Monday, November 30, 2015

Investing in Maize Value Chain in Ol-Moran Ward

By Bob Aston
The Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) through Ng’arua Maarifa Centre in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Fisheries held a two day workshop on Maize Value Chain at Olivia Court Motel, Sipili in Laikipia West Sub County on November 25-26, 2015.
A total of 85 farmers drawn from Ol-Moran Ward attended the workshop. Its aim was to enhance farmer’s production skills on maize value chain, to share production and marketing experiences, to enhance systematic record keeping by maize farmers, to improve cereals aggregation and to reduce post-harvest grain losses.
Farmers keenly following proceedings during the workshop
Speaking during the opening of the workshop, Mr. Noah Lusaka, ALIN Projects Manager noted that the organization has been involved in improving farmer’s access to knowledge and skills through various Maarifa Centres in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania.
He said that in Ol-Moran Ward the organization is promoting Maize, tree tomato and tomato value chains. Through a participatory approach in 2013, farmers had identified the three value chains as the priority areas in the ward.
“We have been organizing workshops and field days for farmers in the three value chains. We expect that the information gathered by farmers will help them adopt best agricultural practices and thus realize better returns,” said Mr. Lusaka.
He said that ALIN aims to strengthen the three value chains and ensure farmers play an active role in the value chains. He noted that the organization is keen in promoting the value chain approach as this can promote inclusive economic growth.
Some of the challenges listed by farmers included high input cost,  frequent droughts, substandard inputs, low soil fertility, human-wildlife conflict, lack of access to appropriate information, difficulty in accessing credit facilities, high cost of unskilled labour, pests and diseases, and high post-harvest losses.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Fisheries noted that land under maize cultivation in Ol-Moran Ward has been increasing while production has been declining over the years. Most farmers noted that they are harvesting an average of 10-18 bags per acre.  
Mr. Kipkemei from EAGC addressing the farmers
During the workshop, a lot of emphasis was on the importance of soil analysis as an aid to assessing soil fertility and plant nutrient requirements and management as well as adoption of best agricultural practices as the best ways of reversing the decline in maize production.
Mr. Kipyegon Kipkemei from the Eastern African Grain Council (EAGC) urged farmers to aggregate their cereals instead of selling cheaply to traders. 
He said that EAGC is working with cereal banks in the ward to ensure that they receive Warehousing Receipting System certification.
”Warehousing Receipting System helps in mobilizing agricultural credit by creating secure collateral for farmers. It also ensures better storage facilities as well as reduced risks in the agricultural markets,” said Mr. Kipkemei.
He said that farmers have the option to sell when they can get the best price for their cereals. This reduces exploitation during the harvest season when the farm gate prices are low.
The farmers learned about production practices and management, agribusiness and value addition, soil management, SOKO+ sms platform, warehousing receipting system (WRS), pests and disease control, harvesting and post-harvest management, maize record keeping system, storage, and storage facilities, and drying, shelling and grading.

