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Shamba – Garden in Africa (detailed description)

Afroho’s agricultural project in Kowuor

 

We would like to implement an agricultural project in Kowuor as a joint effort of Afroho, Sare SEEP and Mon jardin! from the beginning of April 2016 to educate local citizens on new agricultural production methods and growing edible plants currently unknown to the local community.

 

The project is a so-called pilot project and it is intended to lay the foundations of an Afroho – Mon jardin! long-term gastro-botanic cooperation with the objective to grow plants and implement agricultural methods in the Kowuor area that have proven their feasibility in Mon jardin!’s project in the Kenyan settlement of Bura. With the implementation of effective production methods and the cultivation of high-produce, drought-tolerant plant species we can and would like to improve the local people’s food supply. At the same time agricultural work offers a potential revenue source for the locals as a result their general welfare and quality of life improves as well.

The joint effort is also a great opportunity to test the possibility of a regional rollout of our project experience acquired in Bura and to explore options for their broad-range implementation. On the one hand we may explore how the species and methods used in the Bura project are applicable to a geographically and environmentally different area while on the other hand we may obtain valuable experience on the merits of this agricultural approach in Africa, i.e. to what extent can we make our approach successful among African people who have a significantly different mentality compared to Europeans.

 

In later phases of the project we rollout proven solutions in a broader scope and educate locals to spread environment-friendly technologies in Africa.

The main objective of the project is to promote effective methodologies and high-produce plants in the broadest possible circle in Kenya thereby supporting the modernization of local agriculture while keeping its family-farming features and focusing on environment protection.

 

Project background

 

Due to the location and proximity of the Victoria Lake the people of Kowuor traditionally work as fisherman. However, the decline of the fishing industry caused significant economic problems and there are only few and low paying jobs in the region. There is no electricity in the village (in many households they still use paraffin lamps) and there no water utility either (there are several drilled wells and people normally transport water on foot, by bicycle or donkeys).

In general people eat little and have very plain dietary habits that severely impact their health. With a more varied diet and higher energy-, nutrient-, and vitamin intake the health and welfare of local citizens could be improved as well as their children’s performance at school. Local people cultivate their land and the majority of families does farming work but only produce some basic plants – corn, beans, cabbage, groundnut, manioc or sweet potato. Some also have domestic animals (mainly cows, goats and poultry) but high-volume livestock farming is nonexistent.

Weather conditions would be suitable for farming because in the countryside (similarly to other areas of Kenya) there are two rainy and two dry seasons per year so in ideal circumstances people could harvest twice a year. However, the weather is unpredictable, and sometimes drought destroys the crops and puts the livestock in danger.

 

People in Kowuor and the surrounding area are traditionally not farmers. There are some who have gardens around their homes but their efforts are ineffective and they disregard environment protection considerations. They mainly produce corn, beans, groundnut, manioc, savoy cabbage (or rather a local fodder variant of cabbage).

The yield heavily depends on the weather (much more than usual) and they do not use effective conservation methods. Corn, beans, groundnut are dried and stored in sacks and frequently go off, if not, they require long cooking time which is time and energy consuming. (The latter is an especially huge problem because the only energy source is wood and charcoal and the excessive use of these resources already causes significant environment protection issues).

People cannot conserve fruits – if they have any – and purchase jam in shops in plastic or metal packaging that raises general waste management problems.

There also very poor families the majority of which can hardly get hold of a minimum supply of food. Many try to make a living on producing charcoal that significantly reduces the size of forests and multiplies the negative impact of climate change.

 

Based on the expert opinion of our partner – Mon jardin! – one can generally state that African agriculture uses technologies that have been long ago outdated by Western European or Hungarian standards. As a result of global commerce most foodstuffs products – that are known to us, Europeans – are available in cities but importing on the one hand is an insufficient source of quality and affordable consumer goods and on the other hand the entire food demand cannot be fulfilled from imported goods.

The so far known – partially American – species and their variants grown in Kenya and Africa do not yield a sufficient amount of nutritious food and require special climate, i.e. can not be produced just anywhere. (A recent example is the famine in Malawi where corn was washed away by floods and as a result of the destruction no other plant could replace the crops – in spite that they had other plants and species with shortened yield period that could have supplied food on such emergency situations.)

At the same time leveraging the results of agricultural research and environment friendly production technologies there are plants and species that can be produced almost anywhere – with the exception of very dry deserts – with lower exposure and better nutrition features.

 

Based on our experience the chances of producing the necessary amount of food with outdated agricultural technologies, low-yield plants in local family farms are very slim. On top of this the technologies currently used in Kenya do not take into account modern, environment friendly considerations. Although Kenyan food production comes from small family farms they do not pay enough attention to the nutrient replenishment of the soil nor to water-saving irrigation technologies.

