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Friday, 31 October 2014

Newly formed CBO seeks to conserve the environment

By Bob Aston
The destruction of the forest cover in the country and climate change has led to some community members from Dimcom area in Laikipia West coming together to form Pambana Mazingira Bora Community Based Organization (CBO). The CBO which was formed in September this year has already started sensitizing the public about the importance of preserving forests in the country.
The CBO is keen on building the capacity of the community in afforestation, creating awareness in good management, proper utilization of water resources and practicing profitable agribusiness in the community.
“We are planning to train members, environmental clubs in schools and other individuals groups on seed harvesting, nurseries management and grafting fruit trees,” said Mr. Patrick Muya, Project Coordinator, Pambana Mazingira Bora CBO.
He said that their objectives include; promoting cheap water harvesting techniques, protecting and conserving water catchment areas, improving community livelihood through agriculture, promoting energy conservation measures, promoting eco-tourism within the communities and rehabilitating water intakes and reservoirs.
He said that the CBO is committed to increasing forest cover from the current 1.7 percent to the United Nations recommended 10 percent of all the available land. In order to achieve this they are planning to plant indigenous trees around homes, farms, dams, schools, churches and other community lands.
“We are planning to sensitize member groups on other inter-projects like bee keeping, fish farming, floriculture, eco-tourism, waste management and introducing other cash crops like stevia and ctoron megalocarpus,” said Mr. Muya.
He noted that the increased forest cover will enable group members to benefit from carbon credit. He said that they intend to push legislation in the county assembly on the 10 percent forest cover on all individual and community land in line with the requirement in the Kenyan constitution and the government’s vision 2030.
He expects that the trees will provide shade, reduce soil erosion, enrich the soil, encourage the growth of local native shrubs and grasses that are becoming extinct due to increased agricultural activities, produce edible fruits, traditional medicines and fodder for livestock.
“We are encouraging the community on use of green energy like solar, takamoto, biogas, biofuel and energy saving stoves,” said Mr. Muya.
He expects that the demand to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the government’s vision 2030 will provide the CBO with an opportunity to find solutions to climate change and also enable them improve food production, create employment opportunities and create conserve the biodiversity in Dimcom area.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Addressing water resource problems in Sipili sub catchment

By Bob Aston
The dwindling water volume from the water source around Sipili sub catchment area has been prevalent for a long time now. This is exacerbated by encroachment of the catchment area hence general decrease in vegetation as a result of human activities.
Previously, little effort has been made to protect water quality in the sub catchment. Most of the resources in the sub catchment are not protected hence deterioration both in quality and quantity. Some of the most common causes of poor water quality are siltation, direct watering from springs, dams and streams by people and livestock and poor cultivation methods.
A section of Wangwachi A dam

Sipili Water Resource Users Association (WRUA) together with Water Resources Management Authority (WRMA) through support from Tree Is Life Trust (TILT) and stakeholders like Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN), Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries and local leaders from the national government have now come together to address water resource problems and catchment protection by developing Sub Catchment Management Plan (SCMP).
The SCMP will enable Sipili WRUA and other stakeholders to improve the status of the catchment and water resources within Wangwachi and Sipili.
The SCMP reflects a set of activities designed to meet identified objectives to address water resource management problems within the Sipili sub catchment. It also provides a framework through which various stakeholders can collaborate towards improving the water resources in the sub catchment.
Ground water is the predominant water source covering a significant amount of total water demands within the households in Sipili and Wangwachi. There are also several seasonal streams and low yielding boreholes in the catchment area.
Currently information from Sipili WRUA and WRMA indicates that the sub catchment has eleven (11) dams and one (1) water pan. This includes; Karungubii, Wangwachi A, Wangwachi B, Kauka, Ndaragwiti, Ndemu Ndune, Muraya, Dimcom, Marura, Kahura, Mwireri and Mwireri B dam. The area also has two springs namely Kiriko and Kagwaru and a water pan called Leleshwa.
One of the problem listed by dam committees include scarcity of water which is caused by riparian destruction, deforestation, diminishing resources, lack of water harvesting facilities and uncontrolled water use. Solutions proposed include; awareness creation, marking of the riparian area, planting water friendly species, promoting controlled and legal water use and increasing water storage facilities.
Destruction of water catchment has also been on the increase and this is mainly through riparian destruction, over abstraction, increased pollution, poor farming methods, increase in population, charcoal burning and illegal logging, ignorance, poverty and encroachment. Some solutions provided include; creating awareness, adopting alternative livelihood practices, planting of water friendly trees, compliance and enforcement, exploiting alternative sources, pegging of riparian areas and adopting good agricultural practices.
Sipili WRUA members inspecting one of the boreholes
Soil erosion has also been a major problem and this is mainly caused by overstocking, poor farming practices, lack of soil erosion structures, catchment destruction. Solutions provided include; controlled grazing, adopting conservation agriculture, erecting gabions and terraces, afforestation and riparian conservation.
Poor drainage due to poor planning and undefined sewer lines has also been a problem in the sub catchment. Solutions provided include; proper planning, developing defined sewer lines and enforcement and compliance.
Another problem has been illegal abstraction caused by lack of awareness, ignorance and poverty. Solutions provided include; awareness creation, livelihood empowerment, promoting legal water use and helping Sipili WRUA to be proactive.
Water use conflict caused by inadequate water, competition between various water users, climate change, lack of awareness and violating of water laws has also been a problem in the sub catchment. Solutions provided include; increase water storage, explore ground water resource, legalize water use, creating awareness, empowering Sipili WRUA on conflict resolution and compliance and enforcement.
Another issue that has been common is water pollution which is caused by agriculture chemicals, poor drainage, poor cultivation methods, direct watering of livestock, poor location of spraying sites, washing of clothes, vehicles and motorbikes near water sources. Solutions provided include; proper disposal of the pesticides cans, construction of watering troughs, improving on cultivation methods and carrying out anti pollution awareness campaigns.
The various water stakeholders are set to finalize the development of SCMP before end of October.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Agribusiness has potential to reduce youth unemployment

