Wednesday, 29 February 2012

‘Moringa oleifera’ The wonder Agro-forestry vegetable tree in Kenya

                                       
Moringa agroforestry is increasingly being adopted by farmers in Kenya particularly in Mombasa, Kilifi, Baringo and Laikipia. This is an excellent food security solution as moringa is in full leaf by the end of dry seasons.The  plant   is easily propagated and recommended for homesteads for its food value. The leaves are nutritious vegetables, Flowers are a delicacy, eaten cooked and taste like mushrooms.Immature green pods are used like French beans and are quite popular. Mature ponds are eaten like peas or roasted like nuts. The seeds produce clear, odorless edible oil that resists rancidity. The seedcake that remains after oil extraction is used as a fertilizer or water purifier.  The roots are used as a condiment seasoning. Moringa agroforestry tree is becoming the most sought after vegetable tree due to its numerous medicinal and nutritional benefits.

Moringa oleifera originated from India and spread to the tropical and sub-tropical regions of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Moringa oleifera agroforestry trees are very easy to grow, and they are propagated from seeds or cuttings. They grow very fast in a wide range of soils;They perform well even in poor soils, arid and semi-arid harsh climates. Flowering occurs only 8 months after planting.
In Kenya Moringa agroforestry tree products are sold by dealers in tropical medicine, including Jomo Kenyatta University of agriculture and technology. The products are scarce and in high demand. Therefore Moringa nurseries and farm forestry are excellent business opportunities in Kenya and other African countries. Moringa agroforestry tree nursery establishment is simple. Follow the directions below for Moringa propagation:-
  • Make a soil mixture with 1:3 ratio of soil to sand.
  • Fill poly tubes with the soil sand mixture.
  • Plant 2-3 seeds per poly tube at a planting depth of about 2.5 cm.
  • Water regularly but avoid excess moisture.
  • Germination will take about 14 days.
  • Thin to leave one vigorously growing seedling in every tube.
  • Continue watering regularly to ensure enough moisture to facilitate growth.
  • Seedlings will take 4-6 months in the nursery.
  • Transplant or sell after 4-6 months when seedlings are 60-90 cm in height.
 

Monday, 27 February 2012

USAID’S “YES YOUTH CAN”Development Program ahead of 2013 general elections in Kenya

YES YOUTH CAN development program is a USAID supported 3-year post election recovery programme for young Kenyans covering six regions; Western, Nyanza, Rift Valley, Central, Nairobi and Coast.  The implementation of the young peoples’ program is by Mercy Corps Kenya and the projects aims to Harness active participation of young Kenyans in the countries economic development, social development and policy development. In addition this program will instill, a positive attitude towards life issues, relevant life and economic skills, self-esteem, accountability and dependability among the young people. In 2008, Kenya had a highly ethicized election that prompted political and ethnic violence which led to 1,100 deaths and over, 300,000 internally displaced people. There was also enormous damage to property and the countries economy. Scores of hectares of cropland were destroyed in the rift valley province nicknamed “the granary of Kenya,’’ leading to reduction of agriculture activities and food insecurity in the subsequent years.

The majority of the people used by mischievous politicians to implement the mayhem were idle unemployed youths under the influence of drugs. Currently the fear of a repeat of this scenario is live in the air, among the young and elder Kenyans alike with the approaching Kenya 2012 general elections. This article is a wake up call for young people in agriculture to organize them-selves into groups which are being referred to as youth parliaments in the yes youth can program and undertake livelihood and community improvement projects. The youth parliaments require registration with the Ministry of Gender and Social Development in order to benefit from the youth empowerment program. In addition the parliaments need to sit and analyze their problems as a community and as young people. The youth parliament can then write a project proposal for solving livelihood /other problems for the young people or the community to Mercy Corps Kenya NGO for project support and capacity building.

