Name your Price Mother Nature.

Climate change is defined as a change in global or regional regular climate patterns. Such changes occur as a result of rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and other greenhouse gases that trap heat causing an outburst of extreme weather changes such as intermittent floods and droughts. The effects of climate change are being felt globally and Kenya is no exception.

Situated at the equator, Kenya receives a good share of sunshine throughout the year. She has an area of 582,650sq. Km with 11, 227sq. Km comprising of water bodies. That said, it should be noted that Kenya’s climate is controlled and influenced by the onshore monsoon winds blowing from the Indian ocean. The onshore monsoon winds dictate the rainfall patterns in Kenya such that she experiences heavy long rains usually in late April, May and early June. This is usually followed by a short rainy season that normally wets the land in November through December followed roughly from mid-Dec to March by a dry season of hot usually rainless water. However, with climate change taking the world on a sprint it has become harder to predict the actual weather for a specific date. Across the globe, incidences of floods and droughts are on the rise such that seasons (hot, cool) are becoming increasingly unseasonable.Incidences of heavy downpour has been witnessed in the recent past in Mombasa and Nairobi parts of Kenya. Interestingly, Kenya’s climate varies by location; for instance, the coast being tropical has rainfall and high temperatures throughout the year, however this could not be the case anymore given the climate change effects.

In Western parts of Kenya, rainfall has been quite erratic, downing the hopes of a majority of maize farmers for better yields this year. At the time when most farmers were beginning to plant their maize the rainfall patterns were promising. However, this was not to be when the rainfall became erratic and scarce. This occurred at a critical time when farmers needed to topdress their maize fields. What was never foreseen now became an unmitigated disaster. Small scale farmers in the rural areas who fully rely on rain-fed agriculture  were and are a disappointed lot. The rains disappeared for almost 2 months running when the maize fields were at a critical stage for water and fertilizer availability; needless to say, the situation is dire. According to the International Assessment on Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), agriculture is closely linked to many concerns that include biodiversity loss, water availability and global warming. It therefore focuses on how to make better use of agricultural science knowledge and technology to improve rural livelihoods, reduce hunger and poverty and foster equitable and sustainable development.

Agriculture is tied to climate change and one cannot fail to mention agriculture in matters regarding climate change. IAASTD observes that agriculture has expanded at the expense of the environment, take for example deforestation to create more land for planting crops. It encroaches on forest land and therefore posing  a risk and an ultimate effect of more carbon in the atmosphere due to deforestation. How do we fight the effects of climate change on our globe? Food production is essential and thanks to non- profit organisations such as One Acre Fund. Besides supporting farmers with farming to improve their rural livelihood, One Acre Fund also supplies tree seedlings to farmers. As such , there is sustainable food production with no huge expense to the environment. Take for example the One Acre Fund programme model.
It has been instrumental in shaping the lives of thousands of farmers living in the rural areas of East Africa. It’s service bundle includes:-

1. Financing for farm inputs.

2. Distribution of seed and fertilizer.

3.Training on agricultural techniques.

4.Market facilitation to maximise profits from harvest sales.

With scarcity of rainfall, strategic measures need to be put in place that can help cushion farmers in the rural areas against the effects of climate change. In the case of prolonged dry spell, farmers with small acreages of land could be supplied with irrigation kits at affordable rates on condition that their farms are close to an available water source. This could help mitigate against the effects of scarce rainfall that have held farmers hostage for the better part of the long rains season. In the case of floods, the government and NGOs could come in and build efficient drainage systems, dykes that can prevent water logging and destruction of food crops. 

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My Career, My Choice.

Ever since the time we grew up, society has conditioned us to view careers on a top to bottom list; with the top being the best of careers while the bottom taking no credit. Conditioning came through when our parents would suggest a number of careers that appeared or sound to be prestigious such as careers in medicine, law, economics and engineering to name a few. Any other career on the contrary would not have appealed to them. The above mentioned careers were considered and are still considered to be prestigious, worthy of honour and of a high social status. Careers in teaching,journalism,anthropology,policing,extension education would have and still brush some students the wrong way with their parents. 
One big question I need to ask is; what parameters do we use to gauge or measure the value of a given career? Some measure a career in terms of how much it can pay, some take pleasure in titles a career could give, some enjoy a given career because it could be less of an office work and more of moving up and down. Some see the rate of career growth and networking as a factor. My point of concern is what would make a certain career more prestigious than the other? At the end of the day, everybody wants to make a living and make an improvement in their own individual lives. I am tempted to think social status is what determines the value of a career. No wonder careers in law, medicine and engineering are highly placed in our societies. This can be undoubtedly proven whenever national examination results are released especially in a country like Kenya. The top candidates that usually emerge in Kenya Certificate of Secondary Examinations when interviewed over electronic and print media will proudly mention medicine, law or engineering as their dream career. Interestingly enough, no single candidate has ever been heard mentioning a career in agriculture, journalism, education and the like; notwithstanding that agriculture is the backbone of Kenya’s economy don’t we need more of agricultural experts to give technical advice on how to improve our food production to surplus as a country.