By Bob Aston
Youth unemployment has remained one of the most daunting challenges in Kenya’s socio-economic development. Today, unemployment in Kenya stands at 40%, and 70% of those unemployed are youths.
Agribusiness has the potential to not only grow the economy but also create an exponentially large number of jobs than any other sector in the country thus reducing unemployment amongst the youths.
Agribusiness encompasses a wide range of activities that generate economic value. Agribusiness includes all businesses involved in agricultural production, including farming and contract farming, seed supply, agri-chemicals, farm machinery, wholesale and distribution, processing, marketing and retail sales.
The need for agribusiness development in Kenya is undeniable, especially for the largely young and rural population. An agribusiness development path would contribute substantially to poverty reduction and improved social outcomes, forming part of a socially-inclusive development strategy.
An agribusiness-led development strategy, with stronger productivity growth throughout the entire agribusiness value chain system, offers the best opportunity for rapid and broad-based economic growth thus leading to job creation for the youths.
Farmer displaying some of his produce
The Kenya Agribusiness Strategy seeks to make Kenya’s agribusiness sector a competitive driver of growth.  It proposes how the agribusiness sector can play a key role in realizing Kenya’s 2030 vision of annual economic growth rates of 10 percent. The strategy, if successful, will deliver wealth creation, job creation and food security. The Agribusiness strategy also lays down the foundations for positive and sustained growth of the agribusiness sector in the long term.
Investing more in agribusiness could ensure the country realizes the potential of the agriculture sector across a wide range of sub sectors including; food, textile, energy industries and biotechnology. Agro-industrial activities lend themselves to creating jobs in rural areas where there are many youths.
Improving the country’s agriculture and agribusiness sectors means higher incomes and more jobs particularly in the agricultural input industry, agro-industry products and equipments for processing, financing, marketing and distribution services.
The expansion of employment through downstream agro-industries processing value chains may be one of the few local paths of empowering youths. To ensure this is achieved, it is important to enhance and strengthen linkages with industry through agro processing and providing value addition to agricultural products.
In order to reap the benefits of job creation, it is important that policymakers and development partners target interventions along the entire agribusiness value chain, and not just agriculture. Of particular importance is creating farmer-agribusiness linkages which will play an important role in the development of small-holder commercial agriculture and in the development of domestic capacity for increased value added for agricultural produce through processing.
Vision 2030’s Economic Pillar envisages the agricultural sector among the six key growth drivers of the Kenyan economy.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Biodiversity conservation in Laikipia County

