Animated Social Gadget - Blogger And Wordpress Tips

Friday, 18 December 2015

Reminiscing Nga’arua Maarifa Centre work in 2015

By Bob Aston
Established in 2007 by the Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN), Ng’arua Marifa Centre in Ol-Moran Ward at Laikipia West Sub County has been facilitating learning and skills transfer among communities embracing a culture of knowledge sharing.
The Maarifa Centre has been offering free services that include Library services, E-government services, multimedia content, internet access, citizen journalism training, ICT training, advisory services, publications like Baobab, Joto Afrika, and Laikipia Mali Asili, SOKO+ and Farm Records Management Information System (FARMIS-Kenya).
The Maarifa Centre has also hosted a Natural Resource Management (NRM) and Sustainable Land Management (SLM) knowledge sharing Mazingira Centre.
Beneficiaries of one of ALIN`s initiatives
This year more than 2,000 community members have benefited through various services at the Maarifa Centre. In addition, 721 farmers benefited through field days and workshops.
The Centre has been instrumental in sharing knowledge with farmers through organizing open learning days, exchange visits, outreach events, video documentations, and articles aimed at farmers and pastoralists.
The year at a glance
During the year, ALIN through the Maarifa Centre successfully completed the implementation of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Global Environment Facility (GEF) Small Grants Program (SGP) project titled: “Enhancing Communities’ Participation for effective Natural Resources management and Enhanced Resilience in Laikipia County.”
The project offered a platform for knowledge sharing between partners supported by UNDP under GEF SGP. The project saw the inception of Laikipia Mali Asili newsletter while 30 grantees and other partners received citizen journalism training.
The year also saw the successful completion of Climate Smart Agriculture project in Matwiku area. The project aimed to strengthen communities’ resilience to impacts of climate change while conserving natural resources in Laikipia County.
Members of Matwiku Horticulture Growers Self Help Group were capacity built on drip irrigation installation, water harvesting technologies, plant protection, harvesting, value addition, marketing and climate smart Agriculture.
ALIN through the Maarifa Centre also increased capacity-building support for Laikipia Produce and Marketing Cooperative Society during the year. The cooperative emerged from the work undertaken by ALIN with the support of the Ford Foundation’s Expanding Livelihoods for Poor Households Initiative (ELOPHI).
Three years down the line, the cooperative is among the fastest growing in Laikipia West Sub County and farmers have started benefiting through various services from the cooperative.
Strengthening maize, tree tomato, and tomato value chains has been a key achievement during the year. Through a participatory approach in 2013, farmers had identified the three value chains as the priority areas in the ward.
ALIN through the Maarifa Centre has held workshops and field days for farmers involved in the three value chains. Such forums have enabled them to enhance their production skills, share production, and marketing experiences, enhance systematic record keeping, and create linkages. Investing in the three value chains is an ideal way of promoting inclusive economic growth.
ALIN christmas card
In addition, the Maarifa Centre also collaborated with the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, MEA Ltd and Laikipia Produce and Marketing Cooperative Society in establishing five conservation agriculture demonstration plots.
Social media platforms reach
The Laikipia Rural Voices (LRV) and Ng’arua Maarifa Centre blogs have reached a wider audience this year. The blogs have been highlighting community local issues, development initiatives, farmer innovations, climate change adaptation, climate smart agriculture, natural resource management, successes, and issues faced by youths in agriculture, environmental conservation, and other livelihood issues.
Blog articles shared through LRV this year are 203 while articles shared through Ng’arua Marifa centre blog stands at 106 this year. Blog visitors now stand at 119,104 and 82,464 for LRV and Ng’arua Maarifa Centre blog respectively.
Some messages received through the various social media channels have really been uplifting. Such responses show that many people appreciate what the Maarifa has been doing.
“I am impressed by the work you are doing to help improve the livelihood of my people in Laikipia West. I am always enlightened as a resident and as a professional based so many miles away from home,” said Steve Kamario.
Special thanks go to all the partners, blog readers as well as community members who have been contributing articles and helped make 2015 an intense year.
These being the last blog post in 2015, ALIN through Ng’arua Maarifa Centre would like to wish all their readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May this year’s Christmas end the present year on a cheerful note and make way for a fresh and bright new year.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Climate Change portal: Bridging information gap in Kenya

By Bob Aston
 Climate change and climate variability pose major threats to the environment, to economic growth and to sustainable development of Kenya. Rise in temperature, decreasing rainfall trends, frequent flooding, and prolonged droughts are clear signals of the effect of Climate Change.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world’s greenhouse gas emissions are continuing to increase and on the present path, global average temperature rise will exceed the goal to limit well below 2 °C above preindustrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C.
A screen shot of the climate change portal

Despite this, access to climate change information has not been easy in the country. In most cases information provided through various forums has at times been inaccurate. 

