By Noah Lusaka and Bob Aston
Rahab Githumbi, an innovative poultry farmer from Kahuruko in Sipili, Laikipia West Sub County was last week recognized by Food Tank among 17 heroes from around the world, working for innovation, sustainability, the environment, and local economy, and doing more than putting food on our plates.
Her work shows that she goes beyond cultivating the land, acting as employers, experimenters, keepers of tradition, and contributors to healthy lifestyles. In her village, she earned the nickname “Mama Turkey” because of her success in rearing chickens and turkeys together.
|Rahab Githumbi being interviewed during EAFIF in Nairobi in 2013|
According to Food Tank, farmers are not just food producers. They are businesspersons, they are teachers in their communities, they are innovators and inventors, and they are stewards of the land who deserve recognition for the ecosystem services they provide that benefit everyone.
Food Tank features innovative ideas that are already working on the ground. Such innovations need more attention, more research, and funding to enhance replication.
Mama Turkey was motivated in 2004 to start production and nurturing of turkeys during a farmer- to – farmer exchange visit organized by the Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) through Ng’arua Maarifa Centre.
She is now an expert in production and nurturing turkeys and chicken for the local market. She distinctively discovered that the two birds have a great mutual benefit to each other. She started by buying two poults one female and a male turkey to join her backyard chickens.
During a three year period, she had experimented a lot and made observations in managing a mix of both chicken and turkeys focusing on brooding, hatching and tending of the young chicks and their feeding patterns. She found that raising turkeys and local chickens together increased her chicken egg-hatching rate from 70 to nearly 100 percent because the female turkey brooded the eggs.
Due to her success in this venture, ALIN profiled her as an innovator and nominated her to participate at the Eastern Africa Farmer Innovation Fair (EAFIF) in 2013. The innovation fair brought together farmer innovators from Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania.
The Promoting Local Innovation (PROLINNOVA)- Kenya hosted the event which sought to raise awareness and share information about how smallholder farmers are innovating, to encourage innovation, to disseminate smallholder farmers innovations, to identify and draw attention to more endogenous innovations that are currently known as well as to influence policy to promote smallholder farmer innovation.
Food Tank believes that as much as we need new thinking on global food system issues, we also need new doing. Around the world, people and organizations have developed innovative, on-the-ground solutions to the most pressing issues in food and agriculture.
Sometimes it is amazing at some of the small things that people do not knowing that in the end they will have a global impact and recognition. The recognition of Rahab Githumbi among the 17 heroes globally just confirms the power of information sharing. Join ALIN in celebrating this noble achievement by Mama Turkey.