By Bob Aston
Laikipia County is among the richest in biodiversity in the county. The reason for its high biodiversity is the extent of the area of conservation, its varied topography and its geographical setting which straddles several ecological zones.
According to the Laikipia Wildlife Conservation strategy for 2012-2030, the county contains a great diversity of plants and animals. A preliminary species inventory done by Laikipia Wildlife Forum (LWF) indicates the county has 540 species of birds, 95 species of mammals, 87 species of reptiles and amphibians, almost 1000 invertebrates and over 700 species of plants.
The county has broadly six (6) different types of habitats that include; Grassland and open woodland, acacia-cammiphora woodland, upland dry forests, evergreen bushland, rivers and wetland and scarps and kopjes.
Reafforestation done in one of the forests in Laikipia
Grassland and open woodland covers more than half of Laikipia, Acacia-Commiphora woodland occurs in the dry central and northern part of Laikipia, Upland Dry Forests contains the greatest diversity of species in the county, Evergreen bushland covers large areas of south central and West Laikipia, rivers and wetlands which used to dominate the county are now rare, Scarps and Kopjes provide sanctuary for higly diverse are relatively rare plant communities.
As population increases ecosystems are being rapidly altered and the county is undergoing a massive loss of biodiversity. Some of the issues posing a threat to the biodiversity include; loss, fragmentation and degradation of habitat, the spread of invasive species, unsustainable use of natural resources, climate change, inappropriate fire regimes, escalating poverty and conflicts, changes to the aquatic environment and water flows and poor education and inadequate involvement of the community.
Uncontrolled use and exploitation of some of Laikipia habitats has had an overwhelming impact as indigenous forest cover within the forest reserves of South –West Laikipia (Marmanet, Lariak, Ol Arabel, Rumuruti and Uaso Narok) has reduced considerably.
Through the conservation of biodiversity the survival of many species and habitats which are threatened due to human activities can be ensured. In order to secure valuable natural resources for future generations and protecting the well being of eco-system functions, a pro active approach that incorporates public participation needs to be established.
Community based Natural Resources Management (NRM) association like Water Resource Users Association (WRUA) and Community Forest Association (CFA) have been instrumental in the county in water resource management at sub catchment level and conservation of forests respectively.
Integrating conservation into farming practices will help preserve biodiversity as well as improve the livelihood of farmers.
Men enjoying the beauty of the county
The Laikipia Wildlife Conservation strategy for 2012-2030 indicates that by 2030 appropriate management action will have been taken to maintain or enhance areas of natural habitat that are currently vulnerable and in decline.
According to the Kenya National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP), deliberate measures are currently being put in place to fulfill the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, including Aichi Biodiversity Targets.
The NBSAP Action Plan was developed to facilitate the achievement of the national vision and aspirations. It describes issues that threaten biodiversity and what needs to be done, how it would be done, and the time-frame in which it should be done.
The Aichi Biodiversity Targets aims to provide an overarching framework on biodiversity, not only for the biodiversity-related conventions, but for the entire United Nations system and all other partners engaged in biodiversity management and policy development.
Globally the value of biodiversity as a key component of the environment was recognized during the buildup to the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. During that occasion, Kenya endorsed and adopted Agenda 21, and also signed the Convention on Biological Diversity' (CBD).
Climate change is increasingly contributing to biodiversity degradation. Actions that are currently being taken by different stakeholders will help to mitigate the effects of climate change consequently preserving biodiversity.
Biodiversity is extremely important as it is required to satisfy basic needs like food, drinking water, fuel, shelter and medicine. Biodiversity helps in; maintenance of water cycles, regulation of climate, photosynthetic fixation, protection of soil, storage and cycling of essential nutrients, as well as absorption and breakdown of pollutants. .

Monday, 27 October 2014

Climate smart agriculture is the way to go

By Bob Aston
The effect of climate change is posing a great challenge to the production of food in Kenya. The rapid and uncertain changes in rainfall patterns and temperature regimes has increased the vulnerability of smallholder farmers and most of them are set to realize low yields this year.
This problem has also been made worse by land degradation which is reducing the productive capacities of cropland, rangeland and woodland during a time of rising demand for food, fibre, fuel, freshwater, fodder, household energy and income.
Farmer displaying his farm produce during World Food Day celebrations
The smallholder farmers risk being overwhelmed by the pace and severity of climate change yet they are the mainstay of food production in the country. To ensure a food secure future, farming must become climate resilient.
In order to address this problem it is now important for farmers to adopt Climate-smart agriculture which is an integrative approach to address these interlinked challenges of food security and climate change.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) defines climate-smart agriculture as consisting of three main pillars namely; sustainably increasing agricultural productivity and incomes in order to meet national food security development goals, building resilience and the capacity of agricultural and food systems to adapt to climate change and seeking opportunities to mitigate emissions of greenhouse gases and increase carbon sequestration.
Climate smart agriculture is a way to achieve short and long term agricultural development priorities in the face of climate change and serve as an integrator to other development priorities.
There is now an increasing awareness of the impact that agriculture has on climate, particularly through production of methane and nitrous oxide-potent greenhouse gases. Agricultural innovation for climate change resilience and mitigation is the surest way of ensuring food security for the growing population.
Ministry of Agriculture official displaying some crops produced in Sipili
Smallholder farmers output are constrained by inherently low fertility, poor access to inputs such as certified seeds and fertilizers, poor post harvest handling and lack of market. In order to shift from some of this challenges farmers now need to invest in more productive, resilient and low-carbon agriculture.
This will require a major change from the way smallholder farmers manage their land, water, nutrients and genetic resources.
Climate smart agriculture approach entails greater investment in managing climate risks, understanding and planning for adaptive transitions that may be needed like new farming systems or livelihoods and exploiting opportunities for reducing or removing greenhouse gas emissions where feasible.
The United Nations launched the Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture on Sept. 24 in New York, during the U.N. Climate Summit.
The initiative includes techniques such as conservation agriculture, agroforestry, intercropping, crop rotation, improved extreme weather forecasting, integrated crop-livestock management and improved water management. The aim is to increase the ecological production of food in order to reduce carbon emissions.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Laikipia West agriculture stakeholders hold World food day celebrations

