The Mango Tree Orphan Support Trust -Kenya has been implementing achievable ambitious plan of improving the livelihood of 1500 rural farmers through agribusiness. It has been more than a year since the project was initiated and a number of agribusiness projects have been initiated and are ongoing. The project’s fundraising target is $50,000 and we have been able to raise $13,643. This amount and other external support has been used to construct a modern grains store, construction of a modernized poultry farm, buying the poultry farm inputs, buying of the poultry feeds milling machine and has been used to loan the registered farmers in the cooperative society capital for buying soya bean seeds for planting. This same amount has been used to initiate a number of agribusiness activities that benefit the farmers. The key agribusiness activities here include: goat farming, poultry farming, apiculture, aquaculture, cassava farming, ground nuts farming, mango farming, soya beans farming and tree planting.
i. Farming Activities
The organization in partnership with the registered local farmers, County and National Government agricultural extension officers and other agribusiness institutions implements a number of agribusiness projects within Homabay and Migori Counties. The organization is implementing the following specific agribusiness projects:
- Apiculture – The organization has a total of 141 bee hives that benefit a total of 64 farmers. Because of the bad weather there was much honey harvesting during the reporting period and about 26kg of honey was harvested.
21 farmers are benefiting from the aquaculture (Fish) project having 37 ponds stocked with fingerlings where 19 of the ponds are constructed using dam-liner and 18 of the ponds being constructed along the lake shows. There are additional 5 dam-liner ponds at the office demonstration farm with sampling done in November, after a period of 7 months, having the fish average sample size being 241.12gms. A farmer with 1 pond along the lake has managed to harvest the fish from his pond and was able to raise approximately USD 500 as total output. Where 30% of the output is saved in the cooperative account for the next restocking to make the project sustainable
- Poultry Farm – During the reporting period, the organization was able to stock its two incubators with quality eggs in two phases. In the first phase, the incubator was stocked to capacity with 1056 eggs of which the hatching rate was 86% (911). There are 200 chicks remaining while 512 chicks were sold. The second phase of incubator stocking was done with 934 eggs of which the hatching rate was 13% (113). The second phase of stocking was affected by power fluctuations that affected the incubation process. Of the 113 that hatched 23 were sold and 64 still remaining to be kept has layers and broilers.
Way forward of Poultry farming
- Install a solar system for the incubators
- Employ a skilled and reliable farm assistant
- Ensure high hygiene standards
- Optimize on all the key management practices
- Ensure optimum production against structure capacity and investment
- Ensure an elaborate marketing strategy for the products e.g. fertilized eggs, day old chicks, week old to four weeks, broilers and layers
- Offer an elaborate extension service for potential reliable customers
- Goat Farming
141 farmers who were given local does and exotic bucks. A total of 181 local does were issued to the farmers with 40 exotic bucks given to service a group of 20 local does. Due to expansion, we are targeting 130 more farmers to benefit from the new phase. So far 59 does have kidded with 50 of the local does expected to deliver by the end of the year. 40 kids are available for being passed on to other household farmers so that the benefiting farmer’s base is increased by 13%. Of the total 181 local does, there has been a 2% (4) incidences of deaths reported due to an outbreak of an infectious livestock disease that was contained by the Ministry of Agriculture and Veterinary Services.
Way forward on Goat Farming
- Continue with more purchases of local does and exotic bucks for distribution to other remaining farmers especially The Mango Tree Orphan Support Trust Community Health Volunteers
- Passing on of the kids to other farmers
- Liaise with the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock to monitor any outbreak of infectious diseases, vaccination and prompt treatment of the goats.
- Tree Planting
The organization has had to distribute tree seedlings to farmers after an extensive extension services offered to farmers on the four (4) strategies that will be used in the planting of the trees so that the farmers benefit inclusively. The four strategies will among other help in demarcation of their farm boundaries and also in the restoration of the sand mines and rehabilitate the swampy farms.
The strategies includes:
- Woodlots: The farmer is to allocate part of the farm measuring approx. 5mX10m where trees are planted at a distance of 1M apart creating a beautiful forest providing shade and providing firewood when the tree branches are pruned.
- Edges/ Boundaries: Trees are planted along the edges of the farm which provides a good demarcation for the various plots the farmer owns at a distance of 1 meter apart hence solving many land boundary disputes. The trees planted along the edges/ boundaries are those that do not interfere with the farmers activities or destroy the soil properties.
- Orchards: Farmers are provided with fruit trees that are planted at a distance of 5mX5m within their farms or homesteads. This will provide good shade and also help uplift the economic power of the farmer and increase the food security of the farmer thereby uplifting the general health.
- Swampy/ sand mines: Forest trees planting in swampy and flood prone areas, in a keenly monitored and intensively managed process, will facilitated rehabilitation of sand mines, enhance household income, nutrition and improve the environment and ecosystem, giving rise to resilient community with a healthy and safe environment
In the last three months, the organization distributed about 3000 tree seedlings to various farmers through the Mango Tree Cooperative Society where each person was allocated 50 seedlings each of forest trees.
Way forward on Tree planting
- To hit a target of 40,000 tree seedlings distribution by end of March 2020 at the onset of long rains.
- Continue with offering farmers with extension services on the best strategy to employ while planting depending on the kind of soil topology of the farmer.
- Concentrate more on reclaiming the deforested sand mines and swampy farms.
- Engage other stakeholders e.g. schools, hospitals and government in the planting of trees within their institutions or government lands.
The organization has been able to utilize the raised $13,643 into various projects that are of benefit to the organization.
- Power fluctuations is a challenge in the poultry farm. The incubators require 100% availability of electricity for the best hatching rate. Power outage makes the project cater for the expensive cost of fuel for generator that acts as a backup when there is power outage.
- The organization is grateful to the donors who constantly support the projects through donation. However, funding remains a key challenge to implementing this project since the funds raised has not been enough for successful implementation of the activities. Out of the $50,000 budget, $13,643 has been successfully fundraised and the organization is, therefore, appealing to the donors for continued support. The organization is also utilizing all available opportunities in the various projects to ensure that it gets income from the various projects to fund and expand on its projects. Moreover, the organization utilizes the cheap labor from the community volunteers as well as the senior beneficiaries who support the organization as a way of giving back to the community.
Plans for Next Quarter
- Poultry project has got a plan of purchasing a solar powered incubator so as to solve the problem of power fluctuation that reduces the hatching rate.
- Poultry farm has plans of reaching over 1600 farmers and therefore start thinking about value addition for farmers e.g. processing and packaging.
- There is a total of 55 farmers groups that does savings and table banking on their own. The project plans to help these groups with money for table banking to boost on their loan interests.
- Continue with farmers extension services for tree planting so as to understand the kind of their soil topology.