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Friday, 28 February 2014

The new generation of technocrats

By Murigi Ndung’u
It is at this time that the annunciation of the outcomes and the ranking of the various counties all over Kenya, that is according to the performance of the secondary institutions. The elites branded the form four end products are eagerly awaiting with profound trepidation on the outcomes and anxiously looking forward into joining the college life.
Though the enormous number of students awaiting deployment into various universities, it is a sad rigmarole to latch on the fact that less than three quarters of the students get positions in various colleges and public universities.
Students during prize giving day
This is factored out by the many impacts of the environment, ethnic background, financial backtracking, poor performance, uninformed promises that hence or otherwise include blindfolding three penny jobs, lack of good guidance and counseling, poor role modeling among other players.
On the contrary there are very many opportunities offered for the students whose financial background is a really bad and denigrating nuisance. Scholarships are awash the internet and only a meager effort is required of the students. For example there is this ‘Reach Oxford Scholarship’ that many are benefiting from.
To overcome the odds it has to begin with the real change of attitude on the part of students. Smart brains have always something to do with discipline the only sure drive to success. According to the studies done, the biggest fueling factor to better educational performance is the height of competition in the immediate environment.
The students in the most competitive areas are known to perform better than the ‘nonchalance’ infested areas. This includes those areas where education is not accorded the most crucial vitality as should be the case.
Now the top cream elites that have been unleashed are bound to bring the anticipated technocracy of 2030 to a near range, with their studying bombastic courses and stripling ideas and creative minds. This could also couple the fact that the new world of increased technological mysteries is on the verge of doubling in magnitude and efficiency, only to the disadvantage of the human tendency to remain in the decadent cocoons of ancient practices.
Though it is good to have a new age, it is advisable to stick to only the benefitting portion that comes with it. It could be a mistake to mix old and new wines but old and new wisdom mix admirably.For a better future, a sacrificed today is important. It is also easier to rob by setting a bank than holding up a bank clerk. 
The toil of the present is always a worthwhile advent. With the cognizance of the competitiveness of our present dispensation, it is a better option to choose wisdom and standing in an informed ground will offer a better aftermath.                  

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Farmers to benefit through Home Grown School Feeding Programme

By Bob Aston 

Farmers in Sipili Division in Laikipia County have been urged to practice sustainable farming in order to empower themselves. Speaking during a farming skills training on February 25, 2014 convened by Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) through Ng’arua Maarifa Centre and Laikipia Produce and Marketing Co-operative Society, Gachara Gikungu from Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV) said that farmers have the capacity to provide food for the Home Grown School Feeding Programme (HGSFP).
Gachara said that Home Grown School Feeding Programme is currently being done in 22 counties in Kenya. SNV has taken five (5) counties as pilot project. The counties are Laikipia, Kitui, Narok, Baringo and Elgeyo Marakwet.
Gachara from SNV addressing farmers
Gachara said that the school feeding programmes is a potential market for local farmers to benefit from as they will be able to supply food to primary schools within their locality.
The Ministry of Education began the Home Grown School Feeding Programme (HGSFP) in 2008. The programme is implemented in semi-arid areas of the country that are vulnerable to food insecurity. This programme operates as a cash transfer programme where schools receive resources from the government for the local purchase of food products.
Gachara said that specific schools will be selected that will be supplied with food through the program.
“We are trying to ensure that free primary school education succeeds by providing food through the school feeding program,” said Gachara.
School Feeding programmes have long proved effective in improving school enrolment, improving and stabilizing school attendance as well as increasing progression and completion rates in primary schools.
Gachara said that SNV wants farmers to benefit as it will help them end poverty. He said that they are also training farmers to aggregate their maize produce.
Gachara with co-operative officials
“The Co-operative will be able to supply food to schools through Home Grown School Feeding Program. Farmers near schools are the ones to benefit. We will link you with different schools so that you can feed them,” said Gachara.
He advised farmers to consider factors of production like; land which is a natural resource, labour which is a human resource, capital which is a man made resource and entrepreneurship and management.
“Problem with most farmers is that they do not know what they want or is good for them,” said Gachara.
Gachara also encouraged farmers to always ensure that they seek for advisory services from agricultural officers and also that they follow recommendations that they have been given by the ministry in order to succeed.
SNV focuses on agriculture to foster economic development through a well-developed pro-poor value chain development approach. Their focus is on enhanced positioning of smallholder farmers within value chains, promotion of climate friendly agriculture and facilitating increased access to food.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Farmers taught importance of sustainable agriculture