By Bob Aston
Agriculture stakeholders drawn from Laikipia West turned up in large numbers to celebrate World Food Day whose theme this year was Family Farming:” Feeding the world, caring for the earth.” The event which took place on October 16, 2014 at Sipili auction centre was graced by among others Laikipia Country officials as well as the national government representatives.
Ng'arua Maarifa Centre stand during the World Food Day celebration
Farmers and other agriculture stakeholders were not left behind as they exhibited their products while others came to learn what their colleagues have been doing.
Various government departments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), community based organizations (CBOs) and self help groups exhibited their products.
Some of the organizations present included; Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN), Pure Circle Kenya Ltd, Agricultural Sector Development Support Program (ASDSP), Laikipia Produce and Marketing Co-operative Society, Syngenta, Osho Chemicals Ltd, Elgon Kenya Ltd, Pioneer Hi-bred Kenya Limited, Sipili Water Resources Users Association (WRUA), Sipili Location Community Forest Association (CFA), Sipili Cereal Bank, Good Life Sacco Ltd, Lariak Forest Conservation Area Project and International Small Group and Tree Planting Program (TIST).
Government ministries and departments that attended the ceremony included; Ministry of agriculture, fisheries and livestock, public health and veterinary department.
Various self help groups and Community based organizations drawn from Laikipia West Constituency also attended the celebration.
Some of the exhibitors with their produce
Speaking during the event, Mr. Arthur Mathai, Director of Agriculture, Laikipia County encouraged farmers to always attend such functions as they will be able to learn a lot from exhibitors.
He noted that 80 percent of farmers in Laikipia County practice family farming. He urged farmers to adopt drought resistant crops in order to harvest during dry weather. He said that farmers should adopt best farming practices in order to improve their yield.
“We have to think of our environment. Yields are reducing and thus we have to invest on areas that can reduce soil erosion like conservation agriculture. The county government has already started promoting conservation agriculture in Laikipia,” said Mr. Mathai.
He said that the county government has also started training farmers on post harvest handling in order to reduce the 30 percent wastage which normally occur after harvesting.
“We are currently trying to ensure that farmers carry out soil analysis. We want to leave a good legacy for the future generation and we can only do that when we improve on our farming,” said Mr. Mathai.
Mr. Samuel Mwangi addressing addressing participants
Mr.Samuel Mwangi, Deputy Sub County administrator, informed farmers that the county government will start building water pans to ensure that farmers do not suffer again due to drought. He encouraged farmers to venture into horticulture particularly tomato farming which is doing well in the area. This he said will enable them to receive good returns thus improving their livelihood.
He encouraged farmers to make use of agriculture extension officers as they have been equipped to assist farmers. He noted that the county government has started promoting poultry farming and rabbit rearing which he said has experienced a huge demand recently.
The event provided farmers with an opportunity to learn about Climate Smart agriculture (CSA) and best farming practices. The public was also able to see various technologies/innovations that were exhibited by various organizations.
The World Food Day was declared by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly to honor the date of the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in 1945. It aims to heighten public awareness of world food security and strengthen solidarity in the struggle against hunger, malnutrition and poverty.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Water stakeholders in Sipili start process of developing SMCP

By Bob Aston
Sipili Water Resource Users Association (WRUA) in collaboration with Water Resources Management Authority (WRMA) and stakeholders like Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN), Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries and the national government have started developing sub management catchment plan (SMCP). Through support from Tree Is Life Trust (TILT) the water stakeholders held a two days capacity building workshop from 14th to 15th October2014 at Ng’arua Maarifa Centre to start the process of coming up with the SMCP.
Speaking during the workshop, Mrs. Rahab Nyururu from WRMA noted that SMCP is an approach that enables the involvement of stakeholders in planning and sustainable management of their water, land and related resources for improved livelihoods.
She said that SMCP will enable Sipili WRUA to improve the status of the catchment and water resources within their jurisdiction.
Stakeholders following proceedings during the workshop
The process that the stakeholders will follow in order to come up with SCMP will include; sector reform which will indicate why water users are involved in water resource management (WRM), stakeholder mapping and analysis which will indicate people who should be consulted and those who will be affected by WRM in sub catchment, problem identification, analysis and prioritization, solution identification and the development of SCMP.
“Your work as stakeholders will now be to develop an initial SCMP that captures all the areas that have been included in the SCMP development process. This can at times be used as a basis for an initial application for funds if well prepared,” said Mrs. Nyururu.
The SCMP reflects a set of activities designed to meet identified objectives to address water resource management problems within the Sipili sub catchment. It also provides a framework through which various stakeholders can collaborate towards improving the water resources in a particular catchment.
Sipili WRUA is planning to complete developing the SCMP before the end of this month. Weekly capacity building trainings have now been organized to ensure the SCMP is completed as scheduled.
The Mazingira knowledge sharing kibanda at Ng’arua Maarifa Centre will act as the main platform that the stakeholders will be using when developing the SCMP and also in disseminating information about riparian and sub-catchment areas protection.