At the same time most organizations dealing with climate change adaptation rarely share information on what they do or adaptation mechanisms.
Kenya has now addressed such constraints by developing a climate Change portal. The Kenyan Climate Change Portal is a one-stop repository of climate change information.
The virtual online platform has provided and shared data and information related to climate change thus encouraging cooperation and informed decision making by both the national and county governments as well as private sector players and farmers. It has also showcased initiatives by different organizations.
In essence, it can now be the first point of call for basic climate change and related information. Widespread access of the portal can go a long way in helping communities in the country understand what climate change is as well as mitigating measures. This will ensure that the country has played its part in informing the public on climate change.
The Climate Change portal is an initiative of the Low Emission and Climate Resilient Development (LECRD) Project which aims to contribute to Kenya’s overall goal in achieving transformative development, accelerating sustainable climate resilient economic growth while slowing down Green House Gas emissions.
This is particularly important as Kenya is among the 195 countries that agreed on a comprehensive climate change deal that seeks to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial revolution levels and to try for 1.5-degree Celsius if possible.
Through the portal, Kenyan’s can find data related to climate change adaptation, climate change finance, policies and strategies and low emission development action as well as capacity building. One can also access information about various initiatives by both the government and other organizations related to climate change.
The LECRD Project, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and implemented through The Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Regional Development Authorities (MENRRDA), aims at; supporting Kenya’s efforts to pursue long-term, transformative development as well as accelerate sustainable climate resilient economic growth, while slowing the growth of greenhouse gas emissions.
The 3 (three) year project will contribute towards the implementation of the Kenya’s National Climate Change Action Plan (2013- 2017) which has the overarching goal of enhancing low carbon climate resilient development outlined in Kenya’s economic blueprint, Vision 2030.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Strengthening environmental resilience and social inclusion in Maize production

By Bob Aston

The Agricultural Sector Development Support Programme (ASDSP)-Laikipia, held a Maize Value Chain Platform workshop on December 9, 2015 at Olympia Hotel in Nyahururu to sensitize the members about the second concept note titled:” Promotion of environmentally resilient and socially inclusive maize production, post harvesting and marketing through Strengthening of Institutions in Laikipia County.”
The concept note that is being implemented during the 2015-2016 financial year aims to lay more emphasis on promoting environmental resilience for value chain actors including vulnerable groups as well as creating awareness, knowledge and appreciation of natural resources management and climate change are important aspects in ensuring a food secure country.
Farmers admiring maize in a maize field
Mr. Bob Aston from Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) noted that the main objective of the concept note include: Increasing adoption of climate smart production technologies through use of adaptable seeds, soil fertility analysis and integrated pest management; improving maize marketing organization and linkages; increasing accessibility to investment capital; and increasing accessibility to market information.
He said that maize value chain platform in Laikipia County ranked post-harvest loss, poor quality, and high cost of input, low soil fertility, limited access to information, low adoption of appropriate technology and limited accessibility to financial services among others as a priority constraint and thus the development of the concept note.
“Various constraints identified in the Maize Action plan, ASDSP county brochure, maize baseline survey, gender and social inclusion action plan and strategic environmental assessment report played a huge role in coming up with the concept note,” said Mr. Aston.
He said that the concept note also aims to address weak market organization and linkages through business forums between private sector actors, agro producers, agro wholesalers, and agro retailers.
Another important aspect in the concept note is linking women with financial institutions for advice on existing grants and credit facilities.
He said that selected youth groups would benefit through training on existing market platforms for proper integration in the value chain. Maize Value chain groups will benefit through training on development of business plans, entrepreneurship, stakeholders engagement, market linkages, and market specification.
He said that expected beneficiaries are 28 agro-producer groups, 6 agro wholesalers, 1 youth agro-transporter group, 5 agro-input suppliers, and 15 agro-retailers.
Partners and collaborators like ASDSP, Netherlands Development Organization (SNV), ALIN, Eastern African Grain Council (EAGC), Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Fisheries, African Conservation Tillage (ACT) Network, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations-Laikipia, Equity Bank, Laikipia Maize Value Chain Development Network among others are overseeing implementation of the concept note.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Laikipia Maize Value Chain groups plan on sustainability