Kenya as a country has a development blue print dubbed ‘Vision 2030’. It stands on three pillars of Social, Economic and a Political pillar. My layman understanding is that by 2030, as a country we should be talking of development milestones on the three pillars. One thing we cannot run away from as the educated countrymen is the fact that our economy thrives on agriculture, tourism and industrialisation. Methinks society has conditioned many of her offsprings to view careers in terms of social status and honour rather than the need it can meet. As much as we need doctors and lawyers as a country we equally need agronomists, horticulturists, biologists, data analysts, social workers among other professions. Our best of students should not only play the social status card but also try to add value to other well paying, nation-building careers.

Sad enough is the fact that some Kenyans will never appreciate certain careers in this country. Careers in Kenya Police especially traffic, Kenya football especially the national team -Harambee stars and being a head coach of such like a team. The head coach of the football national team is never spared either such that however, much he tries to work to improve on the performance of the national football team a single win among many loses won’t receive a single praise. However much he outshines his previous performance, Kenyans will still have a reason to point a finger.

While our Police force has been a sham ( extra-judicial killings, bribery, ghost policeofficers,controversial promotions)to the point of attracting the attention of an Independent Police Oversight Committee – IPOA, we should not allow our children to grow up feeling a career in the police force is for the losers in society. On the same knot, a career in football should not be made to be viewed in bad light by our children. As a country, we are no doubt proud of Victor Wanyama the Southampton midfielder who is moving to Tottenham Hotspurs next season for £ 11 million. Though a few of our players have made it to the international football arena, we are not to say that the chances for our players are dim.  I believe our good days in football are yet to come.

Your career is your choice, you know best where your passion lies. I encourage to live your dream and be the best you were made to be.

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The Bane and Boon of Commercial Agriculture.

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Since time immemorial, agriculture has always and is said to be the backbone of Kenya’s economy. It is the pillar through which other economic activities have been able to grow and achieve tremendous growth; for example industrialisation. Various industries have been able to grow and establish through agricultural raw materials. Subsequently, products and technologies developed by this industries and companies have been able to find market in the agricultural sector. Not to mention that thousands and thousands of the Kenyan population earn their livelihood through agriculture directly and indirectly.Directly through employment in government ministries, the private sector and NGOs.Indirectly through commercial farming activities such as agribusiness that gives one a source of income. Needless to say, one does not need rocket science to know what impact agriculture has brought on the lives of Kenyans and Africa at large.

