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    One of the diesel decorticators made by Alex Odundo. He is assembling and selling sisal and banana fibre dicorticator machines to farmers in most parts of the country.

    A Kisumu Polytechnic graduate is seeking to reignite sisal farming in the country by manufacturing a machine that can easily extract the sisal fibres and has so far reached over 10,000 farmers nationally.

    RELATED ARTICLE: Banana fibre turn the tide for an entrepreneur in Kirinyaga County

    Production and exports of sisal fibre reached 68,000 and 58,000 metric tonnes per annum respectively in 1965 with sisal plantation hitting over 120, 000 hectares while the Industry employed over 20,000 people directly and many more indirectly according to Kenya Sisal Industry.

     However, this has since changed in the recent years. Sisal farming has been neglected by many Kenyan farmers in favour of other crops such as sugarcane, tobacco, tea and coffee among other cash crops.

    Alex Odundo has for the last seven years made and sold over 100 sisal fibre decorticator to over 10, 000 farmers in Kenya. “Over the years many farmers who used to grow sisal have abandoned the crop. The few sisal grown nowadays are just found along land boundaries for demarcation purposes and not commercially grown,” said Odundo.

    RELATED ARTICLE: Researchers: Banana pseudo stems are rich source of quality fibres

    In his workshop-Olex Techno Enterprise based in Kisumu town he buys imported machine parts including the engines, assembles them into a complete operation machine ready for the market.

    In this, Odundo has reached approximately 10 to 15 farmer groups whereby only one machine can serve many. “One machine can serve about ten families in a given area so interested farmers form groups and buy one machine which they can share among themselves,” he said.

    Farmers place orders for a machine of their choice depending on the capacity that they require. It is then delivered to them at half the cost of the whole transport meaning the workshop share half the transport cost although some customers prefer visiting the workshop to collect the machines themselves.

    RELATED ARTICLE: Kitui farmers fight food shortage, dry spells with sisal farming

    ““We do deliver our products within one week after payments however some customers who would like a demonstration on how the machines work before they buy, come to the workshop and leave with their products upon purchase,” said Odundo.

    Their prices range from Sh80, 000 to Sh200, 000 depending on the capacity. He has also managed to them to countries such as Tanzania, Rwanda, Madagascar, Somaliland, and Nigeria among others.

    The decorticators can also be used to extract banana fibers.

    Odundo has seven employees in his workshop, five others in the field while there are others who are occasionally contacted to help demonstrate to farmers how the machines work in case of deliveries.

    The workshop is currently working on gender friendly decorticators as the current ones are heavy to operate, said Odundo.

    To find Odundo or his products, visit sifamachinery.wordpress.com or call him on 0724719567

     

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    In 2014, Brian Bosire  founded UjuziKilimo which in Swahili means “Knowledge farming." He was motivated by the struggles of his farming parents to raise school fees and at the same time deal with poor farm harvest each season; after investing a lot of time and money.

    Related article:  Soil testing improving farmers out put

    “At the age of 19, I imagined of a simple device that my mother could stick into the soil and instantly know what crops could offer her maximum yield, what amount and type fertilizers she needed and best seed varieties in order to reduce the risks involved in traditional farming by trial and error” Brian says. My mother had already paid so much, with her own health, for straining too much and making mistakes every time she tried."

    Related article: SoilCares mobile soil lab gives farmers results in three hours

    Agriculture plays a significant role in Kenya’s economy accounting for 24% of Gross Domestic Product with over 80% of Kenya’s 46 million population depending on agricultural activities to improve their livelihoods and 75% operating much below average yields with 40% to 50% productivity levels. This is according to Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization report of 2017.

    Related article: Regular soil testing informs farmers of required minerals

    KALRO report assert that, approximately 45% of Government revenue is derived from Agriculture and the sector contributes over 75% of industrial raw materials and more than 50 % of export earnings. A study done by International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) shows that over 70% of all food is produced by rural small holders farmers embracing knowledge based farming and drifting from traditional farm practices in order to meet the demands of the burgeoning population. 

