Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Getting the youths on board; a daunting task.

The Kenya agricultural shows are perennial events in every big towns in Kenya. They are events organized by the ministry of agriculture aimed at bringing together key players in the agricultural sector - manufactures, insurance service providers, extension service providers, banks and many others who are either directly or indirectly linked to the agricultural sector. This is to help farmers know who is who in the sector and where to get help for any agricultural problems. Farmers also get know their fellow farmers with success stories and market linkages to their farm products.
I am attending this years Mombasa Agricultural show and with regards to the title of this post, we have to unleash all the potential we have if we are to succeed. The turn out at the event who seem to be interested in the exhibition of the Ministry of Agriculture is largely comprised of the old people and the youths whom we are really striving to woe into farming are interested in leisure-related exhibition. I was flabbergasted at the crowd I saw at the exhibition desk of Kenya Breweries. If only this could be witnessed at the agricultural exhibition desk, I'd say we're nearing the promised land; land where the young energetic people use their energies to feed the land's people.
There is therefore need to still look at ways of making this farming business more interesting where terms like toiling will be history. We need to look at what interests the youths more then incorporate it into agriculture. For instance the exhibitions which are attracting youths are those that play trendy music, it would interesting to incorporate such an item between agricultural announcements so that for those who come to listen to the music end up getting the message all together. There is need to look look for more interesting things and incorporate them into the sector as a bait for catching the youths   

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The future of pastoralism in a changing climate; adopting to climate change

Joto Afrika is a series of printed briefings and online resources about adapting to climate change in sub-Saharan Africa. The series will help people understand the issues, constraints and opportunities that poor people
face in adapting to climate change and escaping poverty. More on this educative issue can be found here

ICTs and food security

“My people are perishing for lack of knowledge” goes a biblical verse. Today, the same is true and hence the need for concerted efforts to reverse the trend especially with regards to food security. Community information resource centers should be put in place.

These would help in providing information about different aspects of food production ranging from cultivation, crop management and harvesting, storage mechanisms all the way to marketing strategies. To many people, when you talk about food storage they think of different stuff – some see grass thatched granaries only when there exists different storage mechanism which are not known by the populace. I trust that community resource centers equipped with the necessary ICT gadgets and information officers can be of great help in demystifying some of these technologies.

African universities and other learning institutions should also adopt Web 2.0 technologies and use social media for teaching as they these institutions can reduce running costs, mobilise learning resources and expand research capacity with social media.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tackling food security problems from the roots

As we endeavor to tackle, food security problems, we need to understand food insecurity better and in all its manifestations. Where does it start from? Who are worst hit? In both cases, it all starts with the farmers. They are the first to be hit despite the fact that they're the ones producing for us the food we consume. So where is the problem? The fact that famine begins with the farmers and are the most hit and yet they are the ones producing food for us is quit ironical if not paradoxical it calls for immediate measures to find a solution.

In this regard, we should be looking at ways of enhancing their storage methods and facilities to minimize on wastage of harvests, discourage them from selling all their harvests and off course link them to markets for better prices.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Mobile apps for extension

There is a growing realization that many of the urgently needed reforms in addressing food security, market development, and climate change will only be effective if strong advisory institutions are in place to provide support to rural populations. Such may consist of all the different activities that provide the information and services needed and demanded by farmers and other actors in rural settings to assist them in developing their own technical, organizational, and management skills and practices so as to improve their livelihoods and well-being.
In this regard, courtesy of Apps4Africa Challenge, we can now talk about iCOW. A voice based mobile application that will help farmers to track the estrus stages of their cows helping them to manage their breeding as well as cow nutrition leading up to calving day. This is done via a series of voice prompts and SMS messages that will be sent to the farmer in the course of the 365 days cycle. What a way of providing extension services? With such innovations, we‘re going to take agricultural extension to the next level and make the sector more rewarding

Friday, August 19, 2011

Famine in Kenya

A Blog Competition for Youths in Agriculture

YoBloCo Awards: Write a blog on youth and agriculture and win up to 3,000 Euros!

Young bloggers interested in agriculture can enter a competition.
The Youth in Agriculture Blog Competition, sponsored by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation, aims to highlight successes and challenges faced by youth engaged in agriculture in both urban and rural areas.