By Bob Aston 

Cooperative famers in Sipili Division of Laikipia County were on February 25, 2014 trained on farming skills. One hundred and one farmers attended the training by Netherlands Development Organization (SNV) and MEA Ltd, Ministry of agriculture and Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN). The meeting which was organized by (ALIN) through Ng’arua Maarifa Centre and Laikipia Produce and Marketing Co-operative Society brought together various stakeholders in the agriculture sector.
Speaking during the meeting Kanja Waweru, Chairman of Laikipia Produce and Marketing Co-operative society said that the economic situation of most farmers has been improving as they embrace modern farming methods. Kanja said that they have made great strides in addressing some of the problems affecting farmers like sale of fake seeds, fake fertilizer and lack of market.
Kanja addressing farmers
Kanja informed farmers that Kenya Seed Company Ltd and MEA Ltd will partner with the Co-operative in setting up demo farms.
“Kenya Seed Company Ltd is going to provide us with seeds while MEA Ltd will provide us with fertilizer in our five demo plots,” said Kanja.
Elcy Kigano, Divisional Crop Officer, Ministry of Agriculture, Sipili division urged farmers to ensure that their soil is analysed. She discouraged farmers from using DAP unless it has been recommended as per the results of soil analysis.
Elcy also encouraged farmers to plant traditional crops for food security. She said that they should set aside a section of their farm to plant traditional crops for subsistence purposes.
“Do not neglect traditional crops. These crops always ensure self sufficiency in food production as they are pivotal in ensuring self-sufficiency in food hence ensuring economic sustainability,” said Elcy.
Samwel Kige, Field Officer Ministry of Agriculture, Sipili division urged farmers to plant early. Kige asked the farmers to plough their farms across in order to prevent soil erosion during heavy rains.
Bett Kipsang, Field Officer Ng’arua Maarifa Centre-ALIN said that the centre champions a market portal called Sokopepe- an online and SMS based platforms that provide market prices information to farmers and links farmers with buyers.
Bett said that Sokopepe helps farmers to query prices in major towns in Kenya and make an informed decision on where to sell and at what price thus have a bargaining power. Additionally Sokopepe provides other services like access to input suppliers, extension services and a pool of information on both crop farming and livestock.

Bett informed the farmers that the Maarifa Centre has now introduced a new service called Farmer Record Management Information System (FARMIS). He said that FARMIS is an easy way for farmers to manage their agricultural business allowing them to quickly manage and evaluate their income and expenses.

Bett informed the farmers that FARMIS seeks to ensure that they are profiled and all their farm records automated thus enabling them to be managers in their own farms.
Job Kevin from MEA Ltd addressing farmers
Noah Koinett, Field Officer Ministry of Agriculture, Sipili division said that the Ministry has been carrying out soil analysis since the year began and that only one farmer in Sipili division has so far been recommended for DAP. Most farmers in Sipili Division have been recommended to use NPK.
Noah said that Laikipia County government has launched an initiative that will cater for costs of soil analysis for ten farmers in Sipili Division. Farmers representing each of the four sub locations of Sipili division were selected during the meeting to have their soils taken for analysis courtesy of the County government of Laikipia.
“Those who will have their soil analysed must follow the requirements that will be given,” said Elcy.
When giving the report of soil analysis done by MEA last week, Job Kevin from MEA Ltd informed the farmers that four soil samples indicated that the soil PH is very low and thus soil in Sipili is acidic.
“Majority of the farm land nutrients has been exhausted. From today ensure that you use 23.23.0 in order to succeed as a farmer.  You cannot benefit from your farm if you are not taking good care of it,” said Job.
Gachara Gikungu from Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV) said that the problem with most farmers is that they do not want to accept new farming methods and requirements.

