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Friday, October 4th, 2019

 

This fraud by MPs must be stopped

EDITORIALBy EDITORIAL
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National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi has revisited a matter that has persistently plagued the House, namely poor attendance of parliamentary sessions.

Specifically, the Speaker is infuriated by MPs missing committee meetings, which are vital for they deal with detailed examination of matters before they are presented to the whole House for deliberation, ratification and legislation.

Most of the MPs have developed the notoriety of skipping sessions and, worse, some only turn up to sign attendance to draw allowances but do not participate in the deliberations.

This poor participation is undermining proceedings in the House. Matters cannot be discussed in the House before committees pronounce themselves on them.

The committees deal with distinctive and specialised areas and the members should be experts on those areas so that they bring skills and experience in interrogating issues and guiding the House.

FOREIGN TRAVELS

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In the current structure, ministers are not MPs, and that means ministerial matters are presented and interrogated at the committee level. The committees also handle ministerial questions raised in the House.

Given the level of work expected of the committees, members must demonstrate utmost commitment.

For it is only through intense deliberations and reflections that competent motions can be tabled before the whole House. When committees fail to do their bit, legislation is delayed and government policies immensely compromised.

It is inconceivable for people to fight so hard to go to Parliament but once there fail to do what they are elected for.

Paradoxically, many MPs never miss the opportunity to tour the countryside, politicking and fighting opponents.

Most MPs are notorious for demanding foreign travels under the guise of the so-called benchmarking missions.

RULE OF LAW

Some are equally loud when issuing impeachment threats against government officials whom they cannot manipulate. Largely, there are many MPs who are opportunists and only good at fleecing the public.

MPs who miss parliamentary sessions are defrauding the public and must be penalised and the practice stopped. By dint of their positions, MPs should demonstrate fidelity to the rule of law.

They have to be beyond reproach. Unfortunately, those are abstractions not tenable within the ranks of our leadership.

We concur with the Speaker that absentee MPs should be defrocked and removed from the committees.


Give all hopefuls a chance

EDITORIALBy EDITORIAL
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The Football Kenya Federation (FKF) Annual General Meeting takes place today at Safari Park Hotel in Nairobi.

Delegates from 20 branches, men and women’s Kenya Premier League, Super League, Division One, Players Welfare, Coaches Association and Referees Association will participate in the meeting, chaired by FKF President Nick Mwendwa, to discuss matters affecting the game.

However, the biggest issue is the upcoming elections, scheduled for December. Besides setting the dates, the meeting is to adopt the Electoral Board and the Electoral Code.

The main focus is on the 26-page Electoral Code that the current FKF leadership wants ratified and adopted ahead of the elections.

Among others, the Electoral Code proposes that anyone seeking election as the federation president must have a running mate.

The pair must get support from at least five of the 20 FKF branches and one club taking part in the men and women’s KPL, Super League, Division One, and Women Division One league.

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They must also get clearance from the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, present a certificate of good conduct from the Kenya Police, as well as a tax compliance certificate from the Kenya Revenue Authority.

While we acknowledge that those intending to vie for the top positions must be men and women of integrity, the delegates should avoid adopting rules that are geared towards locking out other credible candidates.

Delegates should bear in mind that the country’s football standards are at the lowest ebb despite Harambee Stars qualifying for the Africa Cup of Nations.

Sponsors have been hard to come by and FKF has been over reliant on the government to support its programmes.

This is quite detrimental to the growth of the game. KPL is now without sponsors which has grave repercussions on the game and especially clubs.

That is why the delegates must be sober and honest when adopting the rules. They should not be lured with freebies and goodies to make wrong decisions. Whatever they do must be aimed at promoting the sport.


Toshikazu Yamanishi grabs race walk gold, Gathimba 32nd

AFPBy AFP
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Japan’s Toshikazu Yamanishi is the 20km race walk champion after clocking 1:26:34 in Doha on Saturday.

Russia’s Vasiliy Mizinov, who is competing as a neutral athlete, was second in 1:26:49 while Swedish Perseus Karlström took bronze in 1:27:00.

Kenya’s Samuel Gathimba finished 32nd in 1:40:45 in his debut at the World Championships.

The Kenyan, who took bronze at the 2018 Commonwealth games in Gold Coast, found the going tough at the global event in Doha.


Meet the queen of banana flour cakes

CAROLINE WAMBUIBy CAROLINE WAMBUI
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Wheat is usually the first ingredient that comes to the mind when one thinks of baking. Have you ever thought of other types of flour that are equally good, healthy, nourishing and gluten-free?