Agriculture in itself is worth undertaking as an economic activity.With capital,the right market information, timing, and needed technical advice, the results do not always disappoint. I am personally a beginner in practising agriculture as an economic activity. My focus is on intensive production of horticultural crops such as French beans, onions, pepper, watermelon among others. I live in a country where the youth would rather ride motorbikes,record songs and sit in revolving office chairs rather than venture into farming as an economic activity. Some have been made to think linearly by our 8.4.4  education system that can be said to be as old as the Vasco da Gama days. A student  who has undergone through this system ( I for example) is made to think that the only way to make it through in life is to seek employment; get a permanent and pensionable job. On top of that if one is lucky enough ( in a country of ours where getting a job calls for more than meets the eye), you receive house and transport allowance. That in itself is not wrong. My attitude is not demeaning towards employment. All am trying to say is that our education system makes one to think that formal education and a white collar job is the only surefire way out of poverty and dependency. We are thus made to think linearly in such like a manner unknowingly.
Sad enough, there is a lacuna for mentors and role models amongst the present day youth. Mentors and role models are wanting across the board. Unfortunately, all the youths see among people meant to be their mentors are broken marriages, cheating spouses, backdoor deals in business, embezzlement of public funds, hate speech, poor parenting – (no wonder to the rising cases of dormitories being burnt down by students in public secondary schools), a people wallowing in debts, gamblers, failed dreams, drunkards, prostitutes, professionals with no integrity and work ethics, churches turned business hubs to milk dry the flock. Capitalism is on the rise and the few good left are busy chasing down up and up down their dreams and ambitions in the jubilee government  24/7 economic system to amass as much as is possible. As such the youth are left rudderless  with the immoral and manipulative social and Tv media as their mentor; thanks to the local and international news coverage though. For instance, how do you explain an incidence that happened recently in Kakamega county whereby spouses swapped spouses. So where do in-laws fit in, in this web of confusion?
It is against such a backdrop that I chose to do something worthwhile with the knowledge I acquired through the 8.4.4 education system. The good old saying goes that – The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. I have taken the first step already; focus, persistence, research and patience is now key.  I have already encountered a failure even in my first step but I am not deterred because I know am gonna make beauty out of ashes. Farming in itself requires thorough supervision and the resources of land, labour,time and management. In my local area and county to be a little bit precise Onions have always performed well due to a favourable climate conducive for onion growing; this has made Bungoma one of the leading counties; in fact as per 2013, Bungoma was the leading producer by value in Onion production at 23% followed by Meru at 11% and Taita Taveta at 7% in Onion production in Kenya. As a beginner, what I have first learned is that the information you have about your crop is key to the success of your project. Gather as much information you can through research , consultations with experts, agricultural field officers and farmers who have been doing the crop over the years when you were still being trained to be a job seeker. This is because , insufficient information will leave you 3-4 steps behind doing the wrong thing thus the beginning of failure. Information to be gathered should include every single step of your farming project beginning with the first day you plant your seeds on a nursery bed to the very last day you will take your products to the market. The point to note here is that you have to work with the end in mind. What are my returns? What risks am I facing? Am I able to mitigate the risks or not? If not what is the alternative venture/project?

One other thing to note is capital. It is of essence here and will contribute greatly to the success of your farming venture. Many youths have listed it as a number one challenge to any start up.Banks and lenders haven’t done much to support start ups in my opinion. Mostly they Fund already established businesses.; It’s only recent that the government came up with an initiative to fund the youth popularly known as Uwezo Fund. It is already alleged hefty  amounts of the funds have been embezzled. However, apart from this avenues that don’t seem to be so promising to the youth, one could use the power of leverage. Methinks your integrity and personality counts here. I believe anybody with money/capital/resources  could/can give it to you as long as you prove trustworthy, reliable and accountable to them. Besides, it should be a person you have already established a rapport with and have known each other for sometime. Not the stranger you bumped into on the streets. The point to note here is that character is key to any business venture, the success of your project and destiny. This reminds me of a story by Mr. Strive Masiyiwa, allegedly the richest man in Zimbabwe. During his presentation at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit here in Kenya that was graced by POTUS; he narrated how as a beginner he ventured into to the supplies business. Given that he was beginning and did not have much then, he approached an established businessman to lend him the goods he was to supply. On asking when he will pay back Mr. Masiyiwa honestly said ‘I don’t know’. That particular statement was enough to lower down any guards and misconceptions the businessman might have had of Mr. Masiyiwa. The businessman opened his heart to Mr. Masiyiwa and told him that of all the borrower’s that had ever come to borrow from him none had ever been so honest like Mr. Masiyiwa. All they could say was ,I will pay on this particular date only to fail. Needless to say, Mr. Masiyiwa got his supplies on credit. Needless to say, Mr. Masiyiwa received a standing ovation during GES because of the narration. The point to note here is that integrity is key in acquisition of resources.
Any crop farming venture will require a source of water to meet the crop water requirement , mix the chemicals among other things. With rainfall, timing is key, nevertheless, rainfall can also be erratic and unpredictable. Personally, I am grappling with the issue of rainfall that has been quite erratic and henceforth  delaying my schedule. The point to note here is that one needs an alternative source of water apart from rainfall in order to be safe from prolonged  periods of sunshine when the crops are at a critical stage that requires a lot of water such as flowering in beans. One could invest in an irrigation pump and drips or sprinklers. This enables all year round production due to water availability.If the water source is not from rain, then one should be sure to use water from a water source that is clean and not contaminated by disease-causing pathogens. It is advisable to use borehole water. Precaution should be taken not to wash used knapsack sprayers with chemicals near the borehole as the chemicals washed will sip down and cause contamination to the borehole water. Besides, boreholes that are near a particular crop plantation should also be handled with caution. For example tomatoes infected with bacterial wilt when washed down by rain water, the pathogens could  sip down and contaminate borehole water.

