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    By George Munene

    Through a Sh18 million grant from the Feed the Future Kenya Livestock Market Systems Activity, Dahir Haret, a farmer in arid Garissa County, has been able to diversify his income from livestock rearing to cultivating 40 acres of Boma Rhodes, Cenchrus Ciliaris, and Brachiaria grasses as well as 10 acres of fruit trees.

    Chipping in Sh2.6 million of his money through a cost share plan, the 36-year-old from Fafi Sub-County has invested in the construction of a modern hay barn, installed a solar-powered water pump for irrigation, and procured a tractor with a trailer, and hay baler, plow rake, and mower.  

    During this dry spate, 500 households have depended on fodder from his farm to keep their livestock alive. He makes hay harvests every two to three months and sells each bale of hay between Sh360 and Sh479.

    On his 120-acre family land, pastoralists are also allocated plots to harvest feed and carry it to their animals at a subsidised price. This helps conserve the energy their animals would have spent walking. This has increased herd survival compared to losses during previous droughts.

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    According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Efforts, the current drought has left over 4.2 million people in dire need of food, and livestock deaths have surpassed 1.5 million.   

    The rains have not fallen for three seasons in Garissa County, a mostly arid area with desert-like terrain.

    Because of the farm’s affordable and sustainable production, the county government and the Kenya Agricultural Livestock and Research Organisation use the farm as a model and demonstration site. It is also a fodder seed multiplication center supporting farmers interested in venturing into commercial fodder production.  

    Farmers in arid regions are realising the glaring gap in animal feed, especially during periods of drought. Dahir diversified into commercial fodder production to sell grass to pastoralists during drier periods as well as high-quality fodder seeds to sell to other farmers interested in starting fodder production.  

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    In 2014, he established Kamuthe Young Farmers, a self-help group and family farm, utilising a portion of their family land.

    The small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) employs five full-time staff and contracts two labourers, depending on the workload. 

    The Feed the Future Kenya Livestock Market Systems (LMS) program is a USAID-funded program to create resilient, competitive, and inclusive livestock systems to reduce the prevalence and depth of poverty, household hunger, and chronic undernutrition in Northern Kenya.

    The program is present in the five counties of Garissa, Wajir, Isiolo, Marsabit, and Turkana.


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    By George Munene

    On just a 50x100 piece of leased land in Ruiru along the Eastern Bypass, Charles Macharia, more commonly known as Macharia Wa Hay, keeps chicken, ornamental birds, stored hay, and his prized 30 goats. 

    From them, he milks 18 liters daily retailing at Sh200 a liter. Being in a peri-urban area he says has given him a leg up on his competition as the milk he produces isn't enough to satisfy his demanding clients.   

    The former dairy farmer, who keeps another 100 goats in Mûkûrwe'inî, Nyeri County, from which he gets another 70 liters daily, explained that he made a conscious effort last year to harness the sprouting demand for goat milk which is prized for its numerous health benefits and fetches a premium, especially around Nairobi and its environs.

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    The milk from his goats in Ruiru is sold to households in his neighborhood while most of the 70 liters go to a cheese-making boutique eatery in Westlands.

    “I pivoted from dairy to goats in 2015. This is because they are less intensive and cheaper to rear. The market for goat milk is also undersupplied,” said Macharia.

    Also a hay wholesaler, he never lacks fodder for his goats. However, this need not deter any potential farmer because the maximum amount of dry matter they can consume in a day is three kilograms.

    This is supplemented by about 500 grams of concentrate for the top producers (4/5 kg).

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    “I stick to dry matter feed; hay, lucerne, silage with pollard, soya, and maize germ as concentrates,” he illuminated.

    The breeds of goats in his herd include the Toggenburg, British Alpine, German Alpine, Saanen, French Alpine and Kenya Alpine. This he sells as weaned, served and unserved doelings for between Sh8,000 and Sh20,000.


    Macharia Wa Hay: 0722587140

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    Extra Virgin Avocado Oil 1 of 1 2

    By George Munene

    The retail price of one liter of cooking has risen to over Sh350, an almost 50 per cent jump from last year. Incredulously, avocadoes-- a rich source of natural cooking oil are rotting on farms across Kenya. 

    This has pushed farmers such as Japhet Kabesa in Vihiga County to look into processing avocadoes into cooking oil.

    “For years we’ve been lamenting about a lack of market for our fruits, the bulk of which rot on our farms while we continue paying ever-rising prices for cooking oil.

    We have collectivised as a group of 300 farmers with over 2,000 trees and are looking into setting up an avocado cooking oil business which we hope will arrest this,” said Japhet on the phone with Farmbiz looking for an avocado oil extractor".

    Though it's a novel product, given it is natural and will be relatively affordable, he has no doubt it is something people will eventually embrace.

    Nasirembe Wanjala, an agricultural engineer in charge of agricultural mechanisation at the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (KALRO), Katimani, explains that since the rise in international demand for palm oil has seen Malaysia--Kenya’s largest palm oil exporter-- restrict exports his phone has not stopped ringing with inquiries on avocado oil extractor machines.

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    ”KALRO used to research on manual oil extractors which had to be discontinued because they were labour intensive, not easily portable, and costly to fabricate. Through a (PPP) public-private partnership arrangement we train and fabricate individual components of the electric oil expeller with artisans in Machakos,” he said.

    With this machine, farmers can press 15 to 20 liters an hour depending on the quality and source of raw material as well as the expertise of the machine operator.

    On average, four kilos of avocado yield one liter of oil, but this again hinges on the raw material. Avocadoes growing in areas with abundant rains such as Kisii and Muranga have more moisture content and will require about three kilograms while those cultivated in more arid regions such as Machakos or Makueni may require seven kilograms to yield one litre of oil. 

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                                       Electric oil extractor

    The electric oil extractor can process virgin oil which is made from fresh avocado and preheated oil, extracted from ripened and dried avocadoes. 

    The avocado is first cut and fed into a hopper. It is then picked by an auger and pulverised in a compression chamber. From there the oil is released and the cake remains extruded. Depending on its intended use, the avocado oil is then sieved for dirt or suspension. 

    The waste can be used as biomass for biogas, making soaps, cosmetics, window pane putty, and many other products.

    If it is meant for consumption, the oil may need to be purified before oxidizing.

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    Other value addition processes such as water separation, filtration, centrifugal separation, stilling, and distillation can further be employed.

    The machine runs on a single-phase two-horsepower motor. It is also fitted with a spiral auger mechanism that ensures continuous feeding.

    Nasirembe points out that the electrical oil extractor is now priced at Sh75,000 but its price shifts depending on the cost of materials such as the stainless material, gearbox, and motor.

    “There is currently no standard price for avocado oil; depending on the raw materials used, and method of extraction it can cost anywhere from Sh200 to Sh400 a liter. Virgin oil is more expensive as it’s costlier to make,” he added.

    Nasirembe Wanjala, KALRO: 0733812953

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