Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Rahab and Her Turkey and Chicken at Farmers Innovation Fair

 By: Joyce Okuta, John Njue and Bett Kipsang’

Rahab Githumbi holding the certificate and a bag awarded at EAFIF
Memories of the just concluded East African Farmer Innovation Fair (EAFIF) will for a long time linger in the minds of the fifty innovative farmers selected to participate at the event. 

The two days event which took place at the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), Kabete-Nairobi, at the end of May 2013 brought together farmers, leaders, students, the public and scientists to share farming innovations.

ALIN participated at the EAIFF, by nominating innovative farmers around the Maarifa centres for final selection by PROLINOVA; the convening organization. The exhibitors drawn from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia were among the 50 selected farmers to showcase their unique agricultural innovations to the members of the public.

The fair was designed to call attention to the importance of farmer innovation in agricultural development, to celebrate farmers’ creativity, and to bring policymakers and the general public in Kenya in contact with farmer innovators. 

'Mother' turkey and five chicken showcased at the EAFIF
Rahab Githumbi, commonly known as ‘Mama Turkey’ from Ngarua Maarifa Centre could not hold down her joy, when her phone rang to receive the good news about being selected among the best 15 innovative farmers in Kenya.

“When I filled the entry form with assistance from Noah, I thought there was nothing serious in it, but when I got the news that I will travel to Nairobi to showcase my work, I was thrilled”, says  Rahab, a member of Ng’arua Focal Group.

On her exhibition stand was a turkey, a hen and five chicken reared by ‘mother’ turkey. Chicken and turkeys can coexist harmoniously and even hatch each other’s eggs. Rehab’s innovation was documented in ALIN’s Baobab Magazine Issue 52 in 2008; http://www.rufford.org/files/Baobab,%20Issue,%20May%202008.pdf and also posted on the Ngarua maarifa centre blog http://ngaruamain.blogspot.com/2010/08/turkey-farming-in-ngarua.html. During the fair, over 900 copies of the article were disseminated to visitors from her stand.

Rahab displayed a huge turkey, which hatched and reared five chickens, an innovation which attracted many visitors to her stand. People were wondering what benefits turkeys brought the hens. The visitors asked many questions about where she got the turkeys, if there was market for turkeys, if she sells them at her farm, if the turkey could take good care of the chicks after brooding. Scientists were interested to know if she had shown the innovation anywhere else.

The comments made were tremendous; they lauded her good work and high returns she got from her sales per year. She also learned a lot from scientists and other farmers who were willing to share some tips with the farmer. She got an idea on how to produce young turkey chicks at once by delaying a broody turkey until the rest are broody so that they can start sitting on the eggs at the same time. 
Visitors at Rahab's stand read publications
This can be made possible by providing a few cooked eggs to a turkey that gets broody ahead of others. She learned from Chrisitine Kilonzo a farmer from Mwingi on predetermining the sex of the chicks by just observing the egg ends! She can easily now choose to hatch only hens or cockerels.
The most striking thing in this innovation is the unlimited market for turkeys.  ‘‘I discovered during the fair that the demand for turkeys and their eggs was higher than I could imagine, and I will never lack the market, even if I had five hundred of them’’ said Rahab.

She got over 100 orders of turkeys and turkey eggs. She said she will work extra hard to ensure that all her clients get the turkeys. Rahab is highly motivated since she has realized that people are interested in turkey rearing. She now plans to expand her project by injecting more capital and effort to produce for the ready market.

Rahab says that the exhibition was an eye-opener to her and exposed her to both national and international visitors; she attributes all these to ALIN.

The best innovators from Kenya and Ethiopia were awarded with trophies; Simon Musila who exhibited Growing finger millet through seedlings was awarded.

Rahab was awarded with certificate and a bag. ‘‘I will always remember this day’’ said Rahab.

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