This website is invaluable for the youth in agriculture projects as it gives vital information for realization of your dream, project identification, choice of agribusiness enterprises, modern agriculture production, Food processing for value addition and food security, income generation and self employment; agriculture value chain development for market linkages, farm accounting to ensure profitability, and environmental conservation for sustainable agriculture development. In addition you may contact us for services on agriculture project identification, Project proposal writing, agriculture extension and agriculture project implementation advice. Take advantage of our well calculated modern agriculture development projects, suitable for the youth due to their:-
·        Innovation and uniqueness
·        High returns on investment
·        Low cost of investment
·        Small or no land requirement
·        Short period for returns
·        Favorable profit margins
·        Ease of implementation
Time is now and the opportunity is here for the young generation in Kenya, to take lead in personal and community development projects in their respective home areas, for the future of our young nation is in their hands.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Vegetables preservation for income generation, food security & climate adaptation in Kenya

 Fresh vegetables are highly perishable and their drying is essential for increased shelf life and value addition; particularly in the face of frequent droughts and climate change in Kenya and globally.This can be accomplished by using solar driers in Africa.
               
CHART FOR VEGETABLES PRESERVATION  BY Solar  DRYING
Vegetables
Selection and preparation
Method of Treatment Before Drying
Treatment time in minutes
Test for dryness
during preservation
Cabbage
Remove outer leaves, quarter and core. Cut into shreds 3mm thick
Steam
5 to 6 ; until wilted
Tough to brittle
Carrots
Select crisp tender carrots Clean, cut off tops and roots. Cut into slices or strips about 3mm thick.
Steam
8 to 10
Tough to leathery
Potatoes
Peel, cut into strips 5mm in cross section or cut into slices 3mm thick
Rinse  in cold water; steam
4 to 6
Brittle
Green Vegetables
Select young tender leaves for preservation. Wash. Cut large leaves into pieces crosswise.
Steam
4 to 5; until wilted
Brittle
Banana
Wash, peel slice into strips 5mm thick
Steam
6
Tough ; brittle
Pumpkin
Chop into strips 2.5cm peel, remove fibre and seeds. Cut into strips 3mm thick
steam
Until tender
Tough ; brittle
Scallop, Zucchini or courgettes or summer/winter squash
Wash, trim and cut into 5mm slices
Steam
6
Brittle
Tomatoes for stewing
Dip in boiling water, chill in cold water, peel, cut into sections 15mm thick
No further treatment
10 to 20
Leathery
Green Peas
Select young tender peas, shell.
Steam immediately
10
Hard, wrinkled, shatters when hit.
Beans; green pods
Sort, wash, remove strings, and split pods lengthwise.
Steam or
Pressure cook
15 to 20
5
Brittle
Broccoli
Trim and cut as for serving. Wash, cut stalks into quarters lengthwise.
Steam
8 to 10
Brittle
Sweet corn
Select tender sweet corn. Husk steam on cob immediately 10 to 15 minutes or until milk is set. Detach grains from cob.
Steam; no further treatment required
30
Dry ; brittle
Beet roots
Select small tender beets. Wash; trim the tops leaving the crowns. steam , cool, trim off roots and crowns; peel, cut into shoestring  strips or slices 3mm thick
Steam as suggested before preservation
30 to 45
Tough; leathery
Onions
Remove outer discolored layers. Slice.
No treatment

Brittle, pale
Leaves for seasoning like; coriander, parsley and celery preservation.
Remove discolored leaves
wash for preservation
Till clean 
Brittle
Powdered vegetables: grind leafy vegetables into powder after preservation, for use in soups and puree
Soup mixtures: preservation by drying is done according to directions for individual vegetables. Mix and store satisfactory combinations which may be made from cabbage, carrots, celery, corn, onions and peas. However rice, dry beans, split peas and meat stock are added at the time of cooking.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Coriander gardening (Chinese parsley / Dania) in Kenya