Special issue of Joto Afrika out

By Bob Aston
The Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) is pleased to present a special edition of Joto Afrika newsletter. This edition presents key initiatives the Ministry of Environment Natural Resources and Regional Development Authorities (MENRRDA) and its partners have undertaken in realizing a low emission and climate resilient development pathway.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) supported the production of the special edition of the newsletter by funding the Low Emission and Climate Resilient Development (LECRD) Project, within the framework of the US Government led effort on Enhancing Capacity for Low Emission Development Strategy (EC-LEDS).
Joto Afrika, meaning “Africa is feeling the heat’ in Kiswahili is a series of printed briefings and online resources about low emission and climate change adaptation actions. The series helps people understand the issues, constrains and opportunities that people face in adapting to climate change and escaping poverty.
The  special issue of Joto Afrika
According to Richard L. Lesiyampe (PhD) MBS, Principal Secretary MENRRDA, the special edition had featured some initiatives made by non-state actors toward strengthening the national response to climate change.
This is to demonstrate that an effective climate response must involve all stakeholders working in a coordinated manner, hence harnessing different experiences and lesson for maximum effectiveness.
He noted that climate change presents a special global challenge to the social and economic development agenda. Kenya has taken important steps towards effectively addressing the phenomenon, including putting in place relevant policies and strategies.
The country, for example, was among the first in Africa to come up with a National Climate Change Response Strategy (NCCRS) in 2010. Thereafter in 2013, Kenya launched the National Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP, 2013–2017), which is the blueprint for implementing the NCCRS.
Additionally, Kenya is in the process of formalizing both the National Climate Change Framework Policy and Climate Change Bill.
In response to the decisions adopted by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the country has now developed its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) on reducing Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions that was submitted in July 2015.
The INDC has an ambitious target of 30 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030. It is in line with the low carbon climate resilient development pathway, which Kenya has adopted.
Kenya has also set in place a mechanism for raising public awareness about climate change as a way of ensuring all-round involvement of citizens in combating its negative impacts and taking advantage of opportunities.
In a bold step to bring this about, the government has constructed a National Climate Change Resource Centre in Nairobi, which is open for public use. It is the national repository for climate change information relevant to Kenya.
The Resource Centre incorporates green building concepts such as use of solar power, biogas, and water recycling. The Centre has a library, amphitheater and training facilities for dissemination of climate related information.
A virtual online version of the Climate Change Resource Centre in the form of a one-stop climate change portal is currently under development to ensure widespread access of climate change information by the public.
It is our hope that readers will find this special issue informative and add value to their work on addressing the challenges and opportunities that come with climate change. You can download a copy of the special Joto Afrika issue here.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Can Paris climate deal end funding drought to help the poor cope?

By Megan Rowling, BRACED
BARCELONA - African governments will push hard at U.N. climate talks over the next two weeks to right what they see as a global wrong that is now becoming starker: a drought of financial support to help the people who are bearing the brunt of a warming planet.
As negotiations on a new deal to tackle climate change start in Paris on Sunday, millions of Africans are going hungry due to the combined impacts of a strong El Nino weather pattern and longer-term climate shifts, with drought and floods affecting Ethiopia, Somalia and Zimbabwe, to name but a few places.
In West Africa, creeping deserts and rising seas are increasingly driving people from their homes to migrate to other parts of the politically volatile region - and in some cases north towards Europe.
Yet money to help vulnerable people cope with climate pressures has not been forthcoming from international donors in anything like the amounts experts say are needed.
World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said this week that African governments would come to Paris "thinking about the very clear justice issues that are very much present around climate change".
A man salvages furniture from flooded homes.REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin

"Any African leader will tell you that they've had very little role in putting the carbon in the air that's currently (there) but that they suffer most from the impacts of climate change: extreme weather events, the loss of arable land," he told journalists.
A recent report from the bank found that, without development that helps countries prepare for climate change, 43 million more people in sub-Saharan Africa - mostly in Ethiopia, Nigeria, Tanzania, Angola and Uganda - could fall into extreme poverty by 2030 due to lower crop yields, higher food prices and adverse health effects linked to climate change.
Despite these risks, funding for adaptation measures - including protecting infrastructure, growing hardier crops, building storm shelters, resettling at-risk families and issuing weather warnings - accounts for less than a fifth of total international funding for climate action.
The rest is spent on curbing greenhouse gas emissions by boosting renewable energy use and energy efficiency.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