“You will have a miserable life if you do not follow proper planting methods’’ said Gachara. Adding that there is money in agriculture but people do not realize that.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Farmers advised on post harvest grain handling

By Bob Aston 

Post harvest grain losses have been a common occurrence to most farmers in Kenya. The Ministry of Agriculture in Laikipia County is now teaching farmers on proper maize storage and post harvest handling to reduce food losses. The Storage interventional activity is being provided to farmers to reduce maize grain losses for enhanced food security.
“Poor storage of grains leads to loss of quality, possible production of mycotoxins, swelling and germination of grains,” said Elcy Kigano, Divisional Crop Officer, Ministry of Agriculture, Sipili division.
Elcy demonstrating how to measure insecticide
Post harvest losses is normally caused by poor drying before storing, poor shelling leading to breakages of grains. The storage temperatures should not be too high; the store should be well ventilated and free from pests, moisture in stores cause rotting and discoloration. The proper bags to use for cereals storage should allow optimal aeration.
Elcy said that grains must be dried as soon as possible after harvesting. Farmers were advised to wait until maize is dry in the farm before harvesting. Wet grains attract insects and moulds. Drying will reduce moisture content to between 12% - 15 %. Stored grains should also be maintained in good condition so as to avoid deterioration both in quantity and quality while during storage the grain must remain dry and clean. Microorganisms can attack stored grain before it dries properly when the storage environment is moist, or when it accumulates moisture.
“Careless handling of either maize cobs or grains can lead to spoilage. It is important to handle grains well so as to minimize post harvest losses,” said Elcy.
Elcy said that storage structure should be cleaned thoroughly before depositing grains. Old grains should also be removed from the structure. The entire store including the roof should be dusted with insecticide, especially if a previous infestation was experienced. All potential hiding places for insects should also be dusted.
Grain stores that have not been cleaned properly or dusted will experience attack by insect pests, micro-organisms like bacteria, fungi and yeast and domestic rodents.
Farmer mixing grain that has been put insecticide
Insect pests normally enter the grain, while others contaminate or damage it from outside. Domestic rodents like rat and mice not only feed on the grains but they also contaminate them with urine, feces and other pathogens such as fleas.
Elcy told the farmers to ensure that they sort maize properly before storing. Maize cobs that are of poor quality should not be stored together with the rest.
Elcy advised farmers to dress their maize cobs before putting them in the store with the recommended insecticide. Insecticide should not be put before the maize is fully dry and before dusting.
 “Make sure you measure the insecticide well. Most farmers rarely use provided measures but it is important to do so in order to know the exact quantity to use,” said Elcy.
Farmers were advised to ensure that they Mix 50g of Actellic super dusting powder for every 90 kg bag of grain. The grains have to be thoroughly mixed using a shovel. Some Actellic Super dusting powder should also be sprinkled on the outside of the bag to reduce re infestation.
“It is not recommended to use actellic super on cob maize to control the larger grain borer. Better control of the pests is obtained on shelled maize,” said Elcy.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Youth ventures into maize farming