Some 800 metres from Chuka town, right behind Chuka Girls, Nancy Kendi’s love for good food has pushed her to use the nutritive underutilised flours.

Kendi makes her pastries from sorghum, banana, pearl millet, cassava and banana flour. She also uses herbs and spices to season up some of her products.

The 29-year-old business administration graduate says the flour provides sustainable quantities of nutrients, especially for people on tight budgets, the elderly and the young, “yet it is not consumed in the right proportions”.

“To create an avenue for a higher nutritional intake in a semi-arid region like Tharaka-Nithi, I had to devise an appealing way to make locals take up nutrients in these foods which are readily available, but largely ignored,” she said.

Kendi started baking using the unique flour in 2016 as a way of doing away with “the usual boring way of mashing, boiling or roasting food”. She makes banana chapati, banana cake, banana crisps, banana chevdas, beetroot cake, composite cake and many other delicacies.

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Kendi started by baking for her family before offering her products to friends. “Every time I saw my family and friends enjoy the snacks, I was sure they were getting the right nutrients,” Kendi explains.

She sources the flour from registered self-help groups. Upon getting the flour, Kendi works on the quantities as she has a variety of recipes.

She says many people are ignorant of the fact that traditional flour can improve their health. She learnt to bake at meetings organised by the county Agriculture department.

She also attended UN Food and Agriculture Organisation workshops at the Kaguru farm in Meru County in February.

HEALTHY BENEFITS

She also got opportunities to showcase her skills and products at various forums, including the Devolution Conference in Kirinyaga and in Njoro, Nakuru County, during World Food Day on October 16, 2018. To improve her skills, Kendi enrolled for online baking classes.

“Food and nutrition play an important role in determining and maintaining our health,” Kendi told Seeds Of Gold, adding that consumption of whole-grain products, especially in developing countries, is far below what is recommended by experts.

She says people should take advantage of the nutritional aspects of the neglected flour to live healthy. Many plants, she says, have important nutrients and therapeutic properties.

“These different types of flour have many uses. The foods are easily digested. The flour is readily available and cheap,” Kendi said. Millet, for example, provides a wide range of health benefits.

It contains minerals, dietary fibre, and protein. It also has a significant amount of vitamins and is a source of macronutrients, she added.

“Sorghum improves digestion and has dietary fibre. It prevents bloating and cramping,” she said.

“It manages diabetes and helps improve bone health due to the high quantity of calcium. Sorghum increases the circulation of copper, iron, zinc, magnesium, calcium and other minerals in the body. Cassava is rich in vitamins, minerals and is a good source of vitamin C.”

The benefits of traditional flour are countless, said Benald Kinoti, a nutritionist and extension officer in Meru County.

“They are gluten and aflatoxin-free and are packed with nutrients. They are actually better than any one single product of wheat,” he said.

“The banana, cassava, millet and other flour aid in the production of [beneficial] bacteria.”


My milk profits have grown, thanks to AI

VITALIS KIMUTAIBy VITALIS KIMUTAI
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A simple barbed wire fence rings the farm in Mengwet village, Bomet County. Rows of banana, sunflower and vegetable plants greet visitors. Napier grass, sorghum and lucerne grass dance to the tune of a light wind.

It is on this land that Wesley Bett also keeps chickens and 15 zero-grazing dairy cows, the mainstay of his business.
He started the farm in 2015 with two indigenous cows that produced a total of nine litres of milk a day.

Bett later sold the animals. He bought a cross-breed for Sh50,000. The animal could produce 10 litres of milk every day.

“After a while, I bought a pure Friesian cow for Sh100,000. It was a good investment as the animal produced 15 litres of milk daily. At the time, I had not yet started inseminating the cow artificially,” he said.

Most of the calves produced by the cow were bulls. Bett sold three and donated one to a church.

“I was not happy so I sought the advice of a livestock expert, who helped me formulate a herd expansion plan,” the farmer said.

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“I approached Co-op Bank for a Sh1 million loan, which I used to buy eight cows in December 2007. One went for Sh100,000.”

The five cows produce 100 litres of milk daily. The farmer, alongside many of his colleagues in the area, takes his milk to the Olbutyo Dairy Cooperative Society, which buys a litre at Sh35.

“I keep Friesian and Ayrshire cows and have fully adopted artificial insemination. I take advantage of the subsidised AI service that was launched by the Bomet government some years ago. The county Agriculture department sells sexed-semen at Sh1,000 while the unsexed is Sh200,” Bett, an ICT trainee, told Seeds Of Gold.

He grows Boma Rhodes grass on an acre and has leased 10 where he grows maize and other fodder for making silage.