Coriander gardening is a popular economic activity in Kenya and the plant has small leaves used as a fresh herb. Special Features of this plant are white Flowers, Attractive spicy leaves, pungent seeds, Pleasant fragrance, Attracts Birds, Attracts Butterflies, Deer Resistant and Easy gardening. Coriander gardening is also widely adopted in Africa trading the produce in the local urban markets for home consumption as a fresh herb. The tender foliage is used to season and flavor curries while its seeds are processed into mixed spices and curry powder. Coriander gardening is easy and the herb gives high returns on investment, in addition to taking a short time to mature. A small metres long and garden 35  1metre wide can give total revenue of KS h 15,000 within 45 days. Coriander gardening requirements are Soil, seeds, Water, Sun, knife, garden tools. This herb prefers mild warm to cool weather and well drained alluvial or light sandy loam soils, rich in organic matter. They perform well directly from seeds, as transplanting causes early flowering, and the seed rate is 15-25kg per hectare. 

The seeds are planted in drills 30cm apart for production of fresh herb and 50cm apart for coriander seeds production , and a sowing depth of 2.5-3.5cm.Emergence occurs about 10 days after sowing and thinning is recommended when plants are 5-7cm high to 10-15cm within the rows. Regular watering is required as the crop responds well to even distribution of moisture over the growing season particularly for production of green herb.Coriander responds well to application of well decomposed organic manure at a rate of 10 tons per hectare (one medium sized bucket per square metre) or NPK fertilizers at a rate of 100 kg per hectare. Coriander gardening faces few pest and diseases challenges and the major problems are fusarium wilt, powdery mildew and stem rot. These can be controlled mainly through seed dressing, field hygiene, crop rotation and use of disease free seeds. Spraying with broad-spectrum fungicides may be done only when necessary. Maturity takes place within 1months for the herb and 3 months for the seed. 4-5 cuts can be made during the growing season for green herb, giving an output of 7-10 tons per ha.

 If the aim of coriander gardening is to produce leaves the plants should be at least 10-15cm tall at harvesting time. Harvest the largest herbs first which should be cut to encourage growth of the smaller herbs for later harvesting. If the gardening targets seeds production, it could take about three months for the crop to be ready. When the flowers have dried, cut down the stems, then harvest and pile up the crop for a few days in the field to further ripen and dry before threshing. When the crop is grown to produce seeds the output is about1.2-1.7tons per Hectare depending on the variety. Coriander is ground at the point of use or at the retail market to avoid loss of volatile oils. Farmers  for more  http://yagrein.blogspot.com/p/what-are-youth-saying.html

Friday, 17 February 2012

Digital villages Project and agriculture development in Kenya

The government of Kenya is implementing a highly ambitious proposed public private partnership digital village’s (ICT) project. The project will transform Kenya’s economy into a knowledge based economy. The digital village’s project also referred to as the Pilot Pasha Centres endeavors to connect the most remote villages to information super- highway, by taking ICT facilities to the people in the rural Kenya, for sustainable economic and social development. The digital villages are mainly designed for the youth, business people who desire to expand their business opportunities, women and the community at large. Over 200 digital villages will be established in Kenya. The pilot pasha centres will provide photocopying Printing, faxing, scanning, e-mail and Internet, electronic banking and money transfer services, in addition to e-governance which will ensure  public access to government services such as national identification and Youth Enterprise Fund loan application forms,  Police abstracts, P3 forms and driver's license applications forms.

The set up of digital villages’ project will be in two models specifically the enterprise and community set-up. Individual entrepreneurs such as micro-finance institutions, small and medium size enterprises will run the enterprise model. The community model will be run by the youth, women and faith-based organizations. A digital village school will be established to serve as an ICT educational centre. Digital village schools will be established in every location. Young people will acquire ICT training in their home towns and will no longer waste meager resources traveling to Nairobi and other major towns in search of this knowledge. A digital kiosk will be a commercial enterprise to be established at constituency level, while a digital centre will be a development ICT facility to be established in very district.
 
