people about the services offered at the Ngarua Maarifa center. On Wednesday 30th/09/ 2010, just a day after the television news went on air, we started receiving phone calls and special visitors who are keenly interested to know what goes on at the Maarifa center. Read more

Monday, October 25, 2010

Farmer to farmer exchange visits.

  The members of Laikipia Center for Knowledge and information (LACKIN), and Ngarua ALIN focal group are unique in the way they share knowledge. Farmer-to-farmer exchange visits organized every month, where participants’ visits each other’s farms to learn new farming techniques, challenges and solutions to problems experienced. Read full  story. 

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Healthiest Foods on Earth

1. Berries
All berries are low in sugar and high in fiber. Blueberries have been shown to increase memory in lab studies, and raspberries and strawberries are loaded with ellagic acid, a powerful antioxidant that seems to have some anti-cancer properties, according to the American Cancer Society. Read more.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The plight of small-scale Agro-traders.

Small-scale farmers in Ngarua are trying their best to make ends meet. The farmers struggle with unfavorable climatic conditions, but even when they have managed to produce crops, they are still faced with a bigger challenge of accessing better markets for their commodities.

For the last eleven years, Mr Kinyua have relied on small-scale agro-business. He operates a grocery at Sipili trading center and buys his wares from farmers within the area and even have to travel as far as Tanzania for other commodities that are not available locally, though some of the crops can grow in Sipili, most farmers lack the knowhow or even the seeds.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Youths finds treasure at Maarifa center.

The youths learning I.C.T at Ngarua maarifa centre have taken the responsibility to ensure that the latter shines clean before classes commence every morning. As the saying goes, ''cleanliness is next to godliness'' they made a duty roster, as a guided for all the students carry out the noble duty. Read full story.

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Sharing about the services of the Ngarua Maarifa Center with farmers at Olomoran

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

''Fish and Frogs Rain'' Strange weather Occurence due to climate change.

Fish and frogs falling from the sky is an expected phenomenon, resulting from the stinging effects of climate change, Dr Mukabana of the metrological department said fish and frogs are sucked from the water surface by strong winds into the clouds, which eventually rain down all that has been collected.

When this happens on land, it is referred to as a tornado but if it occurs on water, it is called a waterspout.The Lake Victoria basin is among areas where this has been reported.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Knowledge makes the difference


 The arid and semi-arid areas are generally attributed, to prolonged droughts, famine, poor nutrition and many other negative attributes. Knowledge sharing with communities living in the semi arid zones of Laikipia has reversed the trend. Read full story.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Do you sit on a Gold mine?

 Many people in dry lands knows the value of water, to say that ‘water is life’ is more relevant to them than those in higher potential areas. People here have to go an extra mile and excavate the ground in search for the precious commodity. Read full story 



Friday, August 13, 2010

Adoption of Green house farming.

Tissue Culture Bananas; Alternative Agribusiness.

 Diffusion of knowledge among small scale farmers is one aspect leading to success in efforts to improve food security and household incomes. Communities in Ng’arua have started banana farming as an alternative agribusiness venture. The ALIN's Maarifa center has also upped the people's tendency and willingness to share whatever knowledge at their disposal.
 In the two minutes film, Mr. Charles Mureithi, explains to a woman how to plant and manage the tissue culture banana. Mureithi is the Chairman of a Local C.B.O, called ‘‘Laikipia Center for Knowledge and Information’’ (LACKIN) he also chairs the ALIN focal group which runs the Ngarua Maarifa center and is in the forefront in organizing and spearheading local community initiatives especially dealing with information sharing. 

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Rural Women in Agribusiness

Women are the majority of rural dwellers, this is true considering that most men goes to urban areas to look for ''Employment''. Instead of being left without a source of income, Agribusiness has become an occupation of choice for rural women. They need support and access to better markets and they are as good in creating employment through farming. The video is about a woman going against all the climatic odds to earn a living form farming in the dry lands of Laikipa county.

Information changing the lives of rural farmers.

When the Ngarua Focal Group visited ''Good Shepherd's Children Home'' on a charity mission, they learned of many innovations, on arrival they shared with other members back home. When Mwangi got the information from his neighbor who had had just arrived from the trip. He resolved to fuel his vehicle and went back with the neighbor to see for himself. Read full

Juicy Crops of Sipili

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Use of modern technology to boost crop yields and Marketing in Ng'arua

Farmers in the rural parts of ngarua employs all the known techniques to ensure that they improve crops yields...Read more.