By Bob Aston 

It is estimated that 64% of unemployed persons in Kenya are youths. The problem is attributed to inadequate employment and livelihood opportunities in rural areas, hence disillusioned youths migrate to urban centers to look for such opportunities. This is not the case for 26 year old James Mwai, a youth residing in Sipili town in Laikipia County who has decided to venture into farming.
Mwai resigned from his teaching job at Young Heroes Primary School to start farming in Machunguru area.
Mwai accessing internet at Ng'arua Maarifa Centre
Mwai has leased a half an acre piece of land which he intends to cultivate by planting maize. He said that maize production in the area is high and most people in Machunguru area are maize farmers. He plans to plant either H520 or H6310 maize variety which he said is the most preferred maize variety by farmers in the area.
“I have never practiced farming before but I have really been encouraged by my parents and other colleagues who have been farming. I want to start with half an acre and next season I will look for an acre of land. I will probably plant H520 as I have heard that their seeds normally do very well,” said Mwai.
Mwai has little knowledge of agriculture but said that he has been going to Ng’arua Maarifa Centre to access agricultural publications, use the internet to get more information about maize farming as well as seeking for advisory services from the Centre’s staff.
“I have seen farmers come to the Maarifa Centre for advisory services and I am encouraged to do the same. The information that I have gathered at the Maarifa has been invaluable. I have been capacity built and I think I am now ready to start farming,” said Mwai.
Ng’arua Maarifa Centre was founded by Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN). The centre offers various services like; market linkages and information through Sokopepe, publications, advisory services, internet access, multimedia content, ICT Training, E-government services, library services, Citizen Journalism training and Tangaza Pesa Money Transfer.
Mwai accessing internet at Ng'arua Maarifa Centre
Mwai plans to join Laikipia Produce and Marketing Co-operative Society as he said that he wants to enjoy the benefits that people who are in a Co-operative normally enjoy. He is now set to buy certified hybrid seeds from the Co-operative.
“I can encourage my fellow youths to be very active in agriculture as it is the backbone of the economy. Youths who shun agriculture should realize that it is self inclusive and people of all ages can invest in it,” said Mwai.
According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) 2013 Economic Survey, agriculture, which grew by 3.8 per cent, contributed 17.6 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product.
“I want to get good returns. I will not give up if my yields are poor. I have to try and succeed in farming,” said Mwai.
Mwai said that farmers in the area normally get an average of 10 bags in a half an acre piece of land. He said that he is also aiming to get 10 bags of maize once he harvests in October.
Vision 2030’s Economic Pillar envisages the agricultural sector among the six key growth drivers of the Kenyan economy.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Curiosity leads a farmer to joining a Co-operative

By Bob Aston 

James Mathenge was from a friend’s home on February 17, 2014 in Sipili Centre when he saw a van unloading bags of certified hybrid maize seeds. Out of curiosity he decided to approach those who were unloading the seeds to inquire if he can buy the seeds. Ten minutes later he found himself as a new member of Laikipia Produce and Marketing Co-operative Society.
Farmers being capacity built
Mathenge said that the information he received from the inquiry encouraged him to join the Co-operative. He promptly paid registration fee of Ksh 450.

“I had heard about the Co-operative and about Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) but I never got a lot of information about what they do or are involved with,” said Mathenge.
Mathenge said that the issue of certified hybrid seeds, advisory services and the issue of buying subsidized government fertilizer from the Co-operative are some of the things that encouraged him to join the Co-operative.
“I normally buy seeds but once I open the bags I find that the seeds are not genuine as some have cracks. This has been affecting my maize production,” said Mathenge.
Mathenge has been a maize farmer in Dimcom area in Sipili Division for more than 10 years. Every planting season he normally ploughs his five (5) acres piece of land and leases an additional five (5) acres.
“I have been informed that the Co-operative members are usually capacity build by ALIN. This training will really benefit me as I am not happy with what I have been harvesting,” said Mathenge.
A Co-operative official going through their records
Mathenge has been harvesting between 90-95 bags of maize in the ten (10) acre piece of land. This roughly translates to 9 bags per acre. He said that the low yield has really demoralized him at times but he expects his yield to improve this year.
“I expect that after the various capacity building meetings I will be able to harvest more than 20 bags per acre like other successful farmers,” said Mathenge.
Mathenge has now submitted his name through the Co-operative to the Ministry of Agriculture to have his soil analyzed ahead of the planting season.
“I have been told to ensure that soil analysis is carried out in my farm. I never knew the importance of soil analysis but I will make sure that once it is done I will follow all the requirements that I will be told,” said Mathenge.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Farmers encouraged to have their soil analysed

By Bob Aston
Soil analysis has been used as an aid to assessing soil fertility and plant nutrient requirements and management for many years now. The Ministry of Agriculture in Laikipia County is on the fore front urging farmers to have their soils analyzed. Since January 2014 the Ministry officials have been visiting farmers who have requested to have soil in their farms analyzed.
“The goal of soil testing is to provide an accurate assessment of the soil’s fertility status that can be used to make fertilizer recommendations,” said Samwel Kige, Field Officer Ministry of Agriculture, Sipili division.
Agriculture ministry official collecting soil samples
Kige said that proper soil test will help ensure the application of enough fertilizer to meet the requirements of the crop while taking advantage of the nutrients already present in the soil. He said that each farm has different fertilizer requirements.