Digital villages spell a bright future for the rural areas of Kenya where 80% of the people live engaged in agriculture as their main economic activity. The ICT users will connect with business associates and stakeholders via email, teleconferencing and social media. The youth will be able to watch documentaries on You tube and play games with their counterparts from all over the world. Time and resources saved through e-governance will result to increased farm productivity, food security and rural poverty reduction when channeled to farming activities. Moreover information on new agriculture technologies which is rotting in the research centres and public universities shelves will be disseminated faster, cheaply and easily to the farmers. Farmers will be able to access information on produce market prices, market trends and farm inputs. Farmers will also have an opportunity to develop useful collaborations with local and international agriculture value chain players and the sky is the limit. 

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Coffee fortunes lure Kenyan growers

Kenya produces some of the world's finest coffee due to a favorable climate, geographical and soil conditions. The demand and prices for the Arabica variety grown in Kenya has sharply increased both in the domestic and international markets, due to adverse weather conditions in some top world coffee producing countries. The Arabica variety is reputable and fetches good prices for its high quality as it is used for blending coffee from other countries in the world. Farmers are currently earning an average of Sh60 per kilogram of cherry delivered to the factory. One well managed tree can produce up to 38 Kilograms of cherry according to an agriculture extensionist. 

This means with only 50 trees you can harvest 1,900 kilograms of cherry and earn Sh114, 000 per year. What a fortune for Kenyan smallholder farmers from the cherry! Time is ripe for youth to get involved in coffee agribusiness, which no longer requires many acres of land to earn a decent income. According to the commodity value chain players, the prices are likely to remain high in the world market for quite some time. The Ministry of agriculture and Coffee Board of Kenya projections shows that coffee export earnings will rise by 7 per cent year in the year 2012. Cherry Growers have responded to improved global prices by increasing investment in existing farms as well replanting to take advantage of the high prices.

The Government of Kenya in collaboration with the industry stakeholders on the other hand are determined to restore the sector until it regains its position of 1980s, as the main foreign exchange earner in the country by 2015.Fresh efforts have been launched to improve farm practices, increase annual cherry output, improve quality and offer better prices and incentives to the farmers. Last year the Ministry of Finance announced a bailout plan to write off Sh3.7 billion in debts before the end of the financial year. New industries rules have been have been established by Coffee Board of Kenya which allows the   Cooperatives to retain only 20% earnings from net coffee sales and pass the remainder to the farmers. Coffee was the chief foreign exchange earner in Kenya in 1980s. This was disrupted when farmers abandoned the golden crop as a result of mismanagement of Cooperatives, high cost of inputs, free market economy and lowered international prices.

The collapse of the industry adversely affected the livelihoods of many rural people who depended on the crop to educate their children and invest. This increased poverty and school dropout rates in the rural areas. With the current improvement of international prices a new problem of cherry and parchment theft has emerged. Picking of the cherry from other peoples farms at night is rampant as well stealing of the parchment from the factories. Some observers have attributed the recent wave of thefts to the mischievous millers and roasters who want to cash in on the lucrative prices. Security officials in collaboration with the community are doing everything possible to stop the cherry and parchment theft menace. However Coffee cherry and parchment theft is not peculiar to Kenya but has been experienced in some of the world’s leading producing countries.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Tube Silage making technology for dairy feed security in Kenya

Dairy farming business in Kenya frequently suffers a set back every time there is a dry season due to lack of adequate fodder for dairy animals. Ironically the prices of milk are at their highest during the dry spells. This interferes with the profitability of dairy enterprise. However with a constant supply of silage, the dairy farmers can triple their income for the same period of milk production. Today this has been made possible by the use of tube silage making technology, which was introduced in the country by an American farmer’s cooperative called Land O’ Lakes, some years back and latter taken over by extension services. Currently this silage making technology has become popular than ever before as a result of climate change which has led to frequent fodder shortages.