Monday, June 28, 2010

UN agency begins procurement scheme to benefit Ethiopian farmers

UN agency begins procurement scheme to benefit Ethiopian farmers

The value of I.C.T training to the people of Sipili.

By Bett Kipsang.
Ngarua Maarifa center stands out in Sipili township as the only place you pop in and access the internet, read books, attend ICT training's and other information services free of charge. The question lingering in the minds of many people is....Read more

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Importance of Water to Man.


Luciah Muthoni Kaguru

Water is used for different purposes at home, for example washing clothes; drinking, bathing, washing utensils and cooking. In farms plants needs water for them to grow well. During dry seasons during water is used to irrigate crops. Livestock needs water for drinking after feeding every day. Some other animals like fish live in water. If they are removed fish from water they die....Read more


Beans are belongs to the group of legumes, they are edible and are an important source of protein in Kenya. They are grown in all for their dry seeds and green pods. They can be intercropped with other crops like maize and cassava....Read More

The universal crop.

Maize in Kenya grows well in an altitude of 2200m above sea level. It prefers medium temperatures, rainfall and attitude....Read More

Importance of crop farming.

Crop farming is an important economic activity in Countries such as Kenya and Uganda.... Read full story

The sweet potatoes

The word 'sweet' is used because of their sweet taste. Sweet potatoes vary in type. There is the white, red and the orange varieties...Read full story

Grafting Of mangoes.

A mango is an evergreen fruit tree of the cashew family. Mangoes are widely cultivated in the tropics. It bears fleshy yellowish fruits that are either eaten ripe or green.....Read full story

Our Environment

Means what surrounds us. These comprises of living things like plants, animals, insects, microscopic organisms and non-living things like rocks, soil, water etc. There are many challenges resulting from people's faillure to become accustomed to their environment.....Read full story

How to tame corruption.

The word Corruption is mentioned virtually everywhere everyday! The most common connotation is that it carries, negative attributes. It is commonly associated with underdevelopment, poverty, unemployment, projects failure etc. People are encouraged to fight corruption, but unless they answer correctly the question ‘‘what is corruption?’’ no meaningful results may be expected...Read full story

Maarifa Center; The Mother of Knowledge.

The following is a moving poem by a youthful user of the Ngarua Maarifa Center. Sam don't mince his words in describing how the Centre has benefited him and the entire community. The young school leaver could not watch from a distance, he has volunteered to help people access information as he also learn computer packages offered free of charge at the center. Enjoy the poem.

You are the mother of information,
You are the source of knowledge,
And the also the source of change,
To the whole of Sipili community,
Thank you ‘BIG’ Ng`arua Maarifa. Read full Poem

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Turkey farming in Ngarua.


A turkey is a large black or white kind of bird that is kept in homes as part of poultry. With good management turkeys are very productive and farmers keep them as a source of income. One can start turkey farming with only one or two turkeys. A female turkey can be reared alone then taken to the male one for the mating so that it can lay quality eggs for incubation. Read full story.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

E-marketing by rural communities

Marketing for Commodities in Ng'arua has gone a notch higher, since the introduction of E-marketing through ''Sokopepe'' system aimed at enabling farmers to access better prices and avoid exploitation by brokers. The video clip explores on farmer's problems, hard work and appeals for interventions.

The Tallest Kales of Ngarua.

Kale or borecole is a form of cabbage (Brassica oleracea Acephala Group), green or purple, in which the central leaves do not form a head. It is considered to be closer to wild cabbage than most domesticated forms...wikipidia’’
Sukuma Wiki is a popular Kenyan side dish that can be made out of collards or kale.

In Kenya, the plant traditionally used is a tall- growing cabbage variety elsewhere known as "walking stick cabbage" for the tall woody stalk it produces. It is often served with ugali, a porridge made from maize. Translated literally from Swahili, sukuma wiki means 'to push out the week', implying that it is a staple used to stretch the family meals to last for the week. Read full story.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tree planting.

By Naomi Ndichu.
A tree is a living thing inform of a plant that grows on land. There are different kinds and species of trees growing in different part of the country. Some trees are indigenous, like pine, cider, Olive Africana Etc. While others are exotic. Exotic trees ere introduced and planted in a given area, for example, Cyprus, Eucalyptus and fruit trees. Read full story

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Free I.C.T Training at Ng'arua Maarifa.


