Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Creating jobs through farm innovation

By Bett Kipsang’ 

Youths in Kenya are hard hit by unemployment today; there is even much talk and suggestions to declare unemployment a National Disaster! But when you look around you see a lot of untapped opportunities and underutilized resources lying idle.

Farming is one such field, which needs to be revisited with an open mind, proactive approaches and changed attitude. For example, populations are constantly rising and that alone is an opportunity for the farmer to provide food.
Anthony Mbogo, sprinkling water on the onions.
 Anthony Mbogo, a farmer in Kinamba Division has discovered an opportunity in his farm. The farm has a gentle slope, where the lower end has a shallow water table. Anthony excavated a shallow well, which got filled with water. 

He then bought an engine water pump, pipes and started irrigation farming throughout the seasons. ‘‘Whenever I pump out this water, it gets replenished after 24 hours,’’ said Anthony.

Today Anthony is a happy farmer, fending for his family and educating his children from the proceeds of the farm. As a frequent user of the Maarifa Centre he comes for inquiries on new tips on how to improve his farm and even new technologies like how to make a vegetable drier. I have downloaded detailed information and samples of a solar drier available from the Practical Actions website, and delivered to him.

 Anthony however uses a lot of energy controlling the heavy water pipes; a lot of water is wasted thus consuming more fuel, and hiking the cost of production. An alternative to that method would be to make furrows, such that water will be pumped to the higher sides and released downwards through the furrows, then channel the water in furrows as he close them when the soil is wet.

After discussing and demonstration on the new method, Anthony agreed that the new method would be more convenient than the earlier one he was used to.

The farmer also learned that he could plant on both sides of the furrows, to increase the number of plants, utilize water and increase production.
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