World Bank sets out plan to bolster Africa against climate change

By Megan Rowling, BRACED
BARCELONA - The World Bank aims to drive more funding into efforts to help African countries withstand climate change impacts and boost their clean energy production through a $16 billion plan revealed on Tuesday.
The "Africa Climate Business Plan" lays out investments to make the continent's people, land, water and cities more resilient to droughts, floods, storms and rising seas, increase access to green energy, and strengthen early warning systems.
World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said sub-Saharan Africa is "highly vulnerable to climate shocks", which could have deep effects on everything from child stunting to malaria and food price increases.
"This plan identifies concrete steps that African governments can take to ensure that their countries will not lose hard-won gains in economic growth and poverty reduction, and they can offer some protection from climate change," he added in a statement.
The plan outlines measures for "fast-tracking" adaptation to climate change, costing almost $10.7 billion from 2016 to 2020.
Effects of floods in Banawa District, Kaduma, Nigeria.REUTERS/Stringer
They include helping some 10 million farmers adopt resource-efficient techniques and hardier crop varieties, improving water management in the Niger, Lake Chad and Zambezi basins, reducing coastal erosion, strengthening flood protection, and restoring degraded land and forests.
The African region requires $5 billion to $10 billion per year to prepare for global warming of 2 degrees Celsius, the plan said, an amount that could rise to $20 billion to $50 billion by mid-century.
But experts say pledges from some 170 countries to curb their planet-warming emissions would still permit global average temperatures to increase between 2.7 and 3.7 degrees from pre-industrial times, suggesting adaptation costs will be higher.
Levels of funding for adaptation in Africa today amount to an annual $3 billion at most, "which is negligible considering the needs", the World Bank plan said.
Ahead of U.N. climate talks in Paris from Monday, tasked with agreeing a new global deal to curb global warming, the bank said its plan's emphasis on climate adaptation fitted priorities expressed by African states in their national action plans submitted as a basis for the deal.

As water falls short, conflict between herders and farmers sharpens

By Wesley Langat
KIBOYA, Kenya - It is a hot, windy afternoon in Kiboya village. Dusty leaves swirl around William Ekidor, his wife Martha and their two sons as they sit under an acacia tree by the Kajunge dam, queuing with their animals for water.
Ekidor and his family, pastoralists who herd 140 cattle, sheep and goats for a living, have travelled over 10 kilometres (6 miles) to the dam, the only remaining water source in the area, and a major source of conflict in the lowland basin of Laikipia County.
"About three years ago, there was plenty of pasture and water," Ekidor explains. "Now seasons have become very unpredictable, disrupting our planning."
Longer dry seasons and uncertain rains have put pressure on pastoralists who normally migrate with their livestock to Olmoran ward, where Kiboya is located, during the dry season in search of pasture and water.
At the same time, growth in farming in the area has led to increased demand for water for crops and livestock by farmers.
A herder grazes his cattle in a dry maize field in Laikipia, Kenya.TRF/Wesley Langat
Kiboya, about 250km (150 miles) from Nairobi, Kenya's capital, is inhabited by farmers who live mainly in higher altitude areas, while pastoralists tend to keep to the lower areas.
But water shortages are now forcing the herders to move upstream, leading to clashes when their animals graze on farmers' land. It is a pattern that is playing out in other parts of Laikipia County too.
Kenya ranks high in vulnerability to climate change and low in readiness to deal with it, according to the University of Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index in 2014.
Laws as well as climate shifts play a role in conflict over resources.
Most land in Laikipia was until recently owned communally by pastoralists and administered by county councils, but the government sold 50 percent of it to ranchers in 2012, with the rest occupied by small-scale farmers.
The change in land rights has contributed to a tussle for water between farmers and the pastoralists, who feel deprived of land to graze their herds. They have the right to graze in the area, but it is subject to negotiation with landowners.
"We can't let our animals die, yet there are plenty of pastures and water in these farms," said Ekidor. "When hungry, the cows leave the manyattas (the pastoralists' homesteads) in the middle of the night. We find them in other people's farms in the morning."
With little pasture, difficult access to water, and long distances to travel - sometimes across farmers' land to reach grass or water - herder's work becoming more labour-intensive.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Improved multilayer hermetic grain storage technology launched in Nyahururu

By Bob Aston
November 18, 2015 Laikipia County achieved a key milestone as A to Z group in collaboration with Cereal Growers Association (CGA) and Laikipia County Government launched AgroZ bag at Thompson Falls Lodge in Nyahururu.
Mr. Bhubhinder during the launch of AgroZ bag

Laikipia County Agriculture Director Mrs. Elizabeth Mwangi and Laikipia West Sub County Agriculture officer graced the launch. 