WRMA official urges communities to protect riparian and catchment areas

By Bob Aston
Sipili Water Resource Users Association (WRUA) members have been urged to be at the forefront of protecting riparian and catchment areas. Speaking during a capacity building workshop on October 15, 2014 organized by Sipili WRUA and Water Resources Management Authority (WRMA) at Ng’arua Maarifa Centre in Laikipia West, Mrs. Rahab Nyururu from WRMA said that members of Sipili WRUA need to understand aspects related to catchment conservation.
Mrs. Nyururu said that conservation of riparian land has been addressed through Water Resource Management (WRM) rules 2007.
Mrs. Nyururu addressing participants during the workshop
She said various activities have been proscribed on riparian land that include; tillage or cultivation, clearing of indigenous trees or vegetation, building of permanent structures, disposal of any form of waste within the riparian land, excavation of soil or development of quarries, planting of exotic species that may have adverse effect to the water resource or any other activity that in the opinion of the Authority and other relevant stakeholders may degrade the water resource.
“There may be site specific catchment areas that need to be identified, mapped and assessed. These areas are smaller than the sub-catchment and may be related to springs, micro-catchments, hilltops and swamps,” said Mrs. Nyururu.
She urged Sipili WRUA to engage in activities that lead to conservation of riparian and catchment areas. She noted that the establishment of a tree nursery, afforestation and reaforestation and farm/ protected area can go a long way in protecting riparian areas.
She said that a well vegetated riparian area will protect the river bank from erosion and collapse. This protects the land and helps protect the water quality. She added that protecting riparian areas also retards floods which can have a destructive impact downstream.
“Riparian reserve is important to the water resources because it reduces runoff and soil erosion from going directly into the water course and it also acts as a buffer zone to trap the runoff water and soil erosion,” said Mrs. Nyururu.
She informed Sipili WRUA to start a pegging exercise of riparian and catchment areas.  She said this can be done through dialogues and agreement with land owners as to reason for pegging and also plan with them the best use of riparian land in a way that is consistent with best practice.
“The government requires those that have riparian land to be good custodians of the land in order to protect the water resources,” said Mrs. Nyururu.
She also called for demarcation of riparian lands for easy management. She said that the radius of riparian land adjacent to eye of a spring, a lake, reservoir, stagnant body of water and land on each side of a watercourse has been addressed through various water laws while the water resource inspector can also determine the radius of riparian land.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

The examinational period

By Murigi Ndung’u
As the year wanes away, the past accumulates. What we know now supersedes what we knew yesterday, or maybe the day before that. Similarly we develop from one level to another. That is the cognitive person, the mind and the body. To decide on our eligibility to the next level, an examination has to be set.
To many students this is a dispensation marked by suppressed tension and fears. Tension is one factor that catapults failure. Exams could be symbolic giants in our lives, haunting the very steps that we intend to make and taunting what we believed was success.
This is a disheartening string of the character traits that describe examinations. On the plus, you as the student, having gone through the academic system, are turbocharged to overcome whatever is presented at your platter with the ease of a giant slayer.
Students from New Dawn Secondary celebrating last years KCSE results
In life we may get ourselves deeper into activities that mean quite a lot to us, only to discover it was never meant to be. A case in study is the school life, co-curricular activities as well as other off-the school activities could be well reinvigorating and encouraging, but only the super talented in such live to benefit. That is to say, besides other daily operations, the best thing is to focus on the main agenda back at school, everything else comes as a by the way.
Exams are also set to differentiate between the different capacities of people or groups of people. In case you fail in an examination, it is wise to forget that and invest in the future. Unfortunately, when a door is closed for us, we often waste a lot of time on the closed door blinded by the sheer oblivion of another door that has been opened for us. Life is very fair, on closing one door, it opens another.
It may be a bolt from the blue to get what you really expect from what expect from, but do not be so blind as to get it from where you did not expect it. When an examination presents a challenge to you, present the same challenge to the examiners by getting them wary of the fact that they belittled your abilities, show them you are capable of far much great flair, because that  is what the truth is, your repertoire is far much greater!
Wish all Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) candidates success as they prepare to start their examination. May their hard work be rewarded with good results. God bless.

