As everyone knows, I’m a natural farmer. I just love farming my farm and getting down and dirty in the soil. So this week I got back to my roots by traveling to a bunch of farms to find out what interesting practices and innovations are being adopted by area collaboratives.
This is Charles. He is demonstrating how to thresh sorghum with the advanced technique of stick bashing.
Now back in Kisumu, we attended the annual agricultural trade show to check out some of the latest developments and technologies! We spent time with our partners at the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) and the Poverty Eradication Commission (PEC). Because KARI won four awards, including (no joke) Best Cock, we joined them for their after party.
A dairy goat unit built by a women’s group.
Many economic development initiatives in Kenya revolve around the “group.” Women’s groups, youth groups, farmers’ groups. It is an example of how Kenyan culture is collectivist, as opposed to individualist American culture. Many Kenyans (individuals and development organizations alike) have realized that they are reliant on each other by nature and are more likely to succeed if they pool together their resources. Some government organizations and NGOs now only work with groups.
Here is one such group.
Meet Laban, founder of the new West Karatang Green Network. He was trained in various income-generating activities and passes his skills onto his 60 members, up 100% from last year. He pools together all of the members’ various outputs and is able to sell everything! They can’t produce enough to meet demand. The members get back the value of what they put in, save for some percentage that goes to the organization. The group already has 160k KSH/2k USD in its bank account, from which it draws two revolving funds. Laban is the type of entrepreneur ACESS wants to run one of its “village enterprise hubs.”
One of KIRDI’s successes has been developing a grain mill in conjunction with the National Cereals and Produce Board. Processing grain is valuable for value addition. For example, farmers can fetch 45 KSH/0.58 USD per kilo of amaranth. But if they mill and package it at 8 KSH/0.10 USD per kilo, they can fetch 100 KSH/1.28 USD per kilo, a net gain of 47 KSH/0.60 USD per kilo (over 100%!).
Many of ACESS’s amaranth farmers are almost ready for harvest, and it’s time to decide what to do with the grain. We could offer venues for farmers to sell grain locally, store the grain until ACESS builds its own mill, or process the grain at a third party mill and sell it at this hefty profit. KIRDI’s mill falls under the option three and provides research for option two.
The mill can churn out 2.5-3 tons per day and can process a number of grains, including amaranth, maize, and sorghum.
First the grain goes through a sieve to eliminate small debris. This sifter shakes so that debris falls through the sieve and the grain is thrown to the repositories on either side.
Making Do is an investigation into systems of innovation in Kenya's informal economy. Learn more and read the book online or in print here.
I'm Steve Daniels. I study the transformative impact of technology on individuals and societies. I am the founder of the Better World by Design conference at Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design and Analogue Digital, a publisher of content related to global cultures of technology. Currently, I work at IBM Research, where I study mobile social computing in emerging markets.
I am particularly interested in how people create, adapt, and use technology in resource-constrained environments, which I have written about in Making Do: Innovation in Kenya's Informal Economy.
- Emerging Futures Lab
- Future Perfect
- Information Aesthetics
- Maker Faire Africa
- Smarter Planet
- Timbuktu Chronicles
- White African