Achieving and maintaining appropriate levels of soil fertility, especially plant nutrient availability, is of paramount importance if agricultural land is to remain capable of sustaining crop production at an acceptable level.
Soil analysis will be able to help a farmer to know the current pH  level of the soil, fertility levels of the principal nutrients, type and quantity of lime your soil needs, nutrients need to be added to your soil as fertilizer and amount of fertilizer the crop and soil needs.
“Soil analysis should not be done when the farmer has already ploughed the land. A sample should also not be taken near the farm boundary as it has a lot of growing matter,” said Kige.
Kige said that farmers should have their soil tested regularly and that they should ensure a period of not more than three (3) years passes before they test their soil.
Peter Gathu, a maize farmer from Kiriko Village said that he always harvested very few bags any time he planted maize or beans.
“Some farmers have been getting over 50 bags in a one acre piece of land but with me I have been getting less than 14 bags every time I harvest maize,” said Gathu.
The continuous low yield made Peter start pondering on what to do about his farm. A close friend informed him that the Ministry of Agriculture normally conducts soil analysis.
Kige mixing the collected soil samples
“I decided to consult the ministry of Agriculture to see how the issue of low yield can be resolved. I will follow all the requirements that are expected of me. I hope that I will be able to get between 30-40 bags this time around,” said Gathu.
In a one acre piece of land soil sample from four different parts of the farm plus at the centre are normally collected and then mixed properly and a sample later sent to the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) Nakuru.
The Ministry of Agriculture does not charge for collecting the soil sample but the farmers will have to pay Ksh 1000 to KARI.
On Tuesday, President Uhuru Kenyatta launched the soil testing results at Egerton University, Njoro. Results from soil testing in 164 sub-counties showed that most soils are deprived of necessary nutrients needed in crop production.
The study also found that the most limiting nutrients in the production of maize in all the districts were those required in large amounts namely nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.
Gathu is now waiting for the soil analysis results to be sent to him within 1-2 weeks so that he can start preparing his farm.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Co-operative receives second consignment of certified hybrid seeds

By Bob Aston 

Laikipia Produce and Marketing Co-operative society on February 17, 2014 received its second consignment of certified hybrid maize seeds weighing 2 tonnes. This consignment now brings the total volume of certified hybrid maize seeds the co-operative has received to 7.1 tonnes.
Some of the Co-operative members carrying certified seeds
The Co-operative has now spent Ksh 960,500 to buy certified seeds. The first seed consignment weighing 5.1 tonnes was worth 690,500 while the second consignment was worth Ksh 270,000.
The consignment consisted of varieties like H629, H520, H614 and H621. The Co-operative is selling a 25 Kg bag of maize seeds at Ksh 3,800, 10 Kg bag at Ksh 1,500 while 2 kg is being sold at Ksh 320.
Currently a 25kg bag of seeds is retailing at Ksh 4,000 in Sipili market while 10 kg is retailing at Ksh 1,500 with 2 kg retailing at Ksh 350.
Demand for certified seeds has been on the rise owing to the need to boost food production. The first maize consignment saw a high demand for H614. The variety was over in the Co-operative store room within a week.
Most farmers in Sipili prefer planting the H614. This maize variety is heavier compared to other maize, it can dry in the farm, is tolerant to blight, weevil attack and leaf and ear diseases.
“These are like traditional crops. They have been planted for a long time and most farmers trust and believe in them as they were among the first certified seeds to be introduced in Kenya,” said James Kamau, the Divisional Agriculture Officer, Sipili division.
Some of the Co-operative members carrying certified seeds
Certified seeds come with a guaranteed germination, less risk of seed borne diseases and improved yield. The Co-operative has been striving to ensure that farmer’s access input ahead of the planting season.
Tabitha Wanjiru, the Treasurer of Laikipia Produce and Marketing Co-operative Society said that seeds are just one of the inputs required in order to enjoy good returns, but farmers must also play their part by following correct planting requirements as they had been taught during capacity building workshops organized by Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN).
 “We would like to urge farmers to buy certified seeds and also ensure soil analysis is carried out in the farms,” said Tabitha.
ALIN through Ng’arua Maarifa Centre, with support from the Ford Foundation, initiated the formation of the Co-operative to help farmers bulk produce, particularly maize.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Sipili Cereal Bank makes strides in improving farmer’s welfare