By Bob Aston
 The Agricultural Sector Development Support Programme (ASDSP)-Laikipia, held aworkshop for 33 maize value chain groups drawn from Laikipia West Sub County on December 8, 2015 at Olympia Hotel in Nyahururu.
The main aim of the workshop was to discuss the sustainability of the groups and particularly Laikipia Maize Value Chain Development Network. Established in 2015, the Umbrella organization is a network of 43 maize Value Chain Groups drawn from Ol-Moran, Igwamiti, Githiga, Salama, Marmanet and Rumuruti wards.
Laikipia maize value chain development network members following the workshop
Representatives from Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Eastern African Grain Council (EAGC), Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN), and Jabali Millers also attended the workshop.
Mrs. Jane Kirimi, ASDSP noted that the Umbrella body and the value chain groups must come up with ways of sustaining themselves as the first ASDSP phase would end in December 2016.
She said that strengthening the various structures and organizations established in 2014 and 2015 would play a critical role in ensuring the sustainability of the various institutions.
“ASDSP and other stakeholders will continue to facilitate market linkages between the umbrella organization and other structured market to ensure smallholder farmers benefit through such initiatives,” said Mrs. Kirimi.
She urged the groups to adopt sustainability strategies like bulking of maize for common marketing, construction of group stores, resource mobilization through table banking, enhancing linkages with financial institutions to promote commercialization, and embracing cost sharing among others.
Similarly, Mr. Waweru Kanja, Chairman, Laikipia Maize Value Chain Development Network noted that the umbrella maize organization will continue to play a big role in improving organization and co-ordination of the maize value chain in Laikipia County as well as championing the collective interests of the value chain players.
He said that benefits of farmer groups joining the umbrella organization include marketing of maize on behalf of the maize value chain groups, capacity building for farmers and their value chain leaders, bulking and aggregation of maize for market and bulk purchase of agro-inputs.
Others include coordination of maize farmers for better penetration of markets and bargaining power, lobbying for more funds from County, National government as well as other institutions, bargaining and advocacy on behalf of the value chain groups and support to farmers for improved production.
“We are laying a lot of emphasis in ensuring farmers are able to access school market in the government led home grown school feeding programme,” said Mr. Kanja.
The broad objective of the Maize Value Chain in Laikipia County is to enhance viable and equitable commercialization of the maize value chain.

Monday, 14 December 2015

Gender bias may limit uptake of climate-smart farm practices

By Julie Mollins, CIMMYT
Farmer education programs that fail to address traditional gender roles may sideline women, limiting their use of conservation agriculture techniques, which can boost their ability to adapt to climate change, a new research shows.
Conservation agriculture involves minimal soil disturbance, permanent soil cover, and the use of crop rotation to simultaneously maintain and boost yields, increase profits and protect the environment. It contributes to improved soil function and quality, which can improve resilience to climate variability.
Although some scientists believe that, such techniques have the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase carbon sequestration, which can help mitigate the impact of global warming.
 It is important to note that  the potential benefits of certain aspects of conservation agriculture -- particularly not tilling the soil -- have been overstated, write the authors of the study from the International Center for Maize and Wheat Improvement (CIMMYT) and the Research Program on Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS).
Smallholder farmer prepares maize plot for planting in Embu,Kenya.CIMMTY/file
Titled “Gender and conservation agriculture in east and southern Africa: towards a research agenda,” the paper discusses the lack of research conducted into interactions between conservation agriculture use and gender.  
It proposes a research agenda that will better understand how African farming systems remain strongly stratified by gender.

Despite an increase of women smallholder farmers throughout sub-Saharan Africa – one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change worldwide – agricultural service suppliers and policymakers remain “locked into the conceptual norm of the primary farmer as male,” said co-author Clare Stirling, a senior scientist in the Sustainable Intensification Program at CIMMYT.

“The ability of women-led households, or male-headed households with women as primary farmers, to adopt conservation agriculture may be compromised if government policies, extension systems and other actors continue to design interventions and target information and training around the conceptual norm of the male-headed household,” Stirling said, adding that a gender-sensitive approach should become part of mainstream research.
“Overall, normative conceptualizations of ‘farmers’ can result in inappropriate targeting and ineffective messaging,” she said.
There is almost no understanding of how gender relations in smallholder agriculture – particularly with regard to decision-making over technology adoption, roles and responsibilities for specific farm tasks – may influence the likelihood of adopting conservation agriculture techniques, the paper states.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Exploring the maize value chain in Laikipia County