The silage making technology is spreading at a high rate among the smallholder dairy farmers. On talking to a livestock extension expert he said the high demand of this tube silage making technology among the dairy farmers in central Kenya gives the livestock extension service providers no rest after the rains. Some innovative youths have identified the technology as a business opportunity, and are giving the service of making the tube silage for a fee. Tube silage making technology is simple, cost effective and ideal for smallholder dairy farmers. Tube silage making technology has two major advantages:-
  • The technology ensures constant milk production by the dairy cows throughout the year, due to a regular supply of dairy animal feeds, leading to good returns from the dairy enterprise.
  • The technology promotes conservation of excess fodder allowing harvesting at the optimum stage, preventing overgrown fodder and ensuring high quality fodder for the dairy cows at all times.Material requirements for the tube silage making technology includes:-
    Ø      Fodder – Napier, maize or sorghum can be used.
    Ø      Black polythene tubes, two and a half metres, gauge 1000.
    Ø      Mollasses-20 litres
    Ø      Chaff cutter or a machete
    Ø      Canvas
    Ø      Sack
    Ø      Medium sized bucket
    Ø      5 litres plastic container for mixing
    Ø      Watering can
    Ø      sisal twine
    Ø      water
    Ø      2 people to provide labour for application of the technology.  Make the silage in the store where it will remain until ready for use
Harvest the fodder and keep it for two days to wilt.
Chop the fodder into to 2.5cm length pieces.
Measure one bag of well compressed fodder (about 70kgs) and spread it on the canvas.
Mix 1 litre molasses with 3 litres of water and sprinkle the mixture over the fodder then mix thoroughly.
Pleat the black polythene tube lengthwise, tie firmly with the sisal twine at 30cm distance from the cut edge, fold back the edge and tie once again to exclude the air.
Turn the polythene bag inside out.
Roll down or fold back the top of the polythene bag.
Put into the polythene bag the mixture of fodder, molasses and water.
Compress the mixture firmly to exclude all the air. A man in clean gum boots can stand inside the bag and compress the fodder down thoroughly using the feet.
Repeat the  steps  until the polythene bag is full,  approximately  450kgs weight.Hold the top of the polythene bag firmly excluding the air.Tie the bag firmly with a sisal twine excluding the air in order to encourage the growth of fermentation bacteria.Place a weight at the top to exclude the air which if allowed will make the mixture to rot due to activity of rotting bacteria.

A bag of soil approximately of about 40kgs has been used successfully by farmers to weigh down the top.
Wait for 21 days for completion of the fermentation process before use. Temperatures of 40º-42º are recommended during the fermentation process and a silage thermometer can be used for measuring. The silage made using this technology is sweet smelling and brown when ready.
Mix the high quality silage with Napier or hay when feeding the dairy animals for maximum benefit.
The amount of fodder to be fed per dairy cow depends on milk production .This dairy industry technology has come at the right time to the right people.
More info-http://yagrein.blogspot.com/2013/11/dairy-farming-in-kenya-has-become.html

Friday, 10 February 2012

Compost manures for sustainable agriculture and food security in Kenya

Compost manure is decayed organic matter that’s normally used to improve soil fertility, reduce weeds and control soil erosion. Small-scale farmers in Kenya and the entire African continent can improve yields by up to 100% through combining fertilizer micro dosing and manures application. Compost making and sustainable agriculture are inseparable. Compost manure helps dry soil to absorb and retain more water, compacted soils to regain their elasticity and poor soils to bring forth abundant farm produce;  they provide your plants with nutrients which they require to grow to their full potential. Simple Compost making involves piling up recycled garden and kitchen waste outdoors, and waiting for the materials to decompose which takes 6-8 weeks. For Successful composting you will need organic matter, such as kitchen waste, leaves, grass trimmings and produce as well as water and air.

