We never have to give up…

The good book talks of patience as a virtue. Actually, persistence at what you do should matter, as long as it is right. Today in Africa, smallholder farmers are cautiously optimistic of harvest. They are less likely to confidently say the number of bags of sorghum or millet they will net at the end of the season. This is largely due to the vagaries of weather, disease and at times low quality seed. As I put on their lens, I see dejection not far from over if status quo remains. However, as a “real-optimist” I cannot let go of this clutching of the straw amidst adversity. The road to prosperity will definitely have mountains ahead…


Climate change has pumelled farmers mercilessly in the last decade! From unreliable rainfall to noxius pests and disease, the ag appeal keeps fading for these hardworking folks. In sub Saharan Africa, we are talking of about near 100% crop failure or loss. We are staring at pests crunching at our granaries without remorse. Even though many ag related policies and infrastructure are in place, we cannot tell when impactful strategies will reach us. With minimal to no mechanization, a lot of man-hours accounted for on the field toiling and no return to investment as farmers; very little is left to smile about. Great innovations keep being patented in the field of agroecosystems management. Many are yet to be upscaled to reach their desired users — maybe due to something we don’t know as smallholders. Might be because of the increasingly underfunded agricultural research entities? Either way, some if not all of these technologies ought to be intentionally made appealing to the youth. If farming becomes “more romantic”, the youthful (in Kenya they happen to be about 80% of the total workforce even though unemployment is at 50%) will make headway.

Making Ag Romantic

The glimmer of hope is this — climate smart strategies work! They work because they have been tried and tested before and yielded results. The issue, however, has been unpacking the technologies to the rural poor. I believe African governments, with the requisite goodwill, can enable this shift in sustainable development be a reality. Further, supporters of African governments can safely influence commitments to this cause. Food insecurity and malnutrition should not deny us a chance at the table of faster economic development. I believe that solid redress on the food security issue translates to better economic return. Most developed nations always got their agriculture right i.e. food security was sorted urgently before they ventured in other spheres of economic development and diversification. In the place of “growth as long as it is growth” <>, let’s have a rejuvenation of pro-poor agriculture strategies that are climate smart, to yield socio-economic empowerment.

One day, soon, I’d love to see more no-till,irrigation and water-efficient seeds initiatives that result in more food on tables, less or no stories on malnutrition and more farmer incomes! I’ll do my part — hoping you will too!

seed banner

Imagine a farmer… 

When we look at life holistically, there are folks who feel they were wrongfully dismissed at some point. Others equate this to “low skillset” even when they know outright they were qualified. 

But wait, I know of smallholder farmers. Those termed as “world’s rural poor” that feed the world. Ironical huh? This is a group of locals whose daily toil ensures the farm to fork route is a reality. When I look at these wonderful people with a more focused lens, I realise that they are one of the most patient groups. The potential of the seed they bury in dirt is only realized when they see the crop emerge. 

Further, the quality of their produce depends much on the internal as well as the external factors. If they get good seed, it rains but they don’t weed, yields dip. When they receive wrong seed, good rains and crop husbandry, returns are meagre. When markets are there but they remain price takers, they barely enjoy their toil. 

See,  when we package ourselves in ways that allow for routine self-appraisals, we can move forward. In the work place, performance is a mix of many things. In the farm, indigenous technical knowledge coupled with new extension practices and right farmer attitude has great results. Imagine a two-way street… When movement on one way starts, it does not necessarily mean the other way starts. 

When you think of who you are, look at how a farmer anticipates harvest after a day’s work. I bet you’ll be encouraged to keep giving your best!

When the rains come…

Who does not like the feel of rain on earth?  I bet few will give an answer, “me” 🙂

Deep down in the village, rain is more meaningful when two things have happened…

  1. The farmer has tilled their land and has sent a technology bundle in form of seed and nutrition into the soil; and
  2. The harvest has been removed off the farm to prevent any potential losses due to excess moisture that leads to rot especially on grains

In Africa, I’ll single out Kenya later, the main factor of production is land. By not downplaying other two — labour and capital — farmers believe they can make it as long as they receive good rains. With the uncertainty of reliable rains due to climate change effects, it has become important to pay attention to how seasonality affects production. In a report by the World Bank themed “Turn down the heat”, the authors posit scenarios of humanity in these developments.

If we decide to maintain the status quo and shelve sustainability in both development and agriculture, its gonna be hotter in here (earth). Supposing the plausible scenario advocated by many of becoming better stewards holds, we might see a shift in rainy seasons. What these shifts mean is that farmers will need to realign their planting cycles and harvest hopes. Kenya being in the tropics offers a rather interesting twist of events. Areas that were conventionally high rainfall areas will have some depressed levels and the drier areas may have increased precipitation incidences. On temperatures, cooler areas may become warmer while warmer areas may become hotter or cooler depending on winds and humidity. This is debatable across sub Saharan Africa, Asia and the temperate areas. Remember the move towards renewable energy has not got the traction it deserves.

Globally, a lot needs to be done to ensure better sustainability landscape. The consequences for development would be severe as crop yields decline, water resources change, diseases move into new ranges, and sea levels rise (World Bank Report 2014).

For smallholder farmers, where my interest lies, I see a lot that needs to have accurate and regular information updates. From what seed will do well to forecasts that tell the truth! I have reservations on some weather stations which relay inaccurate forecasts — it is mostly a eureka moment when the elders in my village predict rain right!