By Bob Aston
Maize is among the staple food in Kenya but statistics indicate that production across the country has been steadily declining as many farmers opt to diversify and cultivate other types of crops.
In a good year, the whole of Laikipia County usually realize 1.5 million bags of maize. Communities in the county consume 500,000 bags while farmers sell the surplus. As of December 9, 2015, the county had only realized 785,466 bags of maize.
Farmers at a field day
Mr. James Kamau, Ol-Moran Ward Agriculture officer noted that land under maize cultivation in Ol-Moran Ward has been increasing while production has been declining over the years. The same applies across the county.
Farmers in the county face challenges like high input cost,  frequent drought, substandard inputs, low soil fertility, human-wildlife conflict, lack of access to appropriate information, difficulty in accessing credit facilities, high cost of unskilled labour, pests and diseases, and high post-harvest losses.
To ensure that maize farmers improve their income stream, there is need to enhance coordination of the maize value chain in order to champion the collective interest of the value chain actors.
Why value chain approach is the way to go
The value chain approach enables various actors in the value chain to create a competitive value chain hence contributing to inclusive economic growth. It allows the identification of specific advantage points a long a chain, reducing the average cost per unit by increasing the number of units produced.
Value chain approach builds internal capacity to address value chain constraints. A strong value chain facilitates access to inputs, improves access to financial services, enhances flow of information, ensures improved market access for farmers, and promotes value addition.
It offers an opportunity to expand the financing opportunities for agriculture, improve efficiency and repayments in financing, and consolidate value chain linkages among participants in the chain.
It also seeks to understand the business, risk tolerance level, environmental factors, and other such non-financial determinants.Farmers understand consumers’ needs and vice versa thus rather than focusing profit on one or two links all the actors in the value chain benefits.
Maize value Chain training
Farmer training on value chain approach is important in ensuring that they play an active role and they realize higher income. Many organizations have been at the forefront of ensuring farmers are capacity built on the issue.
In Laikipia County, the Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) through Ng’arua Maarifa Centre in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Fisheries held a two-day workshop on Maize Value Chain at Olivia Court Motel, Sipili in Laikipia West Sub County on November 25-26, 2015.
A total of 85 farmers drawn from Ol-Moran Ward attended the workshop.  Its aim was to enhance farmer’s production skills on maize value chain, to share production and marketing experiences, to enhance systematic record keeping by maize farmers, to improve cereals aggregation and to reduce post-harvest grain losses.
Such trainings usually go a long way in empowering farmers and equipping them with necessary skills and information that can help them tap into various opportunities available in the value chain.
What is next after the value chain training?
Mr. Albert Kariuki, a maize farmer from Kabati has been getting an average of 18 bags in a three-acre farm. He noted that the workshop enriched his knowledge on maize farming particularly on soil analysis.
He said that he has been using fertilizer without knowing the required amount, as he has not analyzed his soil. This has always resulted to low yields. He is now planning to follow up on the issue to ensure that come next year he will be aware of his plant nutrient requirements and management.

"Determining genuine and licensed dealers of genuine seeds have been a problem for many farmers. Many profit oriented trders have been seling fake maize seeds to ususpecting farmers," said Mr. Kariuki.
Mrs. Rahab Wanjiku has been cultivating maize in a 5-acre piece of land. She noted that learning about maize production practices and management enabled her to realize that thinning is important in realizing the right plant population per acre thus improving her yields.
Rahab used to plant more than three seeds per hole. This used to lead to poor growth due to competition for vital nutrients.
Farmers being trained on receipt warehousing system
She said that she did not know that she could practice rouging as an effective way of disease and pest control method at early stages of infestation, which would in return save her money, which she would have used to purchase fungicides and pesticides as well.  
Mr. Joseph Ngundi, a member of Sipili Cereal Bank said that he has not been keeping farm records. Knowing whether he has been making a profit or loss has been a problem.
He said that learning about record keeping systems like Farm Records Management Information System (FARMIS-Kenya) enlightened him and he now understands the importance of record keeping as an important tool in agribusiness.
He said that it would now be easier to know profitable enterprises and the ones “eating” into his profit margin.
Mr. Ngundi said that as a member of Sipili Cereal Bank the training on Warehousing Receipting System (WRS) was of immense benefit to them, as they now know certification requirements.
He appreciated the fact that once they receive certification, farmers will be able to access bank loans with ease without having to sell their cereals in the warehouse until the price improves. 