Pile up your carefully selected materials and keep the heap well-aerated and moisturized, so as to attract rotting bacteria and fungi, which will breakdown the organic materials into compost.The pile should be kept moist but not wet in order for the microbes to work effectively. As the microbes break down the organic material they give off a lot of heat. You will need to make sure that the pile temperatures do not exceed 42º C .High temperatures would kill the microbes and stop the process. The pile is normally warmer in the middle than on the outside. Turning the compost with a digging fork or a shovel will help the trapped heat to escape. Turn the organic matter pile to ensure the materials in the middle are brought to the outside and vice-versa. This aerates and cools the pile availing fresh air to the microbes. The microbes required for decomposition process requires air to live. Monitor the temperature of the compost heap regularly, keeping it moist and turning it as necessary. The finished compost should be ready after about three turns which takes about 7 weeks. Well made compost doesn't have any recognizable parent material when finished. The finished product is dark, rich, crumbly and sweet-smelling. However with some extra attention you can produce more compost in a short time of guaranteed quality.  The process of Modern commercial compost making is a step by step closely monitored process, with measured inputs of water, air, carbon and nitrogen rich materials. The decomposition process is quickened by chopping plant matter into small pieces, adding water and ensuring proper aeration by regularly turning of the mixture. Smaller size particles allow more surface area bacterial action leading to faster decomposition as waste is converted to riches for food security and sustainable agriculture. Manures today are in high and growing demand due to current trend of organic farming, and minimization of chemical fertilizers usage around the globe.

Today most agricultural soils are depleted and can hardly produce to their potential leading to practice of unsustainable agriculture. This has been caused by soil erosion and intensive cultivation practices. Soil fertility improvement and maintenance using manures like compost manure is therefore a requirement for sustainable agriculture development. Soil fertility can be defined as the measure of the capacity of the land to provide essential plant nutrients. Soil fertility management endeavors to achieve maximum profit and enhanced efficiency, while maintaining good environmental stewardship. Sustainable agriculture is the way forward for the developing countries with agricultural economies in Africa and globally, for poverty reduction and livelihood improvement. Sustainable agriculture as defined by FAO refers to farming that conserves land, environment, water, plant and animal genetic characteristics, in addition to being economically affordable and socially acceptable. Sustainable agriculture employs soil fertility management practices like compost manure application which enable the land resource to meet the needs of the current and the future generations.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Orange fleshed sweet potatoes growing for food security in kenya

Contrary to the name, sweet potatoes are not related to irish potatoes as the latter are members of the Solanaceae family, which also includes,tree tomatoes eggplant, tomatoes, capsicum, red pepper while sweet potatoes belong to the morning-glory family or Convolvulaceae. China is the world’s largest grower of sweet potatoes, providing about 80% of global supply. There are over 100 traditional and improved varieties of sweet potatoes and their flesh colors range from white, red and purple. However Orange Fleshed Sweet Potatoes whose popularity is increasing in in Kenya substantially higher than traditional varieties translating into higher income for the farmers. Likewise O F S P is rich in Beta-carotene a pre-cursor to vitamin A and it’s a great source if vitamin E, in addition to providing essential vitamins and minerals. Malnutrition due to deficiency of micro-nutrients in the diet, affects the health of over half the world's population. Vitamin A deficiency which is common leaves people susceptible to blindness and poor body immune system. Research has shown that Consumption of Orange Fleshed Sweet Potatoes effectively controls vitamin A deficiency. 

This is a practical long-term food-based approach particularly suitable in children who are most vulnerable to vitamin A deficiency. The roots are commonly eaten boiled or mashed. O F S P is developed by researchers through bio-fortification, a process of breeding staple food crops that are rich in bio-available nutrients. Sweet potatoes are relatively drought resistant and are therefore suitable for climate change adaptation in the current times Global warming.

