Saturday, 28 January 2012

Nutrition management of stress in Kenya

Stress is the most common cause of sickness worldwide today among the youth, and the population at large causing unspeakable suffering, use of huge amounts of money in medical bills and loss of numerous working days. Stress refers to non specific response of the body to any demand or strain made upon it.The aim of stress management is to help the individual become more resilient and able to cope rather than to take away the stressful life events. A well balanced diet is crucial in promoting health and stress relief. Vigilance is required when making food choices for stress management which should be as natural as possible, as there is a lot of junk food posing as health food for stress relief in the market. Junk food is stress causing!
Foods to eat for stress relief
Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates in stress management triggers release of the brain neurotransmitter serotonin which has soothing effect. Good sources of carbohydrates include rice, potatoes, green bananas, bread, air-popped popcorn etc
Fresh fruits and vegetables: Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables in order to improve absorption of the amino acid L-Tryptophan, which causes the body to release serotonin making you feel good and relaxed as a result of stress relief.
Protein: Include sufficient protein food in your daily diet for effective stress management. Consuming adequate protein stabilizes blood sugar and prevents emotional swings and fatigue leading to stress relief. Good protein sources include meat, mushrooms, nuts, hard boiled eggs, Tofu and other soy products, dairy, beans.
Fiber: Stress causes stomach cramps and constipation. You require at least 25 grams of fiber daily to keep your digestive system working well during stress management for effective stress relief. Vegetables, fruits and whole grains are natural sources of fiber and are good for stress relief. Eat whole fruits instead of juice and whole-grain instead of processed grain for better stress management.
Unsaturated fats: Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) like Omega 3’s are great for stress management as they can prevent and relief anxiety and depression. Good food sources of EFAs include salmon, tuna, sardines, Fish oil pills, and walnuts. Cook your food with a small amount of oil daily to supply EFAs for stress relief.
Water: Take 2 litres of water daily for good health, stress management and stress relief.

Foods to avoid for good health
Saturated fats: Consumption of foods rich in saturated fats cause obesity and put unnecessary stress on the cardiovascular system. A high fat diet is believed to contribute various cancers.
Sugar: Sugar has no essential nutrients and only provides a short-term boost of energy resulting in exhaustion of the adrenal glands which can lead to irritability, poor concentration and depression.
Caffeine: This is found in coffee, tea, and chocolate. It causes the release of adrenaline undermining stress relief. There is a link between caffeine intake, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. Reduce the consumption of caffeine gradually during stress management to avoid developing withdrawal symptoms.
Alcoholic drinks: Alcohol is a major cause of stress; unfortunately most people take to drinking alcohol for stress relief. This undermines stress management as Alcohol stimulates the secretion of adrenaline leading to nervous tension, irritability and insomnia. Alcohol also impairs the ability of the liver to detoxify the body, while several toxins are produced during stress counteracting stress relief.
Smoke: Many people turn to cigarettes for stress management which seem to work in the short term but are harmful in the long run. Cigarette smoking is said to be responsible for a variety of cancers.
Salt: Excess sodium increases the blood pressure, exhausts adrenal glands, and causes emotional instability. Use potassium rather than sodium salt and avoid junk foods which are high in salt.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Lucrative strawberries farming in Kenya

Strawberry Farming Manual For sale
Chandler Strawberry Variety

Strawberry gardening is a multi-billion dollar business around the world.The fruit is a high value crop in Kenya for export and local market. Strawberries are very juicy health-packed fruits which can be eaten whole, made into fruit salads , jam,Milk shake and smoothie juice. Gardening of strawberries by farmers  in Central Kenya region has traditionally been for export to Europe. However an equally lucrative market for the strawberry leaves which used to be thrown away is likely to emerge .

Beautiful Fresh  Strawberry Leaves
Potted Strawberry plant
There is potential for the leaves to be bought by decorating  florist firms in the major towns around the country. According to a florist from Nairobi the demand for bouquets, which was formerly limited to offices, churches and events, is now expanding to individuals, with demand for home flowers and decorations growing in the recent past. This is causing the  demand for the strawberry leaves, which are an important component of the bouquets due to their beautiful shape . Strawberries’ gardening is  a golden opportunity particularly for the youth in Kenya for self employment and livelihood improvement . Strawberries are easy to grow, require minimal land and thrive well in a wide range of temperatures ranging from mild to hot. Basic requirements for strawberry gardening include, water, compost or farm yard manure, garden shears, garden spades, Garden Trowels, Planting material, Rot tillers and Shovels ,recommended pesticides and fungicides, produce packaging materials and capital.Strawberry varieties suitable for growing in Kenya include Chandler, Douglas(Two most popular varieties),  Tioga selva,Tristar, Domanil, Rabunda,pajaro and Tribute.The crop grows well in warm to hot climate and does not tolerate freezing. Some main diseases affecting the crop include Fusarium Oxysponium, Botrytis and Fusarium Wilt.
Strawberry Grown in Bags

Avoid growing strawberry on land where the following crops were planted the previous season, due to susceptibility to Verticillium wilt a viral disease controlled through crop rotation only.
Tomatoes, capsicums, Eggplant/brinjals, okra