"Warehousing receipting system will greatly help farmers to have bargaining power and sell maize at high prices to the milers and schools without middlemen making huge profit out of the poor maize farmers," said Mr. Ngundi.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Kenya opts to green its economy

By Charles Mutai and Herman Kwoba
Transitioning to a green economy means contributing to eradicating poverty as well as sustained economic growth, enhancing social inclusion, improving human welfare and creating opportunities for employment and decent work for all, while maintaining the healthy functioning of the Earth’s ecosystems.
A green economy, in the Kenyan context refers to a shift towards a development path that promotes resource efficiency and sustainable management of natural resources, social inclusion, resilience, and sustainable infrastructure development.
Kenya’s key policies and programmes that are supportive of a green economy include: investments in renewable energy; promotion of resource-efficient and cleaner production; environmental planning and governance; and restoration of forest ecosystems.
The Kenya Green Economy Assessment Report (2014) indicated that Kenya is implementing various Green Economy initiatives and policies such as investment in renewable energy, promotion of sustainable production and consumption, pollution control and waste management, and environmental planning and governance.
Greening scenarios - which is based on Kenya-Threshold 21 (T21) model – show that a transition to green economy has positive impacts in the medium and long term across all the sectors of the economy.
Demonstration of a solar cooker at Jamhuri Energy Centre. Noah Lusaka/ALIN
The T21 Model is a uniquely customized planning tool for the long-term integrated development planning as well as carrying out scenario analyses of adaptation options under uncertainty in Kenya. 
The Model allows the cost of adaptation to be quantified, which is a pre-requirement for attracting much needed financing for adaptation.
The Kenya Green Economy Assessment Report (2014) underscores that green growth has the potential to build a transformative development pathway that will create green jobs, accelerate poverty reduction, support sustainable growth, and restore environmental health and quality as a foundation for future prosperity and well-being.
In this context, the development of a national Green Economy Strategy and Implementation Plan (GESIP) is almost finalized. The GESIP process is undertaken in collaboration with strategic partners; United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), African Development Bank (AfDB), World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).
Multi-stakeholder and multi-sectoral consultations have being held at the national and county levels. GESIP focuses on the promotion of resource efficiency, sustainable management of natural resources, social inclusion, building resilience, and sustainable infrastructure development.
Enabling conditions for Green Growth/ Economy in Kenya include Vision 2030 (implemented through five-year Medium Term Plans). Vison 2030 is Kenya’s long-term development blueprint which aims to transform the country into “a newly industrialized, middle-income country, providing a high quality of life to all its citizens in a clean and secure environment” by 2030.
The Constitution of Kenya 2010; Article 42, recognizes a healthy environment as a right and calls for “sustainable exploitation, utilization, management and conservation of the environment and natural resources.”
Green investments and innovation in Kenya are driven mainly by renewable energy, resource efficient and clean technologies, sustainable consumption, and production. Fiscal policies and leveraging international support are crucial in the implementation of the Green Economy Strategy.
Charles Mutai (PhD) is the Deputy Director of Climate Change Secretariat. E-mail Herman Kwoba is the national Coordinator Green Economy Transition Africa. E-mail
Source: Joto Afrika. Download a copy here

Monday, 7 December 2015

Pastoralism can pay - but you would not know it

By Megan Rowling, BRACED
Pastoralists know markets well, but markets do not know much about pastoralists - and that is one reason it can be hard for businesses to expand into dryland areas in East and West Africa, to offer their goods and services to livestock herders.
Researchers and organization’s working to expand income options for pastoralist communities - who are struggling to deal with growing climate change impacts like drought - are gaining a better grasp of these remote rural economies.
However, decades of neglect by policymakers and under-development mean it is not easy for the private sector to open up new markets in the pastoralist regions of northern Kenya or eastern Ethiopia.
"There are high barriers to entry," said Chloe Stull-Lane a consultant with the Kenya Markets Trust, which is helping animal health and insurance companies, among others, expand into pastoralist areas.
One major problem is a lack of education, with herding communities’ generally scoring low on basic development indicators.
"Levels of education need to increase," Stull-Lane told a discussion on pastoralist economies at Development & Climate Days on the sidelines of U.N. climate talks.
Samburu tribesmen during Marala Camel Derby,Kenya.REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic
Higher literacy would enable companies to provide information to potential clients and market themselves more easily. "Pastoralists haven't been very exposed to products and services," she added.

For companies wanting to offer financial and veterinary services, or start up livestock-related industries such as meat or dairy processing, it can be a challenge to find local staff with the right skills, so training requirements are high.
The Kenya Markets Trust is working with researchers, businesses, and policymakers through programmes funded by the British government and other donors to analyse and find solutions to the obstacles, and create market opportunities linked to the livestock industry.

For example, Stull-Lane said it was initially difficult to persuade an animal health firm and an insurance company to combine their distribution channels, to reduce costs and reach more people. However, three years on, they have followed the advice and sales have expanded fast.

In addition, there are people with money to spend in pastoralist regions. Achiba Gargule, a researcher at Bern University who comes from a pastoralist family, said it was a myth that all pastoralists are poor.
Many are, but some are wealthy thanks to large herds or working as middlemen between herders and markets, he said.