What can you do at an individual capacity? Make it work by supporting initiatives that train smallholders to become better empowered, with options on sustainable agriculture and on the safety net radar to allow them harvest. All these because, when the rains comes, it needs to do more good than bad.

Do not forget, this morning, a farmer made you grab a bite of something! 🙂


Farmers are critical components of the food system

As time flies, sitting in a lecture about sustainability in agroecosystems, one cannot help but fathom the closely knit structure of society. From a soil scientist perspective, soils are the critical elements to production. A layman’s view is that if rains are absent, no farming can take place. However, the managerial aspect of a production system cannot be wished away.

When rice was still a wild grass with its brother maize, it would have been easy to say the statement as above. Come modernization and a lot more attention to detail in breeding and domestication of species, it goes without say that farmers’ hands are essential to profitable production. Assuming all the modernization remains constant and that no one seeks to offer monitoring and evaluation at farm level, I bet no produce will reach our markets.

Food systems are closely monitored within countries and globally. Farmers, who happen to be very hardworking, in most cases miss out on the technical know-how. The fall of extension services in most sub Saharan Africa further exacerbates the issue. Millions of smallholder farmers toil daily to make sure food takes the farm-to-fork route. Lack of sustained information symmetry makes them victims of the “guess attitude”. The problem with this attitude is that it never allows room for record keeping and profitability. Even hobbies need a bit of hands-on approach to ensure all happens well!

Sadly, governments world over keep struggling to find a way of making markets matter. At times it is also riddled with a lot of broken systems with vested interests! As a boy growing up in the countryside, it was never a good thing to be told that you will become a farmer if you fail exams. I mean, these are currently the most critical assets to food security; that complement other facets like access and nutrition. When a country seeks to scale up on the ladder of development, they always seek to sort their agri-sector. The case of the United States of America, United Kingdom and Singapore just to name a few is anchored on well thought out models of agriculture.

I look forward to a day when farmers will be given the much needed attention. Because between the 24 hours of our day, we need them; we need food, and farmers!

Taveta Road

The life always untold…

Tales Of Rumona

taveta Taveta Road


Its six in the morning, everyone like me is rushing to work, school, home from night shift, to business or is travelling. The morning is chilly, trench coats and boots are the order of the day. Am not any different, I still have a hangover, I didn’t get to sleep well, our neighbor decided to let us share in her plate of misery.

These Oga men have become many particularly in South B. So this middle aged woman probably married and divorced or completely unmarried and stable got herself one of these fine boys from Lagos. The boy was handsome from what I saw on the photo she was crying tearing into pieces. Let’s call him Ike. He was the boyfriend to Magdalena, who was a rich woman. She drove a V8 and was the bank manager of one of the leading banks in Kenya. She  also…

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There’s always and opportunity for self improvement

Growing up has got many connotations from size, wisdom, efficiency or even resilience. It does not matter how we define this stage called moving from point A or B. Maybe let’s call it transformation for now…

There is a great opportunity to differentiate in one’s career space – I use career because it is normally a turn-point for many individuals – going forward. A step in the right direction always spurs one to a direction they never regret. Most memorable moments are created when we cease to look at past failures as inhibitors of success. Imagine if God decided that humanity had sinned so much that they were irredeemable! Very sad state of affairs would have been witnessed huh? We live to give forth an en-sample after  our experience. These experiences will more often shape another person’s destiny. How about if they shaped ours first?

In the words of Theodore Roosevelt, “The more you know about the past, the better prepared you are for the future”, we see an American statesman and author who has a resolve to self-push despite circumstances. Having been born a sickly child with debilitating asthma, Roosevelt successfully overcame his health problems by embracing a strenuous lifestyle. He integrated his exuberant personality, vast range of interests, and world-famous achievements into a “cowboy” persona defined by robust masculinity. Home-schooled, he became a lifelong naturalist before attending the prestigious Harvard College.


Walking is the world’s most democratic activity – it is open to almost everyone, whether young or old, rich or poor. It can be participated in no matter where you are. One can walk to work, stroll around their neighborhood, stride down city blocks, ramble through a parking lot, or saunter over hill and dale. All it takes to begin is placing one foot in front of the other. Despite this accessibility, we probably do less walking these days than ever before in history – the bulk of our day is spent riding, driving, and sitting.

‘Few men know how to take a walk,’ and it is pretty certain that Dr. Johnson was not one of those few. It is a fine art; there are degrees of proficiency, and we distinguish the professors from the apprentices. The qualifications are endurance, plain clothes, old shoes, an eye for nature, good-humor, vast curiosity, good speech, good silence, and nothing too much. Good observers have the manners of trees and animals, and if they add words, it is only when words are better than silence. But a vain talker profanes the river and the forest, and is nothing like so good company as a dog.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Country Life,” 1857

Why organic farming is possible…

By Noel A. Templer.

Organic agriculture is a right step towards sustainability through its social-economic and environmental benefits. Some of the issues that require government support are guiding policies by the government (both Uganda and Kenya) in order to facilitate the mainstreaming of organic agriculture into national planning and development. These can be achieved with close partnerships with the NGOs and CBOs. This form of agriculture has a large and unique potential for poverty alleviation in terms of food security, trade opportunities, promotion of indigenous technical knowledge and greatly to environmental conservation.

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