Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Addressing information gap empowers a farmer to venture into African Indigenous vegetable farming

African indigenous crops have been found to be highly nutritive, containing medicinal value and adaptive to changing weather patterns. During information gap analysis on June 2012, many enquiries were recorded and it’s from this time when a farmer showed his interest in growing African indigenous vegetables though he lacked the necessary information.

When ALIN and PA partnered to address farmers enquiries, many information gaps were addressed through individual farmer visits and organized training. Mr Francis Mburu has always been visiting Nguruman Maarifa centre to access information. During our visit, Mr Mburu recorded an enquiry on how to cultivate night black shade and cow peas, African indigenous vegetables gaining popularity among many markets, both local and upcountry. He also narrated how he had followed up and found a market for the vegetables at certain hotel at Magadi. However, the farmer did not have enough information on how to venture in the enterprise. Nguruman Maarifa centre library information played a vital role in addressing the need.

Black night shade vegetables on Mr Mburus Farm
Since the farmer was literate, he was directed to borrow African indigenous vegetables books available at the library. Other extra information was downloaded from on-line sites and shared with the farmer. The farmer followed up on the information and got the crops varieties suitable for his area from Magadi division crops extension officer where he then ventured in to the business. The farmer has been cultivating his crops on a two acre piece of land supplying his produce  since march and has seen a growing market for the same. He has also been selling his produce locally to vegetable vendors at Entasopia and Oloibortoto markets. Mr Mburu has also learned the value of other traditional crops and has considered planting cassava and sweet potatoes, a project he believes will soon boost his family earnings further.

Mr Mburu helping a customer to harvest cow peas vegetable blocks
 Since he ventured in to the business, his family earning have improved. He has been able to pay school fees for his two children in secondary school with earnings gained from the venture. His family diet has also improved as the African indigenous vegetables have constituted most part of his family diet. Mr Mburu has also planted other indigenous crops like cassava and sweet potatoes which will help boost food security for his family. He has also shared the information with farmers who are willing to adopt and he says if all goes well, he will be able to have higher supplies thus reaching higher markets up-country.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Maarifa centre community library promotes a reading culture among students and residents

Residents and students around Nguruman have every reason to thank ALIN for Nguruman Maarifa centre, a facility they say has promoted reading culture among students and other community members. Commending after accessing daily nation on-line version, Mr. James Kamango a teacher by profession could not hide his joy and commented ALIN for keeping the community updated by enabling access to internet services, a service he says can only be accessed some 45 kilometers away through a rough terrain with unreliable transport means.

"I'm pleased to see my daughters coming to read from the library since they closed for April Holidays... I have seen  some improvement in their performance at school and i can attribute this to the books they have been borrowing from the Maarifa centre. I have also been using the facility to  access on-line teaching materials and daily happenings from on-line news sites."

James is an ICT graduate and says that, the skills gained have helped him use computers with ease.

Students reading at Nguruman Maarifa  library

A community member at the Maarifa centre library
Maureen Omondi, a teacher at Entasopia primary school says that, she has personally benefited from the facility and has seen students using  the facility improve in their performance in  school.

“I have been able to pass all my exams and submit my assignments on time as compared to my other classmates in rural schools where there are no library services. I have been using the library to prepare my class notes and doing my assignments… I'm currently doing a ECD course and the library has been instrumental in my study since it has a wide range of educational material… I have also noted some improvements in student performances especially in national exams.. I urge other community members to use the library. thanks to ALIN for the facility.”

The library has a diverse range of information materials including, Agriculture, health, business, technical skills, history, Education among others. Community members including professionals have been using the facility  to borrow books. Mr Alfred Nyambane, a nurse has been borrowing nursing books which he says have helped strengthen his skills.

“I have been able to improve my skills and my general knowledge on health issue after using the library materials. The facility has good advanced nursing books for all health practitioners. Thanks for the service"
A community member accessing on-line materials with her laptop at the Maarifa centre library
During Maarifa centre outreach activities supported by ALIN and Practical Action, different information gaps were identified among farmers. some of the materials were available at the Maarifa centre library although the farmers were not aware. Mr. Francis Mburu, a farmer had an enquiry concerning African indigenous vegetable, a puzzle that was solved after accessing agricultural materials available at the library.

“I have been using the library to read information on indigenous vegetables and this has motivated me to venture in to growing a variety of African indigenous vegetables. This boosted my family income and enabled me to pay  school fees for my two children in secondary school as well as improving  family diet...  I also realized that, there is a growing demand for the product and a ready market for the same… Thanks to ALIN and Practical action for enabling Access to free information and addressing our information needs ”