Sipili agriculture stakeholders set to hold World Food Day celebrations

By Bob Aston
The County government of Laikipia Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries through Sipili agriculture Stakeholders Forum is set to hold an open day during the World Food Day at Sipili Community Stadium on October 16, 2014 starting from 9:00 am. The event which will be graced by among others Laikipia County Governor will mark world food day celebration whose theme this year is Family Farming: “Feeding the world, caring for the earth.”
Also expected at the open day will be various organizations that include; Kenya Seed Company Ltd, Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN), Participatory Approaches for Integrated Development (PAFID), Syngenta, Osho Chemicals Ltd, Elgon Kenya Ltd, Tree Is Life Trust (TILT), Twiga Chemicals, Pioneer Hi-bred, Rumuruti Forest Association, Upper Ewaso Narok Water Resources Users Association (WRUA), Pure Circle Kenya Ltd, Laikipia Produce and Marketing Co-operative Society, Sipili Location Community Forest Association (CFA), Sipili WRUA, Sipili Cereal Bank and International Small Group and Tree Planting Program (TIST).
Sipili Agriculture Stakeholders Forum members during a meeting
Government ministries and departments expected to attend the open day include; Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock, Public Health, Veterinary department and Adult Education. Various self help groups and Community based organizations drawn from Laikipia West Constituency are also expected to attend.
The event will provide farmers with an opportunity to learn about Climate Smart agriculture (CSA) and best farming practices. The public will also be able to see various technologies/innovations that will be exhibited by various organizations.
Mr. James Kamau, Divisional Agriculture Officer, Ol-Moran/Sipili Ward has urged the public to turn up in large number during the celebration. He said that the open day will provide the public with an opportunity to learn more about family farming and their importance in ensuring food security for the country.
“We are expecting a lot of exhibitors who are involved in the agriculture sector. The open day will enable farmers to learn from them. This will be an important day in the agriculture sector. No one from Ol-Moran/Sipili Ward should miss attending the open day,” said Mr. Kamau.
Some of the exhibitors that the public should look out for during the open day include; Kenya Seed Company Ltd as they will be able to learn more about certified hybrid seeds, Sokopepe as farmers will get an opportunity to learn more about SOKO+ and Farm Records Management Information System (FARMIS) and even register for the products, Pure Circle Kenya Ltd as farmers will be able to learn about Stevia plant which has generated a lot of interest in Sipili, Laikipia Produce and Marketing Co-operative Society which is now a grain business hub and Bidii Women Group which is an umbrella organization that has brought together Makutano B and Smart Lady Women groups. The women have been making baskets, purses, necklaces, bangles, anklets and earrings.
The World Food Day was declared by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly to honor the date of the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in 1945. It aims to heighten public awareness of world food security and strengthen solidarity in the struggle against hunger, malnutrition and poverty.
On behalf of Sipili Agriculture Stakeholders Forum of which ALIN is a member, we would like to welcome members of the public to the open day which will be held at Sipili Community Stadium on October 16, 2014 from 9:00 am.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Effects of climate change calls for promotion of traditional crops

By Bob Aston
Traditional crops also referred to as “orphan” or “neglected” crops continue to play an important role in the subsistence and economy of rural communities. Despite their potential for dietary diversification and the provision of micronutrients, they have historically been overlooked as they attract little research and development attention because of their low significance in terms of global food resources.
Alongside their commercial potential, they are adapted to marginal soil and climate conditions as most of them are drought resistant.
The adverse effects of climate change in Kenya particularly this year which has registered erratic weather pattern shows that promotion of traditional crops can go a long way in alleviating hunger and ensuring food security in the country.
A maize farmer observing the poor maize germination in his farm
Traditional crops like millet, cassava, sorghum, amaranth, sweet potatoes, cowpeas and yams are pivotal in ensuring self sufficiency in food hence ensuring economic sustainability. Most of these crops are drought tolerant and thus can withstand the changing weather patterns currently being experienced in most parts of the Country.
Most Kenyans depend on rain fed agriculture but the unpredictable weather this year has led to massive crop failure in most parts of the country which is set to contribute to food shortage. The increasing temperature has also affected the growing of major crops in the country and thus threatening the livelihoods of farmers.
Traditional crops can significantly help improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers as their demand has recently gone up. Orphan crops are expected to soon become an income generating ventures for most farmers because they are more resistant to drought compared to other crops.
Initially, most farmers avoided planting traditional crops as people had a low opinion of such crops, thinking that crops like cassava and potatoes were for rural people who could not afford to buy bread. This perception has now changed with urban residents now consuming more indigenous foods than the rural people.
Climate change has increased vulnerabilities in Kenya. Resource poor farmers and communities or individuals with substantial exposure to climate change elements are rendered vulnerable, often facing serious crop failures, income losses and livelihood collapses. In order for Kenya to be food secured the national and county governments need to encourage farmers to plant traditional crops for subsistence purposes.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Sipili and Ol-Moran group leaders capacity built on Uwezo Fund