This crop requires friable well drained soils, optimum, and temperatures of 12 º- 25°C and annual rainfall of 600-1600 mm during the growing season. Relatively dry weather favors formation of storage roots and development sweet potatoes.
Land should be prepared with an aim of loosening the compacted soil below, for achievement of a good tilth .This facilitates making of planting hills or ridges, to avoid obstruction during root development.
Farm yard manure has been found to give a good response in sweet potatoes and it should be spread over the bed just before ridging or mounding is done. However in very poor soils a farmer can apply compound fertilizer like 17:17:17 at a 100 Kg per Ha in two splits, one at planting and the other after 2 weeks during first weeding.
Sowing should be done at the beginning of the rains for a rain fed crop. Disease free vines of about 30cm in length are planted on hills or ridges, at a spacing of 1metre from row to row and 30cm from one vine to the other. Bury 2/3 of the vine at a planting depth of 4-6cm.
The 1st weeding must be done within 2 weeks after planting. The second weeding should come up two weeks after the first during earthing up.
Pests:
Sweet potato weevil is the most significant pest in sweet potatoes production, and its attacks are characterized by thickening and cracking of the vines due to feeding by the adult weevil while larvae bores into the tuber leaving holes. This leads to a bitter taste.
Control: Integrated pest management is recommended, as the follows:- 
·        Crop rotation 
·        Use of clean planting material, deep planting and regular earthing up to fill soil cracks around plants 
·        Early planting and prompt harvesting
·        Practice good field sanitation i.e. weeding, burn infested material
·        Plant away from last year crop
·        If seriously infested spray  with a recommended pesticide.
·        Organically incorporate a good amount of lantana camara before planting to repel the weevils
Sweet potato moth
Symptoms:   Caterpillar bore into the main stem leading to the roots. Vines with severe tunneling show weak growth and poor foliage development and later yellows, wilts and dies. Infested plants show poor storage root formation.
Control:  Handpick caterpillars or attacked vines and destroy them. If seriously infested spray with dimethoate
Diseases: Sweet potato virus is the most significant disease in this crop. It is characterized by dwarfing of plant, yellowing of vines and young leaves, excessive branching, dark brown to blackish corky spots in the roots.
Control
  • Use resistant or tolerant varieties where available 
  • Use disease-free planting material 
  • Practice proper field sanitation 
  • Control the white flies and aphids which spread it.
  • Crop rotation
Maturity period: Maturity period for sweet potatoes is 4-6 months.
The output ranges from four to eight tons per acre. 

Friday, 3 February 2012

Climate change adaptation and ICT in Africa

Professor Wangari Mathai was an environmentalist who fought several battles with wisdom and diplomacy to save the environment. In the era of climate change and environmental pollution, this daughter of Africa who hailed from Nyeri in central Kenya devoted her entire life to saving the environment. This made her a winner of the prestigious Nobel Peace Price which was awarded to her in Oslo in Dec. 2004. She’s gone physically but she left a legacy which will live on and the battle continuous. The weather around the world is becoming more dynamic with every passing moment due to global warming. This has resulted in prevalent droughts, crop failure, food insecurity and pressure on the limited resources .

The environment is the most important resource today in the fight against climate change, global warming, food insecurity and poverty in Africa and the rest of world. Effective adaptation to climate change in the remote rural regions of Africa is critical and it will require timely and accurate climate information. As climate change intensifies by day, one of the best methods we have to address climate change adaptation is modern information technology. One such technology namely FRONTLINESMS is in use in African countries. This service disseminates timely climate information through text messages to the farmers. Such Early warning systems enables farmers to take relevant adaptation measures in good time. Stake holders in agriculture, climate change and food security need to employ various effective early warning tools for success and sustainability of their development efforts. This stakeholder includes farmers, herders, aid workers and policymakers.The early warning tools will increase their ability to convey the relevant information to their clients and partners.

These technologies will ensure development and delivery of powerful solutions for the problems that lead to famines. According to Hillary Clinton Kenya and Ethiopia have coped better in the current drought than in previous years because the government invested in the small-scale farmers and herders. It is a high time the governments and development agents should encourage and subsidize adoption of information technologies by poor rural farmers for climate change adaptation, food security and poverty reduction. In addition markets information systems must also function well enough to provide timely and reliable detailed information on market prices and market trends that reflect scarcity or abundance of the produce, to enable the farmers and other agricultural value chain players make decisions and adapt accordingly. This will help to ease the pressure exerted on limited resources by global warming and climate change.