My community is extremely grateful for the purchase of the mill to grind cassava to make food staples. The income of our community has increased greatly. I am not through though. My goal is to keep working to help my community to be as prosperous as possible. It is in that vein that I relay the information below.
Dr. Joseph Kamau (a cassava expert from the Ministry of Agriculture) told the PATHWAYS scholars a story at the PATHWAYS annual meeting in 2008. It was a story of a Nigerian who came to Kenya and lacked cassava gari- Nigeria’s staple food. The Nigerian man decided to hire a small plot of land and started growing cassavas. Later, he purchased a bigger plot of land and grow more cassava. Thereafter, he started a small processing plant to add value to the cassavas that he was producing. Recently, he put up even another factory. He mainly exports cassava products to foreign markets. It is amazing that he is the only person doing that in the greater Eastern Africa region. In Dr. Kamau's words, " he is minting money."
I have always desired to expose our community to such an experience so that at least they know what the cassavas that they are growing can be processed into. When I was on a long university vacation in January, I decided to go to the Ministry of Agriculture Headquarters to seek assistance. After 5 visits, I was introduced to one – Dr. Martha Sila. She is the National head of the Root – crops Division. I absolutely narrated to her the story of our project, the support of PATHWAYS, of you, the Global Giving community and our objectives. She was impressed. She agreed to sponsor us to visit the Nigerian’s factories, as I had requested. I was pushing for 100 community members to participate, but she limited the number to 60 because they wanted to see only one bus used.
The 60 participants were selected as a perfect representative of the community: women, men, youth, middle-aged and the aged. They visited last month. They went to the 2 factories. One is at Kasikeu, in the interior of Sultan Hamud and the other is at the lower end of the Makueni County. This is a 8 – hour one way journey from our area. All the expenses of the exposure tour were catered for.
The community members were very excited and motivated. They were more than elated for experiencing what they could only imagine before. Please see the photos of the trip.
Thank you for your continued support- you are changing lives for the better!
5th Report March 16, 2012
Nafisa Ayuka’s report - Improvement of girl child education through raising poultry and sanitary towels.
Sewing: The women are continuing with the project well with sewing of uniforms and clothes (see photo of women with finished hand made clothes). The sewing machines help immensely with the work so we can make more clothes and uniforms each day. The women make clothes and uniforms both for themselves and their children and also for sale to others. This is a big economic boost. The proceeds help the women help their children with school fees.
Sanitary towels: A set of reusable sanitary towels was given to local adolescent girls (see photo). The girls have little money to pay for sanitary towels so this service of giving them the towels for free is very much appreciated by them and their mothers. The girls have been practicing making the towels on their won and are pleased with their new-found skill.
Poultry: The poultry project is going on well. The number of chickens is continuing to increase (see photo of chickens). Profits from selling the chickens averages approximately $60 per month. The profits are shared among the community members. The money makes it easier on families to pay school fees for their children especially girls.
I am in my last semester of university and am looking forward to graduating and getting a teaching job.
Working with my community on this project has really developed leadership skills in me that I can use in the future.
Thank you sincerely for your contributions to help me help my community.
Dennis Mutwiri’s project – Solar panels, planting trees and fish farming.
Fish: We bought materials to complete fencing of the pond and fencing will resume after members set a day to work on this (see photo of pond). I had reported earlier that the Ministry had supplied us with 300 fingerlings. The group had earlier made effort to put more fingerlings ahead of the Ministry's supply. In total, the pond holds approximately 700 fish with around 400 ready for sale. In terms of feeding, the Ministry provides food for the fish. In October last year, we received 100 Kg of fish feeds. This will go a long way since a grown fish consumes only 3g daily. We have appointed a chairperson who attends the fish daily and attends seminars regarding fish farming frequently.
As at now, at least two thirds of the pond's population is ready for market.
The Ministry had allocated four ponds in our location, however, it is only our pond that has survived and raised the fish. The rest failed. This has impacted us negatively in the sense that the Ministry meant to market our product in bulk. The targeted quantity is cannot be reached as at now hence the delay. My group officials are however negotiating with the responsible officers to get things done.