Strawberries gardening starts with thorough land preparation in order to raise a vigorous crop. A bed raised to 15cm with a width of 1metre by any convenient length should be prepared, and well decomposed manure incorporated into the soil at a rate of one medium bucket per square metre. Then planting holes are made at a spacing of 30cm from row to row and 30cm from plant to plant. In strawberries gardening propagation is done using vegetative material namely splits of the strawberries crown. Planting is done after thorough watering of the bed and  the roots be are well covered but not too deep so as to prevent rotting of the stem.  Mulching is a recommended post planting management practice in strawberries gardening in order to conserve moisture, control weeds and keep strawberries clean. Irrigate daily in the afternoon during the first month after planting for good crop establishment and 2-3 times a week from the second month of gardening onwards.De-blossoming and removal of strawberry flowers is recommended for the first 2 months to avoid premature fruiting, which may lead to stunting and poor development of the crop.

Harvesting of strawberry fruits starts 2½months -3months after planting. Thinning to 2- 3 splits per crown should be done every 7 months to allow rejuvenation and increase strawberry yields. Runners and old leaves are removed in strawberries gardening in a practice called pruning or stripping.  Flowering is continuous with adequate watering with a pause in the cold season.The lifespan of the crop is 3 years.During the gardening period foliar feeds may be applied to boost the yields. Rooting media or enzymes which include plantone, Anatone1, Anatone( a broad spectrum for roots, flower stimulation and fruit retention) may enhance strawberry plant establishment. Tie the top end of the cuttings, then dip strawberries cuttings into the enzyme solution  for 42 hrs. Put fertile soil into plastic bags and plant the cuttings ensuring two nodes are below the soil level, then water frequently.Seeking knowledge on gardening  of strawberries is a necessary step during the planning period. Information on strawberry gardening is required for all serious visionary agribusinesses, as a mistake made cannot be corrected before 3 years are over . Strawberry cultivation is an expanding industry in Kenya with  great potential for growth.  

Our Products and Services 

We offer the following products and services at affordable fees.

  1. Agribusiness plans preparation
  2. Agribusiness information e-manuals

An Agribusiness Plan is the road-map to success in any farming business. An Agribusiness Plan preparation is therefore crucial for success of any farming business. This is the document which will support your agribusiness to grow, seek funding from financial institutions , and monitor performance over a period of time for continuous improvement. Agribusiness plan is a management tool which will help you to avoid expensive mistakes in your farming business. FAILURE TO PLAN IS PLANNING TO FAIL. MAKE SURE YOU PREPARE AN AGRIBUSINESS PLAN BEFORE STARTING YOUR FARMING BUSINESS.The other important milestone is to get the right technical information.
a)       Watermelon farming e-manual 
c)       Passion fruit farming e-manual
d)      Strawberry farming e-manual
g)      Tomatoes farming e-manual
h)      Capsicum farming e-manual
i)       Greenhouse farming e-manual
j)       Oyster mushroom Farming e-manual
k)      Tissue culture Bananas farming e-manual
l)       Upland arrowroot, Cassava, Sweet potatoes and yams e-manual
m)    Poultry Broilers, layers and improved indigenous/ Kienyeji e-manual
n)    Value addition and Agro-processing e-manual:The e-manual contains Manufacture of Fruit juices, yogurt, Fruit Jam, Small scale ice-cream making ,Tomato sauce processing, bread baking & cakes baking, cake decoration, vegetable solar drying,  Banana crisps and flour processing, cassava fermenting and flour processing, Soya milk and peanut butter processing.    

Email for more information

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Text Message Services Improve Agriculture in Kenya

Lack of reliable market information is one of the major factors that prevent farmers from getting the full market value for their farm produce. Small-scale farmers in Kenya and most African countries traditionally lack timely information, on market trends and market prices to enable them negotiate the best transactions. Unfortunately, lack of access to market information creates an opportunity for farmer’s exploitation by the middlemen. Today farmers in kenya have a reason to smile as this situation is changing, with development of text messages service innovations for the farming industry. An example is Kenya’s SMS Sokoni project, which provides agricultural information through short text messaging for fee. The project is run by the Kenya Agricultural Commodities Exchange (KACE), a private firm, in partnership with African mobile service provider Safaricom Limited. KACE information centers are located near agricultural commodity markets to ensure low cost access to farmers. KACE workers collect information on prices from these centers and then send the information to the farmers, buyers and exporters through SMS.

SMS sokoni text messages project’s partnership with a mobile service provider has allowed wider coverage of the service. This has also helped to reduce the cost of text messages. Sokoni SMS text messaging service is popular among farmers, buyers and exporters. The entry costs and unit costs for the users are quite low as a result of subsidy from donors. SMS sokoni text messages service users get value for their fees and their earnings have doubled or even triple according to research, because of access to timely text message market information. However there is a major challenge ahead of sokoni SMS text messages service in that it may not be sustainable with the pull out of donor funds, as most of the farmers live below the poverty line, and they may not afford the full pay for the text messages information service. 
M-Farm  is also a farmers text messages service from MFarm Ltd. Kenyan farmers simply SMS the service number to get information concerning the retail price of their products, buy farm inputs directly from manufacturers at favorable prices, and find buyers for their produce.
Drumnet is yet another text messages service which has been in operation in central Kenya on pilot basis. DrumNet provides marketing, financial and information services to farmers through text messages. This service is still developing more products for enhancement of agriculture industry.