By Bob Aston
High cost of fertilizer in Kenya has affected its use as most farmers have been unable to afford the input. In Sipili Division of Laikipia County, a Self Help Group (SHG) called Sipili Cereal Bank has decided to ensure that farmers are able to get subsidized government fertilizer by bulk purchasing and then selling to farmers.
Last week the group brought 600 bags (30 tonnes) of fertilizer worth Ksh 1,488,000 for farmers. They have now ordered three (3) tonnes consignment of maize seeds worth Ksh 300,000.
“The subsidized government fertilizer is Ksh 2,500 but we are selling at Ksh 2,800 because of the transport costs. We procured the fertilizer from the Kenya Seed Company Ltd at Nakuru so the cost of transportation had to be factored in,” said Joseph Mwati, the Chairman of Sipili Cereal Bank.
Maize drier at the Sipili Cereal Bank
Mwati also said that during a seminar held at Nanyuki the group met with representatives of Homegrown School Feeding Program (HGSFP) with a view of supplying food to primary schools within Laikipia County.
Mwati said that they got seed certification from Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services (KEPHIS) and they are now supplying certified hybrid seeds directly from the Kenya Seed Company Ltd. Various varieties of maize and beans are currently available in the store. They are also supplying subsidized government fertilizer.
The success enjoyed by the group has also come with a fare share of challenges. Transport cost has been a major hindrance to some of the projects undertaken by the group. Also lack of finance has deterred the group from venturing into other areas like dairy and horticulture farming.
“We are looking for a donor to build a water pan. We want to grow vegetables and also connect electricity in the Cereal Bank,” said Mwati.
The group has constantly been advocating for capacity building for its members. The members have been trained on Kilimo Biashara with an aim of encouraging them to plant well in order to get enough yields.
Mwati said that the group is planning to invite Pioneer Industries Limited, an organization engaged in processing and export of variety of cereals based products in order to form a partnership with them.
“We want to promote farmers in Sipili. We serve all the farmers here and it will be a big step if we will be able to eliminate middlemen here,” said Mwati.
Joseph Mwati, the Chairman of Sipili Cereal Bank said that they have managed to insure the warehouse and are now awaiting certification from the Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC) to enable them get the Warehouse Receipt System.
“The warehouse receipt system has been a long process but soon we will be able to get it. We have been constantly meeting with EAGC with an aim of undertaking the requirements for one to be able to be certified with Warehouse Receipt System,” said Mwati.
Farmers in Sipili are now able to buy certified seeds from the cereal Bank and also a Co-operative operating in the area called Laikipia Produce and Marketing Co-operative Society.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Sipili Polytechnic urges community members to enroll at the institution