FOLLOW VACCINATION PROGRAMMES

At any given time of the year, Bett has silage that can last six months. He feeds his dairy animals at 6am, 10am, 3pm and 7pm. Water is readily available throughout the day.

“My dream is to start a commercial dairy feeds enterprise. I want to be self-sufficient and be able to sell the feeds to other farmers through our cooperative society,” said Bett, who has already bought a feed mixer.

He sells his sunflower seeds to an oil processor and uses the cake to make animal feeds at home. The feeds Bett makes supplement the commercial ones he buys. Bett has employed four people, with three attached to the dairy unit and the other dealing with poultry.

“I have 120 kienyeji chickens. A hundred of them are hens. On average, I get 80 eggs a day, selling one at Sh15,” he said, adding that the income from the birds runs his home. To avoid tragedies that come with diseases and pests, Bett works with vets and agronomists.

“I started engaging experts two years ago when I almost lost one of my animals to foot-and-mouth disease. I realised my herd had not been vaccinated,” the farmer said.

Robert Langat, a veterinarian, says Kenyan farmers should follow vaccination programmes if they want to have healthy animals.

“There is an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in this part of the country every year,” said Langat. He advises farmers to maintain high levels of hygiene in their dairy units. The units, he adds, should have proper drainage and be cleaned regularly to keep the floors dry.

In numbers

Sh35: The price of a litre of milk at Olbutyo Cooperative Society.
120: The number of kienyeji chickens that Wesley Bett has.
2015: The year Bett started his farm. It is in Mengwet village, Bomet County.
Sh50,000: The cost of the cross-breed cow Bett bought.
Sh100,000: The price of the pure Friesian cow that Bett bought. It produced 15 litres of milk daily.


Accept technology for country’s food security

GILBERT ARAP BORBy GILBERT ARAP BOR
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I was appalled to read in the Nation of October 1 of the impending food shortages in Kenya.

However, I was encouraged by Industry CS Peter Munya’s announcement that the government would revive Mount Kenya Textile Mills in Nanyuki.

When President Uhuru Kenyatta commissioned a cotton mill in Eldoret mid this year, he gave us hope about the future of farming and technology.

He directed the Agriculture, Industry, Environment, Health and Education ministers to speed up commercialisation of GMO cotton.

It meant that Kenya finally would lift a ban that has hurt farmers and prevented us from achieving food security.

The problem is that in the months since his visit, we have made no progress beyond our 20th century methods. We’re no closer to producing GMO cotton.

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For a decade, I have observed how this safe technology has helped farmers around the world, from the United States to South Africa. By reducing threats posed by pests and weeds, it has allowed farmers to get record-setting yields.

Access to GMOs is crucial for a developing country like Kenya, where millions depend on farming and malnutrition is rife. We must find creative and durable ways to increase the income of farmers and fight hunger.

FEED THE NEW MILL

The GMOs will not accomplish this by themselves but they are an important part of the formula. In his address at Eldoret Cotton Mill, Mr Kenyatta talked of the demand for GMO cotton. If the mill is to run at full capacity, it will need a reliable supply of cotton.

To achieve this, farmers will require access to GMOs that neutralise attacks by bollworms. This cotton will feed the new mill and half a dozen others that have been shut down. GMO has the potential to help them roar back to life.

Wherever cotton farmers have gained access to GMOs, they’ve rushed to take advantage of them. In India, for example, an estimated 97 percent of cotton farmers plant GMO varieties. They chose that voluntarily after seeing its benefits.

Maize is the next obvious opportunity for GMO adoption. As a grower of maize, I’m aware of how GMOs can improve my produce and profits. This tool would help me kill the insects that destroy crops without the complication of using pesticides.

Kenyans can complain about colonialism and racism and how the world neglects Africa — but in the case of GMOs, the fact is that we have denied ourselves a great opportunity.
We have seen what GMOs can do for farmers and consumers. Let’s allow this miracle to improve our lives.

Four months ago in Eldoret, President Kenyatta gave voice to the opportunity. It is up to the five ministers to push for the commercialisation of GMOs so that Kenya’s farmers can begin to grow the crops as soon as next year. This is the moment of action.


Technology, snail products and pomp at Nairobi international trade fair

LEOPOLD OBIBy LEOPOLD OBI
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MERCY WAHITOBy MERCY WAHITO
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The Nairobi International Trade Fair returned this year with fanfare, pomp and new technology. Hundreds of stalls have been put up at Jamhuri Showground showcasing steer auctions, dairy and beef cattle, sheep, goats and poultry.