 Ngarua Maarifa Center is located at sipili trading center, Ngarua Division of Laikipia west District. The center offers computer trainings, and various information to communities free of charge. The need to offer such trainings stemmed from the vision of ''connecting communities with knowledge'', through I.C.Ts....Read full story



 Ngomongo farm is located in Sipili location of Ngarua division laikipa west district. One morning, the ALIN Field Officer based at Ngarua CKC, accompanied by a community reporter Mr. Samuel Githumbi, visited Mr' Thomas Ngwiri's farm. The farmer is a member of Ngarua ALIN focal group and have benefited  allot from information disseminated at the Ngarua Community Knowledge Center (C.K.C). Ngwiri's farm is endowed with several kinds of crops; pineapple, cassava, maize, sweet potatoes, Oranges, Beans, Pawpaws, cow peas and many others. He also keeps livestock like dairy goats, cattle and poultry.


 Ngomongo means ''a rocky place''. Farmers in the area must first remove stones from their farms to create space for crop production. Thomas Ngwiri have done it excellently, and he have created a nice farm, one can hardly believe it used to be rocky. Stones from his farm were more than enough for him to build a house and sold the surpluses. Even after doing that he still remained with several heaps of stones. The stones are arranged along the fence to give room for crops to grow.

Challenges and possible solutions.

 Accessing, crops market is a great challenge, he has always sold his fruits at throw away prices at Sipili trading center. However he is optimistic that the introduction of e-marketing shall solve the problem. Crop pests, diseases and wild life attacks on farms are a real menace in Ngomongo! Pineapples are frequently destroyed by elephants straying from a nearby forest. ''Whenever an Elephant enters your farm, you only wake up the following day to count losses'' Says Ngwiri. 

Elephants feed on the edible part of pineapples and can take time to look for the ripe ones, in the process, destroying other crops. However farmers have devised some means of chasing away the large animals by lighting fire or using a powerful touch to scare them away.  

 Porcupines on the other hand pose a threat to the hard working farmers. A single porcupine can feed on up-to ten to twenty ripe pineapples per night. This can be a source of great discouragement to a farmer. One day when Ngwiri was visiting a friend, several kilometers away from home. They happened to discuss the ongoing at their homes and farms. The sharing came with a sigh of relief for Ngwiri; He learnt how to trap the disturbing rodent.

 The techniques of trapping the large rodents is simple. One just needs to fold a wire mesh to a Conical shape, the wire is made in a manner that the entrance is enough for a porcupine to get in, then it gets smaller and smaller towards the other end. 

When the trap is ready, a farmer takes it to the hole from where the animals get into the farm. An innocent porcupine will squeeze itself into the trap, as it tries to get into the farm, and because the traps get thinner and thinner towards one end, the poor animal tries to move backwards on realized the going is not getting any smoother. 

 The prickles covering the entire body of the porcupine, gets trapped in the wire mesh preventing the animal from escaping. Early in the morning the farmer just goes to check the trap thus finding the animal inside. 

 Immediately he got the information, Ngwiri did not hesitate to try it, the results were quite encouraging', for a while his pineapples were not attacked. Once a porcupines is killed the rest can quickly sense danger and will not come to the same place again. 

 When he was done with the porcupines he thought it was time to relax and enjoy the fruits of his labour, little did he know that another pest in the name of wild birds, would come knocking. He discovered a wild bird which feeds on the pineapples leaving a shell of an outer covering, like porcupines the bird also feeds on ripe fruits. Mr. Ngwiri started covering the ripe pineapple using  black polythene packs. 

Soon afterwards the mischievous birds had discovered that, the black paper indicates where a ripe pineapple is, and their search for the fruits was even made easier. On realizing this Mr. Ngwiri withdrew from using the paper packs. Ngwiri now shares the skills with other farmer whose crops have been destroyed by the birds and porcupine. 


Bett Kipsang.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


 Communities living in Ngarua are mostly agricultural producers and small scale traders. They work really hard to produce food crops for subsistence use and surpluses for trade. ''You mention direct access to commodity markets and you take their attention by a swoop'' said Sam Githumbi, a youthful C.K.C user. This is true since, for many years he has witnessed the community suffer exploitation by middlemen who buys their produce at low prices.

 The introduction of E-marketing through the Agricultural Resource Platform (C.R.P) to the community therefore brings great relief to hardworking farmers whose gains are lost after changing many hands of middlemen and exploitative buyers. The portal is also called (Soko Pepe) in Swahili.

 A week after my arrival at Sipili, I attended a group meeting by small scale business people who have come together to combine their efforts in addressing their common challenges. All the members in attendance were women and this could attest to the fact that women have been empowered to run their own affairs equally, as men. At first I thought it was a women's only affair, I later learnt that there are some male members, but the participation of over 15 women in attendance was impressive. The chairperson who is a man, was out on other urgent group business.

