Sunday, September 18, 2011

Energy-Saving Stoves Project

In most schools the provided food rations are prepared on the traditional three-stone open fire stove. Firewood in the urban setting is expensive and it is not unusual for urban schools to spend Kshs. 10,000-35,000 per month to cover firewood expenses. Parents are responsible for the provision of firewood at the school level. As many families survive on less than US$1 a day, the parental contribution required places a burden on the children.

In addition, studies show that excessive use of firewood and charcoal contributes to environmental degradation throughout the country. Between 1990 and 2005, Kenya lost 5%, or around 186,000 hectares, of its forest cover.

High capacity energy-saving stoves are available in Kenya. The stoves save 40-70 percent of firewood compared to the three-stone open fire stove and are equipped with a chimney that provides a smoke-free cooking environment. Unfortunately, the cost for these stoves is high ranging from Kshs. 110,000-240,000 for 200-600 liter stoves. It is estimated that one half of a liter is required per child. Although schools will save a considerable amount of money over time by investing in energy-saving stoves, the upfront cost is too high for most schools.

In an effort to address the challenges of firewood, WFP plans to expand its pilot Energy-Saving Stoves Project in schools under the school meals programme which has seen the installation of 50 energy-saving stoves over the last year. By installing and using energy-saving stoves, schools will save up to 70 percent of firewood. The savings will benefit the school, the families, and the environment alike. The stoves, which last for decades, require minimum maintenance, are locally produced in Kenya, and can easily be serviced. The stoves are made from stainless steel, bricks and fireproof cement.

Carbon Credit Project on Energy Saving Stoves

In conjunction with the purchase of the energy-saving stoves, WFP is in the process of applying for a carbon credit project through the Clean Development Mechanism under the Kyoto Protocol, as the purchase would decrease emission of CO2. If approved, the generated credits will be available one year after implementation and WFP will utilize the credits to purchase more energy-saving stoves.

Project Outcomes
-Reduce amount of firewood requirements by 40 to 70 percent and the associated costs in the targeted schools;
-Reduce number of suspended meal preparations due to lack of firewood;

-Reduce financial burden on parents in the management of School Meals Programme;
-Reduce deforestation in Kenya;
-Reduced indoor air pollution and improved respiratory and general health of cooks;
-Reduced cooking time;
-Reduced time spent gathering firewood; and,
-Generate local employment through stove production.

Friday, July 22, 2011


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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Prepare fodder early, for the dry season

Farmers can avoid dry fodder shortages by conserving it when it is plenty during the wet season. (Article from Organic farmer)

If we go by recent weather forecasts, the country is likely to experience a more severe drought in the coming dry season beginning next month. Livestock farmers might face problems in getting fodder and pasture for their animals. But this should not be the case if farmers plan ahead to determine their feed requirements and take fodder conservation measures.

Farmers have been blessed with adequate rains since the beginning of the year. The rains have provided most parts of the country with plenty of pasture. It may be too late to prepare hay or silage now, but after harvest, a lot of crop residue from maize, beans and other crops will be available this month and December. A wise farmer can make good use of these residues and improve their nutritional value by properly conserving them.

Planning ahead is the solution

Farmers should never wait for the dry season to start preparing fodder. It is always better to do this when there is plenty of green foliage on the farm. Excess grasses and legumes should be harvested during the rainy season. If they are slightly dried and stored, they provide high quality fodder during the dry season. Maize, Napier grass, fodder sorghum and fodder legumes can be chopped to make silage. Fodder trees give large amounts of high quality fodder, which is cheaper than buying hay or even feed concentrates.

Tumbukiza and fodder shrubs

If you have planted Napier or other fodder shrubs using the Tumbukiza method (in pits), you may start to add water at the rate of 1 to 2 buckets into every pit every week as soon as the rains stop. The pits retain water better during the dry season and the grass will keep on growing. Fodder legumes such as leucaena, calliandra, lablab, desmodium or purple vetch can still be harvested for some time into the dry season. They can be used dried or wilted and will supplement the low protein and mineral content of low value feeds such as maize stalks.

Collection of crop residue

All crop residue such as maize stalks, bean residues or mature pasture grasses should be collected and dried as early as possible, if possible while they are still green. You may start to strip the lowest maize leaves as soon as the cobs have produced silk. Go through the field every week and strip the lowest leaf of each plant for feeding or for drying and storage. Take care not to remove the leaf directly below a cob and the one above it. When the cobs have reached the soft dough stage, the maize can be cut above the top of the cob. These procedures will not affect maize yields. After harvest, you do not have to waste time collecting the remaining crop residue! You will see, this is work that is worth investing in!