Other African countries have various agriculture information systems, like the word of mouth system employed in Cambodia for information flow between agriculture value chain players. However, a study conducted by Michael Roberts in 2006 realized that such information may be prejudiced, since the source of information is interested in the transaction. Therefore the users require confirmation of the credibility of the information through physical visits to markets or with neighbors. However, Cambodia-Canada Agricultural Market Information Project (CAMIP) initiative is presently operational in Cambodia. CAMIP project is a unique text messages service which also trains farmers to improve their capacity to use the information, through Farmer Marketing Schools (FMS).

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Mushroom farming: A Rescue for cash strapped young entrepreneurs in Kenya

Mushroom growing is among the most profitable farming businesses in Kenya today. Mushrooms are a delicacy and a health food which is low in calories, high in vegetable protein, chitin, iron, zinc, fiber, essential amino acids vitamins and minerals.

Mushroom farming is a cheap source of income that generates returns in a very short period. Mushrooms give high returns on initial investments. The requirements to start the business are Spawn or the seed, a room, Substrate or the soil substitute. Mushroom growing requires very little capital to start and with KSH30, 000, one can grow oyster mushrooms according to mushroom growing expert.Button Variety's investment requirements are higher with matching returns. The incubation period for mushroom mycelium is one month and the harvesting period is three months. A room with 3 x 3 meter dimensions can hold 1000 mushroom sets on small polythene bags.

Each bag can produces at least 400 grams of mushrooms. A kilogram of oyster mushrooms sold locally costs KSH 400. If 1000 bags each yield 400 grams and a kilogram of mushrooms sells for Sh400 the total revenue will be Sh160, 000, minus packaging costs of Sh40 a pack.

Contrary to other farm enterprises, land is not a requirement in mushroom growing. Moreover the demand for mushrooms in Kenya is far much greater than the supply. The country imports additional product from China in order to satisfy the market demand. This means there is a big growth potential in mushroom growing. The uptake of mushroom growing by the farmers is slow due to scarcity of spawns, making the product expensive.

Oyster and shiitake mushroom varieties are recommended for beginners in mushroom growing. They have a ready market in Kenya and can grow in many substrates, on small scale with moderate investment. Oyster and button varieties are rich in nutrients while Shitake and Reishi have medicinal properties. You will need training on how to prepare substrates for mushroom growing and your agricultural advisor comes in hardy. Alternatively, you can purchase ready made sterilized substrate from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology situated at Juja, 36 km northeast of Nairobi, along Thika Nairobi -Superhighway. Moi University at Chepkoilel Kenya sells hybrid mushroom spawns.

Fresh mushrooms make delicious stews which are taken with staple foods as an alternative to meat. Mushrooms can be value added by making mushroom-based porridge flour that is gradually gaining acceptance in the market. Mushrooms can also be made into beverages like reishi coffee and tea. These are beverages based on the reishi mushroom which is known to be medicinal. Stakeholders in the mushroom commodity value chain have formed the Kenya mushroom growers association with an objective of strengthening the value chain, and linking the growers with the market and spawn producers, as well as to one another. This will help to develop thriving business environment that continues to attract more members into mushroom growing. Horticultural Crops Development Authority has stepped up mushroom consumer awareness for a shift in feeding habits because farmers need to be assured of the market.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Farm business Accounting and ICT

Farming business accounting refers to recording, reporting and analyzing of financial transactions. Farming business accounting involves maintaining records of cash incomes, short term cash expenditure, long term capital expenditure and debt repayment for management of agriculture enterprises. Farming business Accounting Software packages which also provide extra information on management are available today, for use by innovative farming business people, particularly youth in agriculture as a result of technological advances.

1) Cash register: This is the book where all the farming business financial transactions that have taken place during the year are recorded. It also reflects cash balance after all the annual expenditure is deducted at the end of the year. Small holders can employ income and expenditure records to determine, cost of production, budgets for the next year, enterprise analysis, Farming business analysis and determination of taxes. An example of a cash register is shown below:-

Farm Cash Register as at 31st December 2011
Starting capital
Sale of 350chicken
Sale of bulb onions
Sale of 5 goats

Farm implements
Purchase of  4 acres of land
Onion seeds
Broiler chicks

Farmers balance as at 31st December 2011 is 329,500 (1,729,500-1,400,000)

2) Ledger Book
The ledger book is reconciled at the end of every year during stock taking. The farmer records all the farm assets, liabilities and their values in order to indicate the total worth of the farm at the end of the year. Ledger accounts are essential in a farming business for the purpose of showing the value of:-
  • Creditors
  • Debtors
  • Produce and livestock end of year account
  • Land
  • Buildings
  • Implements and tools
  • Personal capital
3) Farm Trading Profit and loss Account
This accounts record helps agriculture business owners to find out the profit or loss incurred within the accounting season or year.