 

As a result of Mon jardin!’s efforts in Kenya new production technologies were developed with the use of which higher produce can be achieved under adverse weather conditions (e.g. areas with little water) and environment friendly agricultural methods.

 

Objective of the project

 

Elaboration of a broad range program that offers complex solutions to the problems of the local community (poverty, plain diet, waste management, etc.) while being beneficial not only for the community but also for the environment.

An important pillar of the fulfillment of this objective is the elaboration of the long-term agricultural project

  • that improves the efficiency of crop production (and later animal production) by using environment friendly technologies and solutions in the region;
  • implementation of new – unknown or not yet produced – plant species to improve yield, to provide a balanced diet and to increase the intake of nutritious food, vitamins and/or minerals;
  • that offers a source of livelihood for local families and/or enables them to produce their own food and save money that can be spent on other important purposes (e.g. education of children);
  • to ensure higher and more reliable yield through the applied technologies (soil improvement, shading) and give a chance for plants to survive in the dry season.

 

During the implementation of the project we will also focus on the below objectives:

  • Education of the local people to use new conservation methods, e.g. canning, with the help of which fresh corn and beans can be conserved without drying thus the cooking of these ingredients will require less time and energy;
  • Reduction of the amount of waste by way of producing own food, e.g. cooking home made jam instead of purchasing bottled jam in shops;
  • Recycling of organic waste through farm animal breeding (e.g. goat, hen) and composting as well as the use of animal waste (e.g. hen and cow manure) in agriculture.

(Note: to reduce and recycle non-organic waste we launched a separate waste management project with SARE SEEP, named “Taka taka”.)

 

Expected results of the project:

  • Local communities will familiarize with new agricultural work methods and plants that in the long term become part of their everyday lives;
  • Due to the more varied and balanced diet as well as the higher nutrient- and vitamin intake the general health of the local people improves, they will be more resistant to diseases and the children’s performance at school will also improve;
  • By way of self-sustaining farming and the sale of potential surplus food will reduce the number of families in need;
  • The new breadwinning alternative helps to reduce the intensity of charcoal production (we plan to initiate an energy project to this end and educate people on effective cooking methods);
  • By way of increasing own production the purchase of ready-made and (overtly) packaged goods can be reduced that also reduces the generation of waste.

 

Timing, work plan

 

Phase 1 – Expert pilot

 

  • Period: April – September, 2016
  • Objective: Testing solutions and plants proven in Bura in the local climate and geographical environment.
  • The technologies to be applied (e.g. shading, soil improvement, mulching) and the variety of plants (draught enduring corn, beans, tomatoes, kohlrabi) will be selected upon consultation with the agricultural expert based on the local soil, geographical and climate environment, after the on-site visit in April. (The Mon Jardin! expert currently works in Congo and returns to Kenya at the beginning of March so the site visit can not take place earlier than April.)
  • The expert will spend six weeks in the area and performs the soil preparation work and the planting with the involvement and help of local people and also takes part in the harvesting of the first crop.
  • In this phase of the project we will focus on production methods and plant testing and once they are both completed we start the training of people on conservation methods as well as the wide scope use of the selected plants.

 

Further phases – local (2) and nationwide (3) roll-out – will be launched from Oct 2016 onward based on the experiences of Phase I.

Detailed work plan and budget will be made right before the given phase starts based on the experiences from earlier phases.

 

Budget, financial data

 

Detailed budget was made only for Phase I., thus the below data is for Phase I. solely. (For further phases we will elaborate detailed budget only after Phase I is fully implemented, based on experiences of that.)

 

The budget includes:

  • cost of the necessary tools and material (hack, rake, wheelbarrow etc.), seeds, building shades, building the fence around the area:
  • fees for the Hungarian project manager and agricultural expert and their costs of transport within Kenya;
  • project launch and closing event and meals for community members involved in farmer work;
  • administration costs (translation, printing etc.).

 

Total project budget for Phase I: HUF 2,852,000-

We are looking for and inviting donators and possibilities to apply for funds to finance the project.

 

Monitoring and reporting

 

The project manager prepares a written report on all phases. Whenever possible takes part in the actual work and supervises the progress of the project.

The agricultural expert prepares written reports on the progress of the project and upon completion prepares a final report on project experiences and results that summarizes the most important lessons learned for the continuation of the project with further phases.

The individual phases will be documented with photos – and if possible – with videos with the help of the agricultural expert and the Kenyan staff member.

Expenses will be verified with invoices issued to the name of the Fund.

 

23 Feb 2016