There are also stands for research and new technology. It is the 118th edition of the Agricultural Society of Kenya fair. It registered 340 exhibitors from as far as southern Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

President Uhuru Kenyatta, who opened the show on Wednesday, announced plans to hire young people in the food-security industry.

Technology at the fair

1. Multigrater
This is a simple machine used for chopping or grating fruits and tubers. David Chitayi, an engineer at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology is the brains behind the grater.

The machine grates fruits and tubers to allow faster drying. The grated fruit or tuber is then dispensed into a container.

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“Conventionally, people chop cassava, potatoes or pumpkin before drying and milling them. However, you cannot do that if they are in bulk,” Mr Chitayi said.

The machine, which can grate up to 260 kilogrammes of cassava per hour, preserves the original taste and colour for more than six months. It is economical, using just 1.1KW of electricity per hour.

2. Fruit pulper

Also developed by JKUAT researchers is the pulper. It is used for making fruit purée. The pulper has been adopted by businesses in mango and orange-growing counties.

Livestock handlers restrain bulls being taken to the auctioning ring (left) and a man demonstrates how to shear a sheep (right) during the Nairobi ASK Show.Livestock handlers restrain bulls being taken to the auctioning ring (left) and a man demonstrates how to shear a sheep (right) during the Nairobi ASK Show. PHOTOS | FRANCIS NDERITU | NMG

Chitayi says pulping fruits enhances their shelf life and makes transport easier. The machine can pulp more than 450 kilos of fruits per hour and is a modest consumer of electricity.

3. Snail cosmetics

Rearing snails for consumption and income is new in Kenya. JKUAT researchers have come up with value-addition avenues for the molluscs. Smile, which can be harvested to make cosmetics, has medicinal value, the researchers say.

Ivy Rosio, a student at JKUAT, says the African giant is the most preferred among the snail breeds in the country.

“It can be bred anywhere, as long as the temperature is low. Humidity should be high. It is important to provide the snails with water,” she explained, adding that the slime can be used to make face creams.

JKUAT student, Ivy Rosio explains to enthusiasts how to use snail slime to make lotion (left) and an innovative way to grow vegetables (right) using tyres which was developed by Kenya Seed Company, and which is ideal for urban households.JKUAT student, Ivy Rosio explains to enthusiasts how to use snail slime to make lotion (left) and an innovative way to grow vegetables (right) using tyres which was developed by Kenya Seed Company, and which is ideal for urban households. PHOTOS | FRANCIS NDERITU | NMG

The awards

The 2019 Presidential National Farmers Competition Award Scheme winners
1. Women in Agriculture – Beth Wairimu Kinuthia (Nyandarua County)
2. Youth in Agriculture –Caroline Mukuhi (Kiambu)
3. Phyiscally Challenged in agriculture – Jonathan Keter Trans (Nzoia County)

Best stand categories

1. Best non-agricultural based statutory board stand – Athi Waterworks Development Agency.
2. Best stand in media services – Presidential Strategic Communication Unit.
3. Best regulatory authority and corporation stand – (Kephis).
4. Best stand displaying initiatives in provision of viable transport services – Kenya National Highways Authority.
5. Best local manufacturers stand –New KCC.
6. Best financial institution (other than bank) – Kenya Industrial Estate.
7. Best display and presentation insurance services – National Hospital Insurance Fund.


Kalro upbeat as it develops improved cassava varieties

GAITANO PESSABy GAITANO PESSA
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Researchers are banking on new cassava varieties to encourage alternative farming in the wake of reduced maize yields in Kenya. Some high-yielding varieties recently developed include TME 2004, TME 14, Nasa 13 and Nasa 14.

These are in a pool of 30 cassava seed varieties that have also proved to be drought and disease and pest-resistant.

The Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (Kalro) says the varieties can withstand cassava brown streak and cassava mosaic, two diseases that drastically reduce harvests.

Lead scientist Douglas Miano, who is in charge of developing the tuber under VIRCA plus project at the Kalro Busia station, said the case for the uptake of the new varieties has been made strong by improved yields.

“The minimum we can get from these varieties is 30 tonnes of cassava per hectare. That is three times what a farmer gets from the traditional types,” Dr Miano said at the Kalro station in Alupe during an inspection.

“It means we can multiply production threefold by just managing diseases and pests.”

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He added that once the agency is given the green light by State regulators, it would be ready to release the seeds to farmers.

“The zymogenic potential assessment cleared poisonous effects synonymous with some cassava varieties,” Dr Miano said.