Conservation of crop residue

The next step is to store the residues under dry and shaded conditions that conserve their nutrients. A good structure such as a store is best. You should at least prepare stacks in the shade of a good tree. Direct grazing of animals on crop residue is wasteful: Nutrients are lost quickly in the rain and sun, and the animals trample on the residue, spoiling it through urine and droppings. Therefore, put the fodder in a trough or on a stack where a large percentage of it can be consumed. This saves you money you may have to spend later in buying extra fodder.

Using polythene bags to store fodder

During the wet season there is always excess fodder that animals cannot finish eating. Farmers can either store it as hay or put it into silage bags. Here is how to use polythene bags to store silage:

  1. Chop the fodder into small sizes as explained above. Spread a sheet or canvas tent onto a flat surface. Place 100 kg of chopped fodder on it. Spread it evenly on the canvas.
  2. Dilute 3 kg Kasuku tins of molasses in 3 litres of water. Sprinkle it on the fodder while turning it.
  3. Tie one end of a 2-metre long polythene bag (1.5 metres wide, 1000 gauge) polythene bag. Put the fodder into polythene bag, press and compact it as much as possible. Compact it more while adding until all the fodder fits into the bag. Tie the top of the bag while allowing all remaining air in the bag to escape. Place some weight e.g. a stone on top of the bag to make it more compact. Place the bag in a safe place away from sunlight or rain. The silage is ready for use after two months. It can be stored longer as the farmer wishes.
  4. Expel the air after every time you open the bag to remove silage and tie it tightly to avoid spoilage. Polythene bags cost about Ksh 110 per metre while molasses costs Ksh 300 for a 20-litre jerrycan. In a day an average dairy cow (550 kg body weight), producing 10 to 15 litres of milk requires 16 kg of silage, 4 kg of fresh Napier grass, 6 kg of grass (Rhodes, Kikuyu etc) and 6 kg of concentrates.
  5. All animals should have an unlimited supply of water throughout the day.

Treatment of maize stalks

Maize stalks are available in plenty after harvest. They contain only a few nutrients, and animals find them tough to chew while in this state. There are some methods farmers can use to make it more palatable for their animals:

•Chopping increases acceptability of residues.

•Soaking in water increases residue intake.

•Crop residues are poor in minerals. Sprinkling them with mineral salt is therefore useful and increases intake.

•Soaking in diluted molasses overnight increases intake and provides energy.

•Leguminous fodders are rich in minerals and proteins and increase digestibility of crop residues. They should be supplemented at a rate of not more than 30% of the ration. This corresponds to 10 to 15 kg of fresh leaves (or 3 to 5 kg of dried leaves) per day per cow.

•Concentrates like dairy meal or seed cakes improve protein and energy content of the ration and support milk production.

Hay making is easy and cheap

Harvest forage when the feeding value is high. Pasture for conservation should be cut after 4-6 weeks of re-growth, then dry and store it. Cut the pasture when half of the plants have flowered. Morning is the best time to cut forages for hay because more nutrients are conserved. A mixture of grasses and legumes with a lot of leaves is ideal. The legumes increase digestibility and intake of the conserved forage. Grasses such as Rhodes grass, Congo Signal grass, Guinea grass and Kikuyu grass, are good for hay production.

Dry the cut pasture as quickly as possible. Use a rake to turn the forage several times; this allows quicker wilting. Drying for 2-3 days should be sufficient, depending on the moisture content of the grass. Over-drying gives poor quality hay. Once dry, the hay can be stored loose or in bale-stacks in the field and in the barn. In the field, it should be stored on a raised mice-proof platform to avoid damage by rodents and termites. It should also be covered to avoid damage by rain and sunlight.

Good quality grass hay is able to sustain milk production during the dry season. An average sized cow will require one bale of hay per day if no other feed is available. Remember that when feeding dry matter, a constant supply of water is essential.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

What can you do for your kidneys? – 7 golden rules

Kidney diseases are silent killers, which will largely affect your quality of life. There are however several easy ways to reduce the risk of developing kidney disease.
1. Keeping fit and active.
2. Keep regular control of your blood sugar level
3. Monitor your blood pressure
4. Eat healthy and keep your weight in check
5. Do not smoke
6. Do not take over-the-counter pills on a regular basis
7. Check your kidney function if you have one or more of the 'high risk' factors

Detecting Kidney failure

How to detect renal failure
Kidney failure has no identifiable symptoms in the beginning. But as the condition advances, there are manifest symptoms such as
  1. Exhaustion
  2. Shortness of breath
  3. Abdominal pain
  4. Dark urine
  5. Facial puffiness and Swelling of body parts.

What causes kidney failure?

So...What causes kidney failure?