One other thing to note is the proximity of the nursery bed to the seedbed. This is to be observed in cases where the crop is first to be planted on nursery bed before being transplanted to seedbed. The closer the nursery bed is to the seed bed the easier the process of transplanting. A nursery bed that is far away from the seedbed may  make the work of transporting the seedlings tedious and time-consuming. Besides transportation of the seedlings could cause damage to some depending on how you carry them and also the means of transport. Chemical regime on nursery bed should be strongly adhered to. Many fungicides and insecticides companies usually sell their products attached with a leaflet of instructions on how to apply the given chemical.  Some recommend spray intervals of 7-14 days. This will help protect your crops against pests and diseases. Crops from the same family (i.e potatoes and tomatoes) should not be planted on a bed where one of the crops has been harvested previously. This will prevent pest and disease built up on soil for the same crops. Spacing and level of planting on nursery bed is very important for crops you plant on a  nursery bed as this will determine the vigour and the total population of sturdy seedlings that can be transplanted. Adequate watering should be observed in the first 2 weeks after planting in the event that there is no rainfall.
Land preparation depends on the type of crop you wanna plant. Early land preparation is important for the soil to be turned and exposed to sunlight for the purposes of killing and destroying any pests on soil. With onions for example, land should be properly tilled to a fine tilth ( primary and secondary tillage) and the seedbed cleared of every crop and weed debri remains. Harrows should be done shallowly using hoes or a harrower depending on the size of land. It is also important that one performs a soil test on his/her land to know the soil pH, know what nutrients could be  toxic to the crop and need reducing,know what nutrients are deficient and apply the correct correctional fertilizer. Some soils could be found to be too acidic. The acidity on soil could be reduced by addition of lime or gypsum raising the level of pH. Soil testing helps one know the macro-nutrients present on soil and those micro-nutrients that could be needful. There are cultural practices that support the development of healthy, vigorous root systems that result in efficient uptake and use of available nutrients. This include
– Diverse crop rotations.
-Reducing tillage -helps reduce erosion.
-Growing cover crops.
-Composting and using all available wastes or by products.
-Liming to maintain soil pH.
-Applying supplemental fertilizers.
– Routine soil testing and Plant analysis

Market access is very important in commercial agriculture. It is the determinant in determining whether you will make a kill or count losses. Many farmers have decried middlemen who buy their produce from the farm at very low buying prices and selling them at peak market prices. Timing is key here. One could plant the crop to harvest when demand is high hence fetching a higher price.There are also marketing platforms such as mkulima young that helps farmers in accessing markets; farmers could use this as a valuable tool in marketing their products.

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Do you even care?

img_20160330_075352.jpgIn the rat race to be the next dollar billionaire, seems everyone has forgotten about their immediate environment. We are living in cities and sub-urban areas that are full of

  •  Stinking uncollected garbage.
  • Leaking drainage systems.
  • Few or scarce dustbins that are unequally distributed to throw away plastic materials by individual users.
  • Graffiti on our public walls.
  • Avoidance of public footpaths and stepping on the mowed green lawns.
  • Pissing on walls even when graffiti speaks on the contrary.
  • Dumping litter at undeserved public spots.
  • Car owners and Passenger Serving Vehicles throwing fruit peelings, paper wraps, juice bottles over the window in a moving vehicle.
  • Pieces of litter everywhere.

Given that we have no public environment prefects, our immediate environment remains pathetic, grotesque and poses a health risk to human lives.Suddenly, everyone has become insensitive to their immediate environment.In his ‘State of the Nation Address’ President Uhuru Kenyatta received a lot of  jeers by Members of Parliament on the poor Report Card submitted by his government to the nation. One major issue was garbage collection in cities . County government themselves have not done much in taking care of the environment. Apart from purchasing of garbage trucks to deposit litter at allocated sites much is yet to be achieved. A single garbage truck, even two cannot efficiently attend to litter dumping in the sub-urban areas within a county.

More so, tough measures should be put in place to punish them that deliberately  throw litter anywhere, any place at anytime. Graffiti is still read from afar off. It is time we got rid of a culture that erodes the significant gains we have made as a society in terms of preserving our environment for our future generations. It is obvious to everyone that a  clean tidy home is attractive and enjoyable staying in; same applies to a city or major town. We will not be able to welcome visitors in our towns , when they are in a sorry, dirt-looking state. In the long run our economies will hurt bad because there will be no foreign exchange brought by the vibrant tourism industry. Tourists love and enjoy beautiful land well crafted towns and cities. On the same knot a dirty environment, full of garbage will create diseases brought about by disease vectors such as mosquitoes that cause Malaria and transmission of other diseases.