By Bob Aston
Community based organizations (CBOs) and self help group leaders from Sipili/Ol Moran Ward were on October 10, 2014 capacity built on Uwezo Fund at Sipili Catholic Church Hall in Laikipia West. The training which was organized by Sipili/Ol Moran Member of County Assembly (MCA) provided group leaders with an opportunity to learn how to apply for the funds.
Speaking during the training, Sipili/Ol-Moran Ward MCA, Hon Duncan Ndegwa urged women and youths to apply for the fund as it will go a long way in empowering them economically.
Hon Ndegwa addressing participants during the training
“Many people have been coming to my office asking about Uwezo Fund. This training will enable you to learn about the fund and we expect that you will also train other community members on how they can apply for the fund,” said Hon Ndegwa.
Hon Ndegwa noted that Uwezo Fund was started to help youths and women become self reliant. He urged people to apply for the fund in order to eliminate poverty in Sipili/Ol-Moran Ward.
The Uwezo Fund is a flagship programme for vision 2030 aimed at enabling women, youth and persons with disability access finances to promote businesses and enterprises at the constituency level.
Mr. Peter Kinyua, Laikipia West Uwezo Fund Chairman and also Salama Ward Uwezo Fund representative, noted that the fund seeks to expand access to finances and promote women, youth and persons living with disability led enterprises at the constituency level.
He said that Laikipia West Constituency has received Ksh 21.447 million. He informed participants that Uwezo Fund is interest free. He said that a three (3) percent administration fee is charged when the funds are disbursed to groups.
He said that Laikipia West has six (6) wards and each ward has Uwezo Fund representative. Members of parliament are patrons of the fund in constituencies while County women representatives represent Uwezo Fund at the County level.
”The minimum amount that groups can receive is Ksh 50,000 while the maximum amount is Ksh 500,000. Groups will have a grace period of six months before they start repaying the amount that they had received and the repayment period will last for two years,” said Mr. Kinyua.
Mr. Peter Kinyua addressing participants during the training
He said that for a group to qualify for funding they need to have a registration certificate, bank account, members ID photocopies, three (3) previous group minutes, list of members with ID numbers and Uwezo Fund certificate which will be issued by Uwezo Fund once the members have been trained.
He urged Laikipia West communities to collect application forms from Uwezo Fund Ward representatives.
He said that groups must be in existence for more than three (3) months in order to receive funding. Other areas that they look out for include; total contribution of group members, table banking and groups that have a business plan although they always train groups on business plan before funds are disbursed to them.
The objective for which the Fund was established include; To expand access to finances in promotion of youth and women businesses and enterprises at the constituency level for economic growth towards the realization of the goals of Vision 2030, to generate gainful self- employment for the youth and women and to model an alternative framework in funding community driven development.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Sipili WRUA developing sub management catchment plan

By Bob Aston
Sipili Water Resources Users Association (WRUA) in collaboration with Water Resources Management Authority (WRMA) and other stakeholders has started developing sub catchment management plan (SCMP). Through support from Tree Is Life Trust (TILT) the management committee of Sipili WRUA and WRMA held a meeting at Ng’arua Maarifa Centre on October 9, 2014 to introduce SCMP.
Speaking during the meeting, Joseph Maina, Chairman Sipili WRUA informed the management committee members that SCMP plan will outline priority activities that they will carry out as Sipili WRUA to improve the status of the catchment and water resources within Sipili Division.
He noted that SCMP is an approach that enables the involvement of stakeholders in planning and sustainable management of their water, land and related resources for improved livelihoods.
Sipili WRUA is planning to complete developing the SCMP before the end of this month. They are planning to organize weekly capacity building trainings for members in order for them to be able to develop an effective SCMP.
“WRUA provides an avenue for community participation in water resource management. That is why we are mobilizing and coordinating the participation of water users around the catchment area,” said Mr. Maina.
Mr. Maina noted that they have now started the process of identifying and analyzing issues related to water and the environment and the identification of the immediate and strategic interventions. They are also identifying activities and sub activities required to address the issues. He said that they will also agree on the time frame for implementation of activities.
He said that their objectives as Sipili WRUA include; promoting the protection and conservation of Sipili Dams boreholes, springs and shallow catchment area, promoting and exercising the sustainable use of water for approved purposes, carrying out surveillance of water use and quality within the catchment area, promoting water conservation practices to ensure sufficient water reserves and resolving water conflicts within the catchment area.
“We are trying to initiate projects that will ensure efficient use of our water and we are also lobbying and advocating for the protection of Sipili Catchment area,” said Mr. Maina
The SCMP reflects a set of activities designed to meet identified objectives to address water resource management problems within the Sipili sub catchment. It also provides a framework through which various stakeholders can collaborate towards improving the water resources in a particular catchment.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Community members receive energy savings jikos