“These varieties are not necessarily going to replace the ones farmers are growing but they will reduce incidents of food poisoning that arise from consuming raw cassava.”

PROCESSED INTO FLOUR

Some traditional cassava is known to have cyanide. Kalro Director-General Eliud Kireger, however, said distributing the seeds to farmers could be delayed because the government has not lifted the 2012 ban on GM crops.

“The ban has affected our efforts. We hope it will soon be lifted to enable Kenyan farmers to get high-quality cassava seeds,” Dr Kireger said.

The Kalro boss said there is a need for diversification, adding that the country should not rely on mainstream crops like maize, tea and sugarcane that have borne the brunt of erratic climatic conditions and low prices.

“Cassava is a drought-resistant crop. Dried cassava can be processed into flour, which can be used for ugali, crisps, cakes and other foods. It can also be used in the pharmaceutical and beauty industries,” he said.

Dried cassava leaves can be fed to livestock and eaten as vegetables if prepared properly. Farmers and cassava processors alike lauded the development, saying it would revive the subsector that has been in rapid decline for the past two decades, a situation blamed on diseases and pests.

Tangakona Commercial Village processor official Catherine Otaga could not hide her excitement.

“Of the 1,000 tonnes of cassava we receive from local farmers, at least 200 kilogrammes are spoilt,” she said. “This is a loss to the farmers and processors. We need certified seeds that are high yielding to benefit the companies and growers.”

Cassava is a staple food for many residents of Busia, Siaya, Kisumu, Homa Bay, Migori and several other counties in western Kenya.

It is also popular in the Coast region and some northern counties. It can easily be produced by a low-income farmer.


Agronomist notebook: Considering agribusiness? Plan ahead

ANN MACHARIABy ANN MACHARIA
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At the initial stages of any business, there is always the need to have a plan. The plan gives an overview of the activities and the expenditure the business is likely to incur.

As a tool that helps one to acquire capital in the form of loans and grants, a business plan has three main components – the investment capital, production cost and a marketing strategy.

While writing the plan, a farmer needs to consider the overall vision and mission of the crop production investment. These include the short and long-term objectives of the agribusiness.

This means one is required to highlight the steps that are expected to develop the business for a particular period, say five years.

The business plan, therefore, highlights the direction of the project and it should be specific, measurable, achievable and time-bound or simply “smart”.

Farmers need to understand the purpose of a business in order to develop the mission statement of their investments.

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If, for example, a farmer is writing a tomato-business plan, he should have a goal of producing specific quantities, say, by the end of the first season and the entire production period. The mission of the farmer could be to become the leading supplier of the tomatoes in a particular region.

Before preparing the business plan, it is important to conduct a primary survey to familiarise oneself with the background information of the farm.

This takes into account the acreage, location, water sources, conservational soil practices, methods of tillage and others. The investor also needs to consider the current operating costs of the farm. How much, for example, will you spend on irrigation and what is the plan?

This then means one would need to evaluate the value of irrigation in the tomato block and how to reduce the cost while maximising production.

It is at this point that the farmer would consider pumping water using solar batteries and panels if the cost is lower than diesel or mains electricity.

FUTURE OPERATING EXPENSES

Once this is identified, the farmer should develop a strategy for implementing the plan. Most importantly, gather adequate information in line with the market demands and supply. You should also have information on market trends and your competitors.

Conduct a SWOT analysis. This means identifying your strength, weakness, opportunities and threats to your investment.

The threats include government regulations such as pesticides to be used in the production and pests and diseases likely to affect the production of your crop.

One should also create an alternative strategy should there be a threat. Before working on the implementation plan, the investor needs to consider the advantages and disadvantages of the project. The farmer should have many strategies that strengthen his or her internal strength.

The investor should also have a blueprint of market strategies. One should consider where he will market the produce, the least costly means of transport and other factors. It is also at this point that the farmer signs contracts with the people or organisations he intends to supply the produce to.
These include families, learning institutions, companies, supermarkets, hospitals, restaurants and retailers. The investor can also identify a location to set up an outlet for his produce.

The marketing strategy should be based on a survey done on a particular locality because that determines the price of the commodity.

While developing the plan, it is also important to find out the cost of what you intend to produce. The potential investor should identify the amount of money required in the implementation plan and the payback period of the capital. The farmer should also consider the method he will use to settle taxes and other charges.

If, for example, one invests Sh500,000 in the first year of production, the amount should have been recovered in the third year.

In this case, one should list the current finances and the operating costs in detail. It is also vital to include future operating expenses in the investment plan.

Once this is done, start working on implementing your agribusiness.


Vet on call: When twins are not a blessing on a farm