The competition is open to young farmers, journalists and individuals from the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries. 

The blog submitted can be a newly created one, or one that already exists but which has been recently updated with content related to agriculture. Posts must be in French or English. Click here to see how to enter

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Why youths are giving farming a wide bath

The youths and by extension an Average adult Kenyan do not want to take farming as means of livelihood, it’s an income given other alternatives. Farming is left to the aged. This is due to the attitude among the people. From a tender age, children are brought up with negative attitude towards farming. When I was in school, one frequently asked question by teachers in my formative age was...'what would you like to be when you grow up?' Many of us would want to grow up to be Doctors, Pilots, Engineers and a host of other professions just name them, but non of us wanted to be a farmer. Our teachers would similarly talk proudly of these other professions as an indicator for success in life and good performance in school was measured against subjects that would lead to these careers. Agriculture was given a wide bath.

Today in Kenya, being a farmer is an indication of one being unemployed, underprivileged and economically ‘malnourished’. During the population census, unemployed and those who are less endowed financially preferred to say they are farmers in order to avoid searching questions and security officials associating them with criminal acts in the village. Agriculture is seen as synonymous to poverty. How do we get these youngsters in the photo adoring farming given the poverty they're living in? 

Now what does this portend for the youth? When you look at agriculture in last two or so decades, Farmers have been relegated to abject poverty; many agricultural sectors have performed poorly; sectors such as the pyrethrum sector, dairy, coffee, poultry and many other sectors have collapsed. Farmers are deprived of their earnings from the produce delivered or their earnings are meager. Their children were sent out of school and some would never come back. Does this bring the youth closer to Agriculture? The government needs to review its policies in agriculture and this is evident from the current crisis in the sector.

Revival of moribund co-operations such as KCC, Kenya Meat Commission among others, opening up market linkages, good prices for the farmers and enhancement of strategic information dissemination should be rethought. Though agriculture is optional in high schools, it provides a leeway to the few with cultivable interest in farming. The use of 4K clubs could be useful too. This among other factors would lead to a dramatic change in attitude change - if adult Kenyans would be proud to be associated to farming. Why not the youth?

An interview with Ruth

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

$80 Android Phone Sells Like Hotcakes in Kenya, the World Next?

Opportunities!! Content Development in IT

This' an opportunity for the youths to develop apps for agricultural content.

This Community Grants Programme is open to the creativity and imagination of the Internet Society Community. The only parameters of the Program are the Criteria. The selection Committee favours Projects that strengthen and support the health of the Internet as well as Projects that further support Internet Society's mission, goals, and Strategic Initiatives. In an attempt to address some applicants' difficulty in finding focus for project ideas, the Internet Society provides specific Focus Areas that directly or indirectly address key ISOC strategic goals. The current, preferred Focus Areas for project applications are:
·         IPv6
·         Local content creation (encouraging demand for and use of the Internet for a specific community)
·         Encouraging the multi-stakeholder approach to technical and policy issues
·         Interconnection and traffic exchange

The United Nations International Telecommunications Union (ITU) today invited young innovators in digital and other fields to enter a global competition in which 60 winners will be invited to Geneva in October to pitch their novel ideas at a leading forum.
Three entrants from each of two categories judged to have the best all-round concepts by an online vote of delegates attending the 24-27 October ITU Telecom World 2011, an event attended by governments, industry leaders and regulators, will share prize money totalling over 50,000 Swiss francs (about $65,570) to help them realize their dreams.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

How to Beat Hunger

Hunger problems

If asked, I’d say the problems we are facing now with hunger and other issues related to agriculture and development are man made and deliberate. Drought and poor soils should not be an excuse. In his right wisdom, God gave the Israelites land in the middle of a desert in the name of land flowing with milk and honey. From Egypt, God could have chosen to take the Jews to the fertile lands of Ethiopia, Kenya or even the rainy forests of Congo but I suppose milk and honey is not in the fertile lands, they are all in the head.  Israel produces enough food for its people and more for export -it is even feeding Kenyans.
Indigenous knowledge
Instead of blaming nature, the Kenyan government should rejuvenate the Arid and semi Arid Land Resource Management (Asal) Projects and then invest in educating the communities on sustainable farming practices that are viable there. The youths should be involved instead of moving to the cities for greener pastures –they form the greatest human resource.