Climate action plans of poorest nations to cost $1 trillion

By Megan Rowling
PARIS - The world's 48 poorest countries will need to find around a trillion dollars between 2020 and 2030 to achieve their plans to tackle climate change - and those plans should be a priority for international funding, researchers said.
Estimates based on plans submitted by the least-developed countries (LDCs) toward a new U.N. deal to curb global warming show they will cost around $93.7 billion a year from 2020, when an agreement expected to be ironed out in Paris over the next two weeks is due to take effect.
That includes $53.8 billion annually to reduce emissions and $39.9 billion to deal with more extreme weather and rising seas, according to a report from the London-based International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED).
IIED Director Andrew Norton said the least-developed countries currently get less than a third of all international climate funding provided by wealthy governments.
"A fair and effective deal at Paris should prioritise the investment of international public climate finance for this group to implement their climate action plans, while agreeing measures to help better-off countries attract private climate finance," he said in a statement.
The least-developed countries - from Ethiopia to Zambia, and Yemen and Pacific island nations - are home to some of the poorest communities who are suffering the worst impacts of intensifying droughts, floods, storms and crumbling coastlines.
Yet they produce just a tiny fraction of the planet-warming gases that drive climate change.
Adama wind farm,Addis Ababa,Ethiopia.REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri
Such countries have a widespread lack of resources and expertise to tackle climate change. However, nearly all have produced so-called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) to a new global climate deal.
These plans set out how they will curb their emissions from 2020 - by shifting to renewable power sources, such as solar, or building cleaner public transport, for example.
They also outline what countries need to do to help their people live better with climate change impacts. In some cases, they say how much all this action will cost.
The IIED report noted that three countries - Burkina Faso, Djibouti, and Zambia - are showing "extraordinary commitment" by aiming to find more finance within their borders than beyond them.
"Even so, all LDCs agree that fulfilling their INDCs cannot be done without a significant contribution from international climate finance, whether it be public or private," it said.
The least-developed countries "cannot hope to implement their INDCs quickly enough alone", it added.
The countries will require technology sharing and help to build their capacity, as well as investment capital, particularly for high start-up costs. Much of the money must come from international sources, the report said.
On Monday, 11 donor governments pledged close to $250 million in new money for adaptation in the poorest countries at the start of the U.N. climate talks.
Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Sweden, Switzerland, Britain, and the United States announced contributions to a climate fund for the least-developed countries hosted by the Global Environment Facility (GEF).
It had been struggling to finance projects due to a lack of new support.
"We know that many billions are required over the next few years to fill the gap in climate finance, but the money pledged today is vital to help some of the most vulnerable people on the planet cope with the immediate impacts of our rapidly warming world," said GEF head Naoko Ishii.

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Simba Corporation holds SAME tractors open day for recently acquired franchise

By Naomi Mueni
Naivasha December 3rd 2015. Simba Corporation’s Agriculture Division today held a tractor demonstration and open day for its recently acquired SAME tractors franchise. Beginning on May 1, 2015, Simba Corp is now the new and exclusive distributor of SAME tractors and OTMA farming implements in Kenya.
The company got into the tractor business to take over the Kenyan dealership of SAME Deutz-Fahr, an Italian manufacturer of agricultural equipment.
Mr. Adil Popat (Right),SAME Chairman (Left) and John Chemono(tractor winner)
“Our entry into the Agriculture sector was informed by our commitment to enhance agriculture and farming mechanization in Kenya. Agriculture remains a crucial backbone of Kenya’s economy.” said Simba Corporation CEO, Adil Popat during the SAME open day event.