By Philip Mwamrizi
The Sipili Polytechnic in Sipili Divison, Laikipia County was set to become operational from September 2013, but the institution has only managed to enroll four (4) students as at January 2014. The institution has only one teaching staff member who also doubles up as the Polytechnic Manager.
The institution has three buildings: Tuition block, administration office and a library. The tuition block and administration buildings were built with the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) while the library was constructed by an independent well wisher.
The Sipili Polytechnic gate
The four students; three girls and one boy were all selected in mid January, from the class eight leavers among several others who have not yet reported.
 “We intensively advertised for student positions including during DO’s and Chief’s meetings but unfortunately no one showed up, “said John Ndumia, the Polytechnic Manager.
 “I picked quite a number of students who had not secured places in secondary schools and had admission letters sent to them for acceptance. They were to report on the fourth of February, and here we are, me and my four students,” added Ndumia.
The 12th of February saw the institution Board of Directors hold a meeting to discuss the take off problem and the future of the polytechnic. Immediately thereafter there were interviews of other interested parties, students and teachers who looked forward to be part of the institution.
“We want to bring on board at least two more teachers for a short period before we increase that number, and as many students as possible. We would rather have more students than the capacity so that I can call for help than restricting the number.” said Ndumia.
One of the buildings Funded by the CDF
The qualification for students who want to join the institution is a minimum of 160 marks in Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE). Most courses to be offered like carpentry, welding, tailoring and masonry among others are technical courses with 85-90% (depending on the course) of school work and examination being practical work termed ‘workshop’ and the rest being theory.
Among those hoping to get admitted is Dennis Njuguna, a form four leaver who finished school two years ago. Dennis said that he has been looking for a job in vain.
 “I have tried securing employment but I have not been successful. However I have seen more openings for technical jobs which I have not qualified for,” said Dennis.
 “I think it is important having some technical knowledge and having some qualifications added in my resume,” added Dennis.
The fee for those who join the institution is set to be Ksh 7,650 for first term while second and third term they will be paying Ksh 6,100. This according to the manager is an introductory offer for their starting students which would otherwise be revised in the next two to three years.
Ndumia is encouraging Sipili residents to enroll at the institution as it was built for them.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Sipili registers slight increase in Valentine’s Day activities

By Bob Aston and Philip Mwamrizi 

Saint Valentine's Day, also known as Valentine's Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine, is observed on February 14 each year. The day received a low key recognition in Sipili, Laikipia County as most of the residents continued with their normal day to day activities.
One or two people could be spotted at the shopping centre wearing red dresses, shirts or skirts. Some of the residents said that they are concentrating on their farms hence do not have time to dedicate to their loved ones on that particular day. Those who were aware of Valentine’s Day said that interest has increased with regards to Valentine’s Day.
Valentine gifts displayed at Emmanuel Connections
Martin Ngari a businessman running Merit photo Studio said that this year has seen an increase in Valentine purchases. Valentine cards and flowers were already over by midday during Valentine’s Day. Martin said that most of the people who came to purchase valentine gifts want to impress their loved ones while others are purchasing for yet to be girlfriends or people they have a crush on.
“Sipili is changing fast. More and more people are becoming aware of Valentine’s Day. I had a huge quantity of Valentine’s stock, which I brought to scoop on the day but it was over before the end of the day,” said Martin.
St. Valentine's Day began as a liturgical celebration of one or more early Christian saints named Valentinus. It dates back to the 5th century, but has origins in the Roman holiday Lupercalia.
Caroline Wangui from Smartek Bookshop said that the sale of Valentine’s Day gifts was affected by the closure of the Bookshop on Thursday. She said that most of the shoppers buy cards or flowers for their loved ones to indicate appreciation, affection and gratefulness to the person they are taking the gift too.
“Most of my customers who buy this valentine gifts are youths, some are students from the local high schools. I have also had several adults coming in to buy them,” said Caroline.
Some valentine gifts displayed at Smartek Bookshop
Smartek Bookshop had stocked synthetic flowers in the form of red roses, small teddy bears with “I love you” quotes on their belly, transparent cylindrical like bottles filled with small white bearings and red pieces of papers with one written two or three lines of sentimental words expressing love, deep love.
Caroline said that as a person she is passionate about the day and she could not resist wearing red on that particular day.
“I can advise those who have not brought Valentine’s gift for their loved ones to buy for them because it shows that they love them,” said Caroline.
Valentine’s Day is normally marked with people giving out cards, letters, candy, gifts or flowers to their spouse or partner. Others arrange a romantic meal in a restaurant or recreational centres.
The most common Valentine's Day symbols are the heart, particularly in reds and pinks, and pictures or models of Cupid. People who have fallen in love are sometimes said to be 'struck by Cupid's arrow. Other symbols of Valentine's Day are couples in loving embraces and the gifts of flowers, chocolate, red roses and lingerie that couples often give each other.