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Eldoret artist earns Sh2000 a day selling scarecrows to farmers

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An enterprising 32-year-old man in Moi’s Bridge is making up to Sh2000 a day from making and selling ‘running’ scarecrows. A recent study by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). showed that crop farmers in the region have been losing up to 20 per cent and 80 per cent of their crop to bird and animal damage respectively.   
Using plastic paper and banana fibre, Ernest Bowen molds light weight scarecrows which are then loosely tied on to supporting sticks across farms using tapes harvested from old video and radio cassettes, such that when blown by wind, they blow around, in the form of a running person, scaring away birds and animals.
His creations are fast-becoming popular with farmers in the area, who have traditionally been physically guarding their farmlands to chase away monkeys, squirrels, weaver birds among others especially when crops are sprouting and yielding.
According to Daniel Wafula, whose maize farm boarders a thicket near River Nzoia, squirrels and monkeys usually attack his maize, forcing him to stand guard all day and night.
Wafula hailed Bowen’s artistic solution to the problem saying that it is practical and efficient.
“It also helps minimize the animal-human conflict which often results in deaths and injuries,’’ said Wafula.
Wafula lamented that in 2013, monkeys destroyed almost two-thirds of the maize in his two-acre farm, leading to huge loses.
In a week, Bowen makes up to 100 scarecrows which he sells at between Sh70-150 in Kitale and adjacent towns. He personally collects plastic paper from dumping sites in the area and old cassette tapes from individuals and music stores that have no use for them.
Bowen, who has been living on this business for the past four years after losing his job as a supermarket attendant in Eldoret in 2011, explained that his business normally booms between April and December, a maize production season in Rift valley and Western Kenya.
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This year, Bowen is eyeing North Rift market especially farmers near Burnt Forest, where he intends to set up a scarecrow kiosk. He asked farmers to equally invest in the scarecrows because they help protect the finals crop yield. Bowen’s plea is reinforced by the FAO study that blamed farmers for doing less to curb animal and bird pests.

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