Upon such like an environment, healthy living will be a cliché because our hospitals  and Public health officers will have lost the battle already. Garbage forms a conducive breeding ground for insects to breed and multiply. Investors will not come running to a dirty city full of garbage and litter everywhere. Their businesses and investments will be threatened because of unsafe drinking water and poor garbage collection systems.Their products will not sell to their peak because of a dirty environment with questionable manufacturing and processing environments. In such a state our young population and graduates will lack jobs if we continue living in a dirty environment. Investors and multi-nationals  will not dare set foot in unclean  environment for production. It is therefore the responsibility of every single individual to ensure a clean  environment around them.

In the same way, our soils will be a sham, not worthy for any landscaping activity because of dumping chlorofluorocarbons and non-decomposing materials on the ground over a long period of time; this destroys our soil structure and makes any type of farming impossible.Once everyone learns the importance of keeping the environment clean, new values will have been incorporated in our lives. People will learn to be responsible in supporting their environment. People will take the initiative to create awareness about the importance of their environment  by planting trees and carrying out mass education on the environment for example the Greenbelt Movement in Kenya. Our governments should be resourceful and faithful to the call of duty by repairing broken and burst leakages in our waste drainage  and water drainage systems.

job 1 (1)

DO YOU CARE ENOUGH FOLKS?

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Should Alcohol Manufacturers be Allowed to advertise on Television?

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That is a big HELL NO!!!. I say this because one doesn’t need to go far to see the devastating effects alcohol has caused in our lives. Am not in any way trying to condemn alcohol consumers. However, when our TV sets make you crave for something you may have no idea about without warning you on its excesses then I will have to quote from the movie Apollo 13 ‘ Euston, we have a problem’  From broken marriages and families to road accidents and poor health you name it. Neglected family responsibilities; it is right there before our eyes. Yet this is something we want to give it more advertisement space on TV.
First and foremost, teens and young people spend alot of time watching television. There minds are being fed on a daily basis, with how sweet and juicy an alcoholic drink is. Unfortunately for some of them, alcoholic drinks are readily available even in the comfort of their homes. With alcoholic ads on our TV sets, non-alcoholics are tempted on a daily basis to test the brand being advertised. People drinking alcohol are made to appear happy and having a lot of fun. Our teens, pick this cues from them and start over.

Secondly, alcohol is a factor in the four leading causes of death among them car accidents, homicide and suicide, unintentional injuries. This means the more the TV advertisements on alcohol, the more the number of deaths in a nation or a given country. Unfortunately, young people view close to 20,000 commercials each year; out of this, 2000 are for beer and wine. This therefore has a direct effect on how people perceive alcohol – it’s fun, helps you forget your problems, feels good to be tipsy. Stop alcohol advertisements on our TV sets stop high number of deaths.

Thirdly,  morals and decency of a  society or nation are eroded through TV commercial advertisements on alcohol. Take for example, half-naked women drinking themselves over and dancing blissly to the tune of music in a TV commercial. Over time, our daughters and sisters would want to do the same thing. Anything watched that touches on our deepest human feelings always creates a hunger or invokes feelings for the same.  Unfortunately, such TV commercials come when the whole family is having dinner. To maintain and promote morals in society, let’s uphold the right values even on our TV sets.

Furthermore,  if tobacco, a product with addictive tendencies and devastating social and health effects was banned on TV why not alcohol??. In the United states, excessive drinking is responsible for 1 in 10 deaths among adults between the ages of 20-64 years old on average. This is a worrying trend that can be taken care of by reducing the number of TV commercial. Worse still, the number of people who own television sets in their homes has increased over the years, giving more room for TV commercial advertisments to reach a large number of people. Such advertisments should be banned.

Our lives and health are more important to be made shorter by the wrong commercial advertisments. Businesspeople and the party lovers will argue on the contrary but the fact remains that television advertisements by Alcohol manufacturers should be banned for the general well-being of every single individual.

Citation:
Strasburger, V.C., and Donnerstein, E. (1999). Children, adolescents, and the media: Issues and solutions. Paediatrics, 103 (1): 129-139.

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