“We are excited to have a chance to contribute to the country’s most important industry – agriculture- through the Simba Corp Agricultural Division. We will spare no expense to ensure SAME Tractor owners enjoy world class services across our network,” he added.
The firm has laid out an elaborate market penetration strategy as part of its business development efforts. The newly created Simba Corp Agricultural Division allows SAME to offer nationwide service; genuine spare parts; a broad distribution network and tractor tracking solutions.
Also commenting during the launch, Simba Corp Agricultural Division Brand Manager, Robin Schalch said, “Our models are built with simplicity of design, unsurpassed reliability, outstanding fuel economy, and minimal maintenance requirements.”
In a bid to meet the demands of new and existing customers, Simba Corp has set-up a fully-fledged after sales operation.
It consists of a genuine spare parts center and nationwide mobile service coverage. The SAME Genuine Spare Parts Centre features a stockholding capacity of more than 5,000 line items of genuine manufacturer parts.
Mr. Adil Popat and Mr. Nick Keeley trying out one of the tractors
Simba Corp Agriculture Division will provide backup support for SAME through Simba’s branches in Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu and Kisii, nationwide mobile service workshops as well as an extensive dealer network across the country for customers’ convenience.
Offering a versatile range of tractors for use in the open field, fruit orchards and vineyards, SAME tractors are engineered to increase power and efficiency while ensuring excellent cutting performance.
The tractors are built tough enough to handle long days of dedicated landscaping with ease and with a perfect balance of performance, efficiency, and comfort.
Founded in 1948 by the late Mr. Abdul Karim Popat as a modest used-car selling enterprise, the Nairobi-headquartered Simba Corporation has grown into a large integrated multi-sector business services group representing international brands and franchises such as Mitsubishi, FUSO, BMW, Mahindra, Renault, Geely, AVIS, SAME tractors and AKSA generators.
Simba's hospitality properties include the Olare Mara and Villa Rosa managed by world leading hoteliers, Kempinski, as well as Acacia Premier Kisumu. For more information, please visit

Friday, 4 December 2015

Kenya is taking bold steps to combat climate change

By Alex Awiti
Climate change describes larger than normal variability in weather and climate parameters, especially rainfall and temperature. Critics have debated the cause of climate change. However, the time for debate is long past. Unless we act more proactively, hundreds of millions of people will face more drought, more floods, more hunger, and more conflict.
That is why Kenya is not waiting. Kenya is taking bold adaptation and mitigation actions to combat the impacts of climate change. Climate change is reducing grain yields and causing food prices to rise steeply, especially in Africa.
Lower grain yields and food price spikes could lead to a 20 percent rise in malnutrition among children in Africa. Variable rainfall patterns are likely to constrain fresh water supply, compromising hygiene and increasing the risk of water-borne diseases, which kill over 2.2 million mostly children under five years of age in Asia and Africa.
Climate change is creating the perfect storm, with pandemics invigorated by warmer climate, water scarcity, hunger and malnutrition, and changes in disease vector ecology.
Climate Smart Agriculture project in Kajiado,Kenya.PHOTO:Noah Lusaka/ALIN
According to World Health Organisation (WHO), the direct cost to health, excluding costs in agriculture, water and sanitation, is projected to reach $2-4 billion annually by 2030. 
The World Bank estimates that $75 billion will be needed annually to deal with the impacts of climate change such as tropical diseases, decline in agricultural productivity and damage to infrastructure owing to sea-level rise.
Climate change is an existential threat to “Our Common Future”, which requires much greater responsibility at individual, community, national and global levels to return our planet on a path of equitable and sustainable development.
This special issue of Joto Afrika for the 21st Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) presents a collection of articles, which demonstrate Kenya’s commitment and leadership in addressing the impacts of climate change.
The Government of Kenya understands its obligation to both its citizens and the community of nations with respect to taking decisive and appropriate measures that contributes to abating Greenhouse gas emissions, as well as enhancing resilience to the climate change impacts. Through its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC), Kenya has embraced a low emission and climate resilient development strategy.
Kenya understands that the time to act is now. The country is in the process of finalizing its Climate Change Bill 2014 and the Climate Change Policy Framework.
These provide a legal and institutional framework for mitigation and adaption to the effects of climate change; coordination mechanism for formulation of programs and plans to enhance the resilience of human and ecological systems against the impacts of climate change; measuring, verification and reporting of climate interventions; guidance and measures to achieve low carbon climate resilient development.
Moreover, initiatives such as investments in geothermal energy generation, establishment of a sub-national adaptation fund (County Climate Change Fund), building a national greenhouse inventory to estimate emissions and removals from land based activities and the wide use of solar lanterns and cook stoves, in Narok and Samburu, demonstrates that the Country understands the urgent need for decisive action.
As the world converge in Paris at COP21, it is probable that there will not a definite global deal. However, I think we all have a moral obligation as citizens of the world to act responsibly and preserve the planet for posterity. COP21 must be about you and I, our communities and what our nations can do to curb global warming.
Download a copy of the special edition of Joto Afrika here
Alex O. Awiti, PhD Director, East African Institute of the Aga Khan University

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Good agricultural practices key in ensuring profitable maize farming