There’s need to intertwine the indigenous technology and modern technology. The locals have their own systems on how to forecast on the looming drought and how to tackle it. These should be embraced as they have been there since the times of our forefathers.
We should also get out of the rain fed agriculture and promote irrigation. Rain water harvesting should be encouraged, build dams, dig wells and maintain them to try and beat famine.

Youths working hard
To move forward, we must; be ready to serve the community whenever called upon; promote leadership at any given level; use technology to tackle famine and other emerging issues related to drought; have disaster arresting and mitigation mechanism in place to avert crisis; never sell every food supplies store – have some for emergency and finally; harvesting of rain water in Arid areas is panacea to solving food crisis.  

Monday, August 15, 2011

Agriculture; green gold??

At first people refuse to believe that a strange new thing can be done, then they see it can be done, then it’s done and all the world start to wonder why it was not done long ago; this was the scenario a few years ago when mobile phones were a reserve of the top cream in Kenya. Starting up a cell phone shop was seen as a waste of money as there were no many people buying mobile phones either. A few individuals who ventured into this business started reaping heavily from it and before everybody else realized and started flocking into it, they were millionaires and out looking for other business ventures.
Using technology to increase yields

About the current food crisis is in Kenya, I would say is deliberate and agriculturalists in this country are sleeping on huge reserves of undiscovered green gold. The crisis shows how important this sector is and so contrary to the view by youths that agriculture is dirty and less rewarding, investing in this sector is worth.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Using ICTs in Agriculture

A story of an African woman working in the agricultural sector, who has used ICTs in her professional businesses”
By Hudson Wereh

Somehow, despite all our hopes, dreams and efforts, life becomes a train wreck. We may or may not have had an inkling of the impeding doom. Perhaps we were in denial or maybe completely oblivious of what was swirling around just out of sight. We may have seen it coming but did not realize its speed or hoped against hope it wouldn’t happen. But here we are, we can’t undo the mess or change a few details to lessen the severity of the impacts. Somehow though, we need to move on, but how? Regarding the Kenya’s infamous 2007-8 post election violence in Kenya,

Monday, August 8, 2011

Transforming Lives Of The Youths: Growing your own vegetables without a"shamba"

Transforming Lives Of The Youths: Growing your own vegetables without a"shamba": "Food insecurity is a problem of global concerns but solutions lie within our borders; imagine if each one of us staying in urban areas or j..."

Growing your own vegetables without a"shamba"

Food insecurity is a problem of global concerns but solutions lie within our borders; imagine if each one of us staying in urban areas or just everybody without a plot for farming had a portable garden? This could go a long way not only reducing the problem of food security but also empowering people economically. With the current five shillings per piece price of tomatoes, imagine how much the owner of this garden could fetch.
You can learn how to do it from this video we did locally.

Makin a portable kitchen garden

Sunday, August 7, 2011

ICTs improving youth opportunities in rural areas

Kamau communicating with his customers

I simply take my mobile phone, notify my customers on available vegetables via SMS and there I go, orders start streaming in.” Said Kamau.
What an easy way of selling your agricultural produce?

Friday, August 5, 2011

A great opportunity for the youths:Grant for web and mobile phone applications open from July 21, Close Aug 22 2011

The Kenyan government, through the Kenya ICT Board is now accepting proposals for the Tandaa Digital Content Grant. The grant is offered to Kenyan citizens and companies registered in Kenya for the development of innovative web or mobile phone applications. Grants of up to $ 50,000 for companies and $ 10,000 for individuals and teams will be offered through the program.
There is volumes and volumes of data both with the government and the private sector on agriculture. This' an opportunity you can't miss, grab this opportunity and make apps that are going to use this data that is available. For instances you can make one that will help farmers access information on all crop diseases - the data is there with the ministry of Agriculture. Lets use this opportunity to emancipate ourselves from the chains of unemployment while improving on our agricultural extension.