Others included Ward Agriculture officers drawn from the six wards of Laikipia West Sub County, Laikipia Maize Value Chain Development Network, Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN), and farmer representatives.
Speaking during the launch, AgroZ Group Marketing and Sales Manager Mr. Bhubhinder Singh noted that Post-harvest losses of grains and pulses are extensive and a major threat to food security in the Country.
He said that the hermetic bags kills insects and preserves farm produce for three seasons. He noted that the water-resistant and gastight storage solution is ideal for grains and pulses like maize, dry beans, peas, rice, sorghum, millet, soybeans, seeds, wheat, cocoa, and coffee.
He noted that bag has an inner multilayer polyethylene (PE) liner of five barrier layers and an outer woven polypropylene (PP) raffia sack.
“The hermetic bag can store commodities for a long period of over a year without the risks of moisture gain or loss, insect pest infestation and fungal growth,” said Mr. Bhubhinder.
He added that bag deprives insects of oxygen that kills them and stops mold growth, preventing food losses and aflatoxin contamination.
AgroZ staff showing farmers how to tie the bag
Other benefits of the AgroZ bag include prevents post-harvest losses from insect pests, no fumigation or chemical application required, effective against all insect storage pests, reusable for up to 3 seasons, and no loss of weight during storage.
He said that farmers have to ensure that the inner liner is not holed or damaged when acquiring it or before use.  
During storage, it is advisable to remove all air pockets from the top of the grain then twisting the remaining part of the inner liner and after that bending it using the provided smooth tie.
The final step is to close the outer polypropylene (PP) bag and store in a dry cool place for at least one month before opening it in order to ensure suffocation of any insects introduced in the grain.
“The eco-friendly and pesticide-free hermetic storage bag preserves the quality and germination capacity of stored grains. It is ideal in preventing aflatoxin accumulation during storage,” said Mr. Bhubhinder.
He noted that the bags would help farmers reduce the high cost of chemicals used in preserving cereals. Transglobal Distributors Ltd. is distributing the AgroZ bag. Each is retailing at Kshs 250.

Vernacular radio plays a crucial role in building the resilience of rural communities

By Esther G. Lung’ahi, BRACED
Vernacular radio stations are ones, which broadcast in local languages. These stations are critical in disseminating climate information, which can help people make informed decisions about climate change interventions.
For communities living in arid and semi-arid environments, their livelihoods are particularly vulnerable due to frequent exposure to climate change impacts. Thus, these communities especially need access to climate information and support services to build their adaptive capacity – and they can best understand it in their own language.
“Wajir community radio is a very useful tool for communication. Their main broadcasting language is Somali, which is very convenient for us listeners. We can easily get on air, making our views and plights to be heard. It’s an eye opener for Wajir County people”, says Mr. Abdullahi Farah Matan, a listener and a fan of Wajir community radio.
Radio remains the most powerful, most accessible and the most affordable medium for reaching large numbers of people in isolated areas. Even the remotest villages have access to vernacular radio, which builds on the oral tradition of rural populations.
Radio Savane in Burkina Faso has been hosting climate change discussions/K. Werntz
This is why Mercy Corps Kenya is working with partners in Wajir Kenya and Karamoja Uganda to use vernacular radio to increase awareness on climate change and help people build resilience to its impacts.
Wajir and Karamoja are drought prone areas, therefore, there is the need to strengthen early warning preparedness, contingency and response systems for the regions. 

Since these communities are largely pastoral and rely on oral communication, radio is the best medium for communicating messages in a largely patriarchal society. It also has a wide appeal among the elderly and the illiterate who do not have the advantage of reading and writing.

In addition to climate change information and advisories, the radio shows host discussions. Aired on Wajir community radio and Nana FM, the discussions are a a platform for pastoralists, farmers, technical advisors, policy makers and journalists to voice their opinion and flesh out climate change issues.
The discussions are moderated by a radio presenter to ensure callers remain on the topic of discussion and prevent any possible offensive messages.
The target audience is mainly influential men and women in the community who reinforce traditional gender norms. The radio talk show also hopes to reach religious voices particularly among the leaders.
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