There are several triggers of kidney failure. Some occur due to injury, while others develop due to complications from diabetes, prostate cancer and kidney stones.
However, a kidney specialist at, says high blood pressure, diabetes and urinary tract infections are the highest causes of kidney failure.
Kidney failure is classified into three categories: pre-renal, renal and post-renal.
Pre-renal, the causes are due to decreased water or blood supply to the kidneys. These include, hypovolemia, a condition whereby there is low blood volume in the body due to excessive blood loss. Dehydration, poor intake of fluids and medication such as water pills are listed as other pre-renal causes of kidney failure.
Renal causes involve direct damage to the kidneys. Sepsis where by the body’s immune system is overwhelmed from infection and causes inflammation and shutdown of the kidneys. Some drugs particularly antibiotics, get toxic and harm kidneys, causing them to fail. Post-renal causes, on the other hand, affect the outflow of urine from the body. The causes include obstruction of the bladder or the ureters, which results in back pressure because the kidneys continue to produce urine. The obstruction acts like a dam, and urine backs up into the kidneys. When pressure increases, the kidneys shut down.

The 10 Reasons to love your kidneys are:

1. Filter 200 liters of blood a day, removing two liters of toxins, wastes and water
2. Regulate the body’s water balance
3. Regulate blood pressure by controlling fluid levels and making the hormone that causes blood vessels to constrict
4. Support healthy bones and tissues by producing the active form of vitamin D
5. Produce the hormone that stimulates bone marrow to manufacture red blood cells
6. Keep blood minerals in balance
7. Keep electrolytes in balance
8. Regulate blood acid levels
9. Remove drugs from the blood
10. Retrieve essential nutrients so that the body can reabsorb them

Friday, February 4, 2011

useful agricultural information

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Alternative Fodder

As a result of prolonged drought linked to climate changes, communities in Mwingi District have now turned to modified alternative fodder for their livestock feeds. Mwingi is an Arid Semi Arid Land (ASAL) area found in lower Eastern Province, it covers a total of six Districts, which are Mwingi Central, Mwingi East, Mwingi West, Kyuso, Tseikuru and Mumoni. Although the area is dry most times of the year, the economic potential is high and cuts across all the sectors. This includes ventures in agricultural activities and trading in quite a number of goods and services.
The climate of the District is generally hot and dry for the greater part of the year. The maximum mean annual temperature ranges between 260 C and 340 C whereas the minimum mean annual temperature ranges between 140 C and 220 C. This translates into an
average annual temperature of 240 C. The District experiences long stretches of dry and hot seasons. Farmers depend on March-August rains and November- December rains.
The area has experienced a one and a half year prolonged drought due to the failure of December 2008 and March 2009 rains.
All forests and crops have dried up as well as the grass and what remains are dry rivers, skeleton of a forest and plain land.
Kyuso District depends on livestock as an economic activity. Last year most cattle died due to hunger and only a few heads survived the drought. Those surviving were thin and weak and vulnerable to diseases and even death. For lack of food, they turned to feeding on plastics, leather shoes and polythene papers.
The Ministry of Agriculture supplied very little relief grass to a few communities that was not enough. The grass distributed was dry that the animals could not feed on without water. The Livestock Agricultural o$ cers were left with no option but to advise the community to feed the animals on anything that has water and is green, so long as they survive.
They gathered into groups to discuss how they can feed their livestock to avoid the deaths. They identifield trees that store water in their roots and stems as a drought coping mechanism, and decided to use them during drought as an alternative livestock feeds.

Livestock alternative feeds
Root tubers ‘Kithunzu’

These are root tubers of a ‘Thurnbegia Guekeana’ tree under the group of climbers. It’s very common in forests and it climbs high on the trees. It has thread like stem and rarely has leaves especially during dry season. Its root tuber is as big as a cassava, with white " esh and is very
juicy. The tubers have a lot of water and cows that feeds on it consumes very little water. It can also be stored for sometime without loosing its water content. It’s tasteless and gum like and the inne flesh has starch content reducing the body weakness in cattle. They are readily available in most areas in Kyuso District.
The farmers have decided that when the rains come, they will plant the tubers for use incase of another drought situation. The root of one plant can grow several plants through propagation. To feed the animals, the roots are uprooted from the forest, washed, and cut into small pieces using a panga. The nutritive value of root tubers has never been established. However, the Kyuso people have used it as a coping strategy over a long period of time without knowing its e! ects. However, It was realised that when goats take too much of it during pregnancy they abort.