Tree nursery: We realized that the most demanded trees are the exotic ones. This realization came by when the forestry department that had agreed to purchase the indigenous breed failed us. We were only able to sell very few of the trees and distributed others to members who were willing to plant them. It is from this that we put up an exotic trees nursery in September so that the trees would be ready during the April/May long rains (see photo of tree nursery). In the previous season, three of our members planted 50 exotic trees from our nursery. The trees are now grown and will be of benefit soon.
Solar power:The project is fairly doing well. We are still carrying on green energy campaign in the region. The main challenge of late is the government's initiative to electrify rural areas under Rural Electrification Authority. This has greatly shifted the region's interests from solar to electric power. We are hoping that they will soon see some sense in what we stand for with time.
However, those who are continuing to purchase the solar kit are at the moment reaping a great deal of benefits. See the photo of a member who is using the power for lighting and powering a radio set. Commercially, he charges people's mobile phones in the neighborhood at the rate of sh. 10 per phone. He uses the money to repay the solar. He says that, of late he has cut costs on fuel and charging his own phone and those the rest of the family members.
We are looking forward to intensify this trend among the members and community in general.
Merry go round or loan group: This project has been of immense benefit to every member in the group. Three members can now borrow sh. 10000 while five can borrow up to sh. 8000. The interest rate is still 10%. Initially, we were loaning out everything to make our capital grow. But from the 15th of February, the members agreed that they will be banking sh. 4000 monthly to secure the project.
The group members agreed to save money in all the projects in order to start other projects like sheep rearing which is more viable and profitable.
Thank you for your support of these projects in my community. We are really making progress!
Michael Murigi’s report -Growing cassava for food security and income.
Mill: Great news! The necessary bank transactions were made for payment of the mill. The mill was purchased to better utilize the cassava crops the community has grown. Flour can be made from the cassava then turned into food products to sell. On Saturday, we received a notification from the firm that they had already received the total amount that they had asked for. Meanwhile, the owner of the premises that we are renting has been very co-operative. To ensure total security of the mill, yesterday, we spent the day reinforcing the roof. I am very pleased to inform you that the mill installation process was completed yesterday and the milling started immediately (see photo). The mill will be of great help to the community as it can mill not only cassavas but also grains including corn. Today, we are putting on a firm wooden ceiling. Tomorrow, we will be fencing. The next day, we will be reinforcing the door and the windows.
On behalf of our community, please accept our big THANK YOU to you for supporting us. We have really appreciated their gestures of kindness and generosity. We lack the best words to express our appreciation. You have assisted us a great deal in ensuring the development and sustainability of our project. We will not let you down.
Again, THANK YOU, indeed.
Murang'a County, Kenya
I am very excited to announce to you that we were able to purchase and install the mill to grind the cassava. The community is so happy! The building housing the mill was also renovated and electricity availed with the owner's assistance. The machine installation was completed on Friday, 17th February. The milling operation started immediately.
One of the great advantages of the mill is that the machines cannot only mill cassavas but also grains including corn. Another advantage is the reduced cost. We decided that the mill would be a social enterprise for the benefit of the community. Therefore the price charged for the milling service has been heavily subsidized. For 3kg of chopped cassavas or grains, we are charging Ksh. 10 (less than $0.10). The other millers charge Ksh. 30 for the 3kg of cassavas or grains. This is a great relief to a community wallowing in abject poverty. Plus, we are very sure that the income accruing is enough to sustain the mill and support other activities in the project.
Finally, another advantage is the reduced price for milling. Before the mill you helped us purchase was put in place, the community members would have to purchase the milling service 7 kilometres away at Sabasaba town. Now, the mill is so close! Women are particularly excited and relieved of the agony and time spent in walking the long distance. They can now attend to more chores. Beyond any shred of doubt, the mill has proved to be a great achievement in the fight for food security. We can’t thank you enough!
Please see attached the following photos.
Photo a : The building housing the mill. Remember, this is the building that appears on our GlobalGiving page. But this time, the front is painted blue.
Photo b : The 2 machines. On the right is the crusher that crushes chopped cassavas and grains. On the left, is the roller machine that finally grinds the crushed cassavas and grains into flour.
Photos c & d : The trained operator packing the flour into customers' bags.
On behalf of our community, I sincerely thank you for supporting us in acquiring a mill. Surely, this is a milestone towards achieving food security. You have surely changed many lives for the better while helping alleviate hunger!