     

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    UjuziKilimo founder Brian Bosire testing the soil PH and nutrient levels using an aid analytics kit/PHOTO/NETFUND

    His innovation involves using sensors and aid analytics to provide precision farming technologies to small scale farmers to enable them embrace technology driven farming as a move to increase their yields and reduce risks of the farm.

    The device uses light, temperature and ion selective sensors to detect and measure soil macronutrients. Sensors produce electrical signals that are conditioned to show exact amount of specific ions and (or) nutrients present in the soil sample by measuring soil PH, salinity, Nitrogen, phosphorus, Potassium and moisture.

    The UjuziKilimo founder saw several gaps in the Kenyan Agricultural market including : lack of knowledge in Agricultural practices, need for new technology, lack of access to market information in terms of prices, buyers and markets, lack of accurate weather information, farmers financial exclusion and supply chain inefficiencies.

    This has opened his perspective to  the over 400 Million African small holder farmers who rely on their guts to make critical farming decisions, most of these farmers have been locked in the poverty cycle due to lack of education, ignorance and even basic skills to enable them make their only economic activity productive. 

     

    UjuziKilimo has created employment opportunities for six young people directly as employees and hundreds others as beneficiaries through providing Agri-Tec services to farmers in rural areas. There are more young people going into agriculture because of the opportunity presented by Agribusiness. Ujuzi Kilimo is happy to serve these young farmers who often have little experience and knowledge in the sector by providing the most needed information on input use, crop selection and best practices to enable them become successful.

    UjuziKilimo has received Sh 1.3m as support from The National Environment Trust Fund (NETFUND), a state corporation under the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Regional Development Authorities. The support is in terms of refining the business through informative and hands on business coaching. NETFUND has also provided financial support geared towards furthering the production capacity of the technology and up scaling their services to reach 3000 farmers by the end of 2017. According to NETFUND’S monitoring and evaluation report of 2016, the company is set to reach 200,000 farmers in Kenya in the next 3 years. UjuziKilimo has been nominated for the Digital Inclusion Awards 2017 as the best Digital Agricultural solution provider courtesy of NETFUND.

     

     

     

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

     

     

     

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                Tom Evans.jpg

    For the first time Team Canada members are ready to contest the 64th World Ploughing Championship scheduled to be held at Ngongongeri Farm in Egerton University from November 27th to December 2nd . 22 year old Jay Lennox, the reigning Canadian conventional ploughing champion and 41 year old Tom Evans, the reversible ploughing champion are aiming to win the world title.

    Jay Lennox became the Ontario Junior Ploughing Champion in 2014, went on to take the national title and last year captured his county’s conventional ploughing title. In 2015 Tom Evans won the Ontario reversible champion title and last year became the Canadian Champion. Both Lennox and Evans are competing in the World Championship for the first time. Their coach is Daryl Hostrawser who has been ploughing in competition events since 1966. He has been a competitor in the World Championship three times and has coached Team Canada for the past six years.

    The Canadians will arrive in Nairobi in November 18th and transfer to Egerton on the following day. They will spend time at the FMD workshop in Nakuru hooking up their ploughs and hydraulic controls to the two Massey Ferguson MF 4708 tractors which have been provided for the competition by FMD.

    Several days have been set aside for Jay Lennox and Tom Evans to adapt to the climatic and soil conditions in Egerton. They will try out the Massey Ferguson tractors and their equipment for several days before participating in the official practice session from November 27th to 30th.

    Over 20 countries have already confirmed participation in the event and more are expected before the entry deadline. The 2017 World Ploughing Championship is being held in Kenya for the second time after an interval of 22 years. In 1995 the Kenya round attracted entries from 40 countries.

    The Kenya Ploughing Organisation (KPO) was established in 1996 under the Agricultural Society of Kenya (ASK) umbrella to organize national ploughing contests and help raise the standards of seed bed preparation. The KPO holds countrywide competitions to select participants in the National Championship to earn places for the global contest.

    In 1996 Kenya was represented in the championships by Mark Iraru and Peter Oduor Obuora then Mark Kirui Rongei and Joshua Kiptim Kigen in 2015. This year Kenya will be represented again by Joshua Kiptim Kigen under Conventional Competitors and Simon Otindi Oroni under Reversible Competitors.

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