The group so called Lengo Letu Self help Group, was started over 15 years ago and has a number of 23 members . It was started solely to bring together like minded individuals who had things to do in common. At first they went round visiting each member's home to survey and inspect their farms and the activities done there . Each member contributed small amount of money . As time went by, they conceived an idea of starting a micro-finance, to enhance their small scale business activities and farming.

The 23 members contributed money to a pool, raising over one hundred thousand Kenya shillings. The amount is then advanced to individual members in form of loans repayable with a small interest, “With our small business in the market, we are able to repay the loan without chasing members up and down”. Said one of the members during the meeting.
The presence and accessibility to such a loaning facility has enabled members to start small business especially buying and selling Agricultural produce i.e. cereals, fruits and vegetables which they trade at Sipili market.

In spite of limited availability of funds, the group has worked hard beating all odds to acquire plots and developing them. The group obtain cereals from large scale traders and transporters who have the capacity to buy and transport the stuff from far places where prices are low. Maize, beans and other cereals are brought from as far as Kitale and Lodiani districts. For now members of Lengo Letu can only afford to buy in small quantities due to the small amounts of capital and lack of access to external forms of credit. They have also started practicing agri-business i.e. growing of valuable and commercial crops like grain Amaranth and fruits.

 Their efforts are however faced with challenges ranging from drought, lack of sufficient capital, poor access to good markets on time, lack of access to external credit facilities and food shortages hindering smooth repayment of loans to their group's micro-finance.

 I had visited them to deliver the news of Agricultural Commodity Resource platform, also called (Soko Pepe) in Swahili. The role of the CKC is mainly documenting and disseminating information into the community. On learning of the new marketing opportunity, Members of LENGO LETU SELF HELP GROUP were optimistic on exploiting available opportunities that comes with the portal to expand their economic activities and enhance their social-economic life.

“Lengo letu” is a Swahili word meaning (Our goal) it's no doubt the group was formed with the goal of uniting like minded people to join hands in the struggle to realize development and give a concerted efforts to the fight against poverty. The C.K.C was established in partnership between a local Community Based Organized (C.B.O) called Laikipia Center for Knowledge and Information (LACKIN) and a Nairobi based international Network; the Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN). C.R.P is promoted by ALIN and LACKIN through Ngarua Community Knowledge Centre (C.K.C).

 Some members got a chance to learn more about the Community Knowledge Center “we have been seeing the office but we have never taken effort to know exactly what takes place inside” said one woman in the meeting. I took that chance to explain to them further about the progress of the C.K.C.

 The most captivating news to Lengo letu self help group was that of Soko Pepe which would be of tremendous help in marketing their agricultural produce, through creation of external linkages with other potential business associates: buyers, sellers and other service providers from other parts of the country.

Members learnt of other information channels from ALIN i.e. through journals like the Baobab and Kilimo Endelevu Africa Internet, the Open Knowledge Network (O.K.N), Computer training's , Field days, Exchange Visits, etc. They welcomed the news of the free issues of the magazines and asked me to register them so that they can be receiving them. Many promised to be visiting the C.K.C for more information.

What originally was a familiarization and orientation meeting, it turned out to be a serious involvement where a strong bond was established between the group, Lackin, ALIN and Ngarua C.K.C. However, some group members had already registered while some did not really know much about the C.K.C and services available.

The meeting was organized courtesy of one of the LACKIN's member Mr. Mwangi Kichuki who introduced me to one of the group's member. Who latter came to pick me at the C.K.C to attend that meeting. It's no doubt the rapport created at the meeting forged a good working relationship between the group and the C.K.C.

There are high prospects of success owing to the way LENGO LETU is very organized, they hold monthly meetings on the third Sunday of every month in a designated office at Sipili market . They urged me to be free to attend their meetings so as to update them on new developments since they would like to receive a lot of information on development.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Ngarua CKC an important Resource center.

Ngarua CKC is located at Sipili market in Ngarua division of Laikipia district. The center serves the community of Sipili through provision of information in books, magazines and other online materials.

In March 2010, a student from the University of Nairobi visited and identified some books which he said were very resourceful to him in his studies. The student by the name Evan Mathangari Njaramba, browed three books namely: ‘‘Guidelines for upgrading informal settlement, A summary of key investment opportunities in Kenya and Surface water drainage for low income communities’’.

When he brought back the books, Njaramba could not hide his pleasure and satisfaction. He came with a written note as follows, ‘‘These books provided good information relevant to urban and regional planning, the course I am taking in the University of Nairobi. Ngarua CKC is therefore an important resource center for passing information to the community in order to empower them and build their capacity to do more”.
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