By Bob Aston
 Adopting good agricultural practices is key in ensuring farmers make profit in maize production. Speaking during a two day Maize Value Chain Workshop at Olivia Court Motel in Sipili, Laikipia West Sub County on November 25-26, 2015, Mr. Moses Lokwawi, Ol-Moran Ward Crops Officer noted that farmers who harvest less than 15 bags per acre rarely make a profit.
Mr. Moses Lokwawi from ministry of Agriculture livestock and fisheries addressing farmers
He noted that land under maize cultivation in Ol-Moran Ward has been increasing while production has been declining over the years. During a farmer’s discussion session, participants noted that they are harvesting an average of 10 - 18 bags per acre. 
He said that the gross margin on maize does not auger well for farmers who harvest few bags, as they will realize losses unless they adopt best agricultural practices particularly during land preparation, soil and water conservation, planting and crop husbandry and post-harvest management.
“Sustainable practices and activities carried out in and off farm in crop production ensures the right quality and safety of food produce. This calls for responsible and ethical production and marketing of agricultural produce,” said Mr. Lokwawi.
He noted that land under maize production in 2005 was 2,100 acres and farmers managed to harvest 79,800 bags while this year 2015 with 4,970 acres under maize production farmers  managed to harvest 93,441 bags.
He noted that in a good year the whole of Laikipia County usually realize 1. 5 million bags of maize. Communities in the county consume 500,000 bags while farmers sell the surplus. He noted that the rise in cost of production calls for reduction in mechanical tillage and labour cost, which is possible through adoption of conservation agriculture.
He implored farmers to embrace record keeping and particularly Farm Records Management Information System (FARMIS-Kenya) as they are able to know at the end of a season whether they have made a profit or loss and to help in decision making particularly when deciding on which enterprise is more profitable.
Mr. James Kamau, Ol-Moran Ward Agriculture officer noted that soil fertility is lost through waterlogging, use of synthetic  pesticides, excessive use of DAP fertilizer which reduces the rate of organic matter decomposition, and burning of crop residue.
He urged farmers to use the recommended hybrid seeds like H600 series, H511, H513, H515, H517, H520, Pioneer 30G19, pan 67, Faida, Duma, and Katumani Composite.
Mr. James Kamau from ministry of Agriculture livestock and fisheries
The farmers were also encouraged to make use of the AgroZ and Purdue Improved Crop Storage (PICS) bags, which do not require use of chemicals before storing cereals. The bags are currently retailing at Ksh250 each.
Farmers learned the importance of investing in modern storage facilities like the household metallic silos as a solution to high maize postharvest losses caused by the maize weevil and large grain borer that are major destructive pests of stored maize.
A total of 85 farmers drawn from Ol-Moran Ward attended the workshop.  Its aim was to enhance farmer’s production skills on maize value chain, to share production and marketing experiences, to enhance systematic record keeping by maize farmers, to improve cereals aggregation and to reduce post-harvest grain losses.
The Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) through Ng’arua Maarifa Centre in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Fisheries organized the workshop.

Laikipia cooperative receives a maize sheller

By Bob Aston
The Laikipia Produce and Marketing Co-operative Society on November 25, 2015 received a maize sheller from the Eastern African Grain Council (EAGC). Representative from Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) witnessed the handover by EAGC at the cooperative store in Sipili town, Ol-Moran Ward.
The EAGC support is towards enhancing the capacity of the cooperative towards managing members and other smallholder farmer’s cereal produce during shelling.
The support is also towards ensuring that the cooperative becomes a village aggregation centre. This will enable the cooperative to buy cereals in bulk from members and then distribute and sell them to schools and other structured markets.
Maize sheller donated by East African Grain Council
Speaking during the handover, Mr. Kipyegon Kipkemei from EAGC urged the group to utilize the equipment by doing business with it and ensuring members of the cooperative are the ultimate beneficiaries.
“The maize sheller will be co-owned between the cooperative and EAGC for a period of three years. After that duration, we will decide whether to leave it to the cooperative or give it to another group,” said Mr. Kipyegon.
The maize sheller is worth Kshs. 65,000. It has a capacity of 6.5-horse power and can therefore shell 20-25 bags per hour. The tank can hold 3 litres of petrol. Other beneficiaries included Ndurumo Cereal Bank, Sipili Cereal Bank, Ol-Moran Cereal Bank and Muhotetu Grain Bank.
Shelling is an important post-harvest activity in maize as it reduces post-harvest losses. Use of shelling machine reduces breakage of cereals and deterioration, as it is faster.
Formed in 2013, the cooperative emerged from the work undertaken by ALIN through Ng’arua Maarifa Centre with the support of the Ford Foundation’s Expanding Livelihoods for Poor Households Initiative (ELOPHI).
Its mandate is mainly to aggregate the farming communities by pooling them together and empowering them to take control of their farm’s enterprises, aggregation of farm produce and collective marketing to enhance their bargaining power and profit margins.