Acacia pods ‘Ngaa’ and kales
The Acacia Tree adapts to life in arid land areas. Over many years, the leaves of the acacia have changed to suit the environment in which they thrive.
The leaves are tough and somewhat rubbery. This is because they have to protect themselves against the harsh heat, and the unpredictable amount of rainfall. This particular species of tree has also adapted the colour of its leaves. The leaves of the Acacia are dark green in colour to a medium, or dark brown. The colouring of the leaves prevents them from being burnt, or scorched by the incredibly hot sun. Ripe fruit pods burst open, releasing the seeds, which are dispersed by animals eating the pods.
Kyuso people collect the pods and feed them to the animals.

Acacia galpinii is one of the trees that can survive hot and dry conditions, which is often preferred. It provides dappled shade on hot summer days, making it an ideal tree for planting on a lawn where some sun can penetrate. It has waxy leaves to cut down water loss and long tap roots to reach moisture underground. It is a large tree with luxuriant, light green foliage, making it ideal for a big garden, avenue or park. It is also valued by farmers.

Acacia galpinii is a deciduous tree, losing its leaves during dry season. It is fastgrowing and can reach 25-30 m. Creamy to light yellow " owers appear during the growing season (September-October). Reddish to purplish brown pods ripen during February-March.

Dry grass ‘Nyeki Nyumu’ and dry
Dry grass and leaves are also some of the alternative feeds. This grass is imported from other areas and stored for animal’s consumption. Farmers have stored some of the grass for more than two years. They cut grass and store it at an airy place for it to dry up without rotting. Most people store it on top of a tree, house roof or on a raised ground. After drying the grass, its tied up in bales and stored for use. The Ministry of Agriculture supplies some of the dry grass as relief food.
Leaves are collected from the forest. Sometimes animals are taken to the forest to feed on the leaf litters by themselves.

The ‘Thurnbegia Guekeana’ tree which produces the ‘Kithunzu’ root tuber. The problem with dry grass and leaves is that, they increase thirst when consumed by the animals and yet there’s no water for consumption. In cases where there is water, the animals end up consuming a lot of water leading to death. Most carcases found at the riverbanks died because of consuming a lot of water after feeding on dry leaves from forests.
Dry grass is not nutritious since all nutrients disappear after drying. They are only used to sustain the animals.

Pawpaw stem ‘Mivavai’

Pawpaw is one of the drought resistant fruits. Kenya Forestry Research Institute discovered that fruits like pawpaw, mangoes and oranges can do very well in semi arid lands. Mangoes and pawpaw’s survived the drought. Despite the fact that they did not have fruits, their trees
remained green throughout the drought period.
Pawpaw tree stalk and branches are green and soft. They have a lot of water fluids. Their stalk and branches are good for animals’ consumption. They have nutrients especially vitamins since the tree remains green throughout the season. The pawpaw branches and stalk are cut into pieces and fed to the animals. The stalk is soft but tasteless.


Mr. Fednand Mwengi of Mivukoni location, Kyuso District, has released his animals to his Malia Volkensii farm of more than five hundred trees. He claims that although the trees are valuable, he will feel better if some of his animals survive the drought.
“The ‘Mikau’ tree will dry up immediately it rains, but I will plant more afresh. I was forced to feed the animals on the bark of the trees because my animals were dying and I had no option. I am remaining with only two cows and 8 goats out of 20 cows and 40 goats that I had before the
drought. “It’s so sad” he says.

Despite all these, the animals are still dying. Some of them die due to the abrupt change of nutrition, infections caused by low body immunity and others from thirst.
The people are also insecure consuming meat from Eastern Markets in fear of infections that may lead to death ofhuman as well. Animal food is never enough and no one knows when the drought will end. There are claims that the taste of meat from Eastern Kenya has changed. It used to be the best but is now tasteless and
sticky. With all those alternative feeds, no food comes close to the green grass that is

Climate change e! ects are getting worse everyday. We may experience more intensive droughts and " oods but the Kyuso community with help of ALIN is trying to put in place strategies to help them cope with such situations in future. They are now planning to plant more alternative fodder in preparations of such situations. The government of Kenya should as well chip in by incorporating climate change impacts into vision 2030
to reduce poverty.

Mr. Kisinga Musya of Kakunike area in Kyuso District cuts the pawpaw stalk into pieces, mixes it with some vegetables and feeds it to his cow. He also picks acacia seeds, dries them up and
feeds them to his cow together with kales.
Melia volkensii ‘Mikau
This is a valuable tree for semi arid areas. It’s the most drought resistant tree. Has an e! ective mechanism for accumulating water to all tissues for use in times of extreme water stress. The plant is deeply rooted and exhibits a good degree of resistance to attack by common insects. It is also good for firewood, timber, medicine, fodder, bee forage, shade, and mulch and soil
conservation. It’s intercropped with food crops in arid land areas with no adverse effect on the yield.
The animals are released to the Melia Volkensii farm to feed on the bark of the tree.