By Bob Aston
Sipili Location Community Forest Association (CFA) and Sipili Water Resource Users Association (WRUA) members have started receiving energy savings jikos (Liners jikos). The ceremony which took place on October 6, 2014 at Ng’arua Maarifa Centre was an initiative of Sipili WRUA and Sipili Location CFA with support from Community Development Trust Fund (CDTF) through Lariak Forest Conservation Area Project.
The two (2) organizations are targeting to reach 100 members with each member getting two (2) energy saving jikos.
Lariak Forest Conservation Area project whose main aim is to preserve Lariak Forest, saw it fit to pilot the energy saving jikos as it would help them to achieve their main objective.
Speaking during the event Sipili WRUA Chairperson Joseph Maina who is also in charge of the Project implementation committee (PIC) talked of importance of the energy saving Jikos as it will reduce cutting down of trees as well as use of firewood.
Some of the members with their energy saving jikos
He stressed on the importance of reforestation as it helps to mitigate against global warming as well as building natural habitats and ecosystem.
“This jikos will result in fewer hazardous emissions than alternatives since most of the volatile material in the original biomass is consumed during the char-making process. The jikos can also last for more than 10 years thus it will be extremely cheap as the materials used to make them are locally available while its benefits are immense,” said Maina.
Sipili Location CFA location chairman Joseph Ndatho said that, forests and woodlands of Olive and Pencil Cedar once covered much of Laikipia County. Joseph said that forests in Laikipia are currently undergoing massive deforestation but the energy saving jikos will help to reduce that.
“We need to look at all means that can be used to reduce pressure in forests. This is just one of the ways that we are using to address the depletion of forest cover” said Joseph.
He added that the long-term sustainability of conservation efforts in Laikipia is linked to the environmental awareness of the youth.
Sipili Location CFA believes that this initiative will significantly reduce cutting down of trees. They are also teaching farmers to plant trees as well as encouraging those in forests to move out to enable trees to be planted.
The two groups decided on energy saving jikos as it uses less firewood; it enables the farmer to keep up to 50 chicks using the warmth from the firewood. The model jiko is raised up the ground, it keeps the kitchen clean and constructing the energy saving jiko is easy as it requires locally available products.

Monday, 6 October 2014

World prepares to mark World Food Day

By Bob Aston
As the world prepares to mark the World Food Day on October 16, 2014, the focus of world attention is increasingly shifting to the role of family farming in eradicating hunger and poverty. The 2014 World Food Day theme-Family Farming: “Feeding the world, caring for the earth” has been chosen to raise the profile of family farming and smallholder farmers.
The World Food Day was declared by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly to honor the date of the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in 1945. It aims to heighten public awareness of world food security and strengthen solidarity in the struggle against hunger, malnutrition and poverty.
The UN General Assembly has also designated 2014 as the “International Year of Family Farming (IYFF).” This is a strong signal that the international community recognizes the important contribution of family farmers to world food security.
A smallholder farmer admiring her tomatoes and cabbages
As the world will be marking the World Food Day, most farmers in Kenya will be counting losses and low yields this year. The below average rainfall which has been experienced in most parts of Kenya is set to affect food production in the Country.
Already the price of maize, the key staple food in the country has risen significantly this year, putting vulnerable households at increased food security risk. This has also been compounded by the spread of Maize Lethal Necrosis Disease (MLND).
The number of people requiring food assistance in the country has already risen to 15 percent. A long rains food security assessment recently released by the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) estimates that 1.5 million people are acutely food insecure and will require immediate food assistance over the next six months (September 2014 – February 2015).
To address food insecurity in the country the government needs to recognize the important role played by family farmers. Family farmers work to protect the soil, air, water, and biodiversity in addition to producing high-quality, healthy food for everyone.
This year the world attention has been shifted in increasing awareness and understanding of the challenges faced by smallholders as well as raising their profile by focusing attention on its role in alleviating hunger, poverty, providing food security and improving livelihoods, while protecting the environment and biodiversity.
Family and smallholder farming are inextricably linked to world food security. It is thus important to increase awareness and understanding of the challenges faced by smallholder farmers as well as helping in identifying efficient ways to support family farmers.