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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

New dawn for farmers in Kajiado County

By Sheila Ngigi
With the new constitution and devolution all in place, agricultural stakeholders in Kajiado County have hit the ground running with the aim of working to make farming in the county the success it ought to be.
The 11th of June saw them, Isinya Maarifa center included, converge for a ground breaking meeting to chart the way forward. The meeting was convened by ASDSP “Agricultural Sector Development Support Programme” whose mandate correspond with the former body, NALEP National Agricultural and Livestock Extension Programme”. The multi-stakeholder meeting saw farmers, officials from the Agriculture and Livestock development, Non-governmental organizations, middlemen and agro vet owners all given the same platform to state their expectations and insights on how to improve farming in Kajiado.
ASDSP’s goal is “poverty reduction, food security and equity” while the goal is “ to increase incomes of all players in the value chain of agriculture”. Its 4 arms include:
This arm’s duties include monitoring and evaluating programmes on the ground and capacity building of all the players.
Environmental resilience and social inclusion
This is the arm that ensures an ecologically secure enabling environment through protection of the environment. It further ensures that all groups around the County are included; male, female, disabled, youth, the poor etc.
Value chain development  
This arm develops partnerships and promotes commercialization of the agricultural sector. Creation of Common Interest Groups was seen as a great way of achieving this arm’s goals.
Research and extension
This will involve engaging in continued research and actualizing findings by training farmers to implement them.
After the meeting, a prioritization tool was used to determine the most critical produce in the county. Points of reference included: competitiveness, potential for growth, food security and employment.
At the end of the exercise, the top priority farm produce were ranked as follows.
In ascending order with milk being #1 and onion last on the list:
  •          Onion
  •          Mutton (sheep)
  •          Maize
  •          Beef (cattle)
  •          Tomato
  •          Milk (cattle)

It was an eye opening exercise which clearly painted the picture of the county marking an informed beginning for all of us.

By Sheila Ngigi

Monday, June 17, 2013

ICT Training benefits poultry man

By Sheila Ngigi
When John Kaboro, a poultry man with Kenchic Limited heard of the free ICT training at the Maarifa center, he doubted, because the offer sounded too good to be true. “I wondered whether this was accurate or just a hoax, because not many things come for free nowadays. That is when I decided to pay the center a visit and confirmed that it was all true,” says John. He immediately registered for the April intake and began classes immediately he was called to begin.
John Kaboro keenly follows a lesson

John was taken through Introduction, Word, excel, PowerPoint and Internet and since getting these skills, life has not been the same again, as he puts it in his own words. As a poultry man at Kenchic Ltd, his job entails caring for chicken, data entry and a lot of filing. “Before I learnt how to use computers, I used to fill in the day’s entries manually into the file and the manager had to transfer them again into the office computer which was time wasting and tiring. However, now I even assist the manager in filling in other employees’ entries into the computer” John says proudly.
Kaboro opens a gmail account

John says he can now write reports to his supervisor comfortably as well as his own notes that he compiles from the internet with no assistance. I am now put in-charge of the office when my boss is away and this has given me prospects of a promotion. Excel is especially important for making the entries, and Kaboro took initiative to come back for extra tuition feeling that he needed to understand more in the package.
And Mr. Kaboro has only praises for the proramme, “I am so glad that I got this chance at the Maarifa center. I hope to save up and buy a laptop so that I can start my own poultry business. This way I can keep my records and run my business in a systematic manner,” he adds. He also hopes to pursue a business management course online, which will assist him in his business.

Monday, June 10, 2013



Emily Muthoni was overjoyed when she got a chance to learn computer skills at Isinya Maarifa center. It was a dream come true, as she had always had the desire to know how to operate the machines but her parents had no means of taking her to college like some of her colleagues. So the Maarifa center free ICT training was like music to her ears and she savored the opportunity. 

She was delighted to learn that she had qualified for admission to a public university after scoring a B in her KCSE. And when the Joint Admission Board announced that revision of courses was only online, this was a welcome move. After all she had the skills and there was a free internet service at the Maarifa center.
The Story is the same for Ann Wambui and Stephen Mokoro. The Isinya Maarifa center has been a bee-hive of activities in the previous two weeks as candidates of 2012, KCSE have been making efforts to revise their courses.

Talking to Ann Wambui who came all the way from Kitengela for the exercise, I sought to find what she thought of the experience. “It’s the first time I am using the Maarifa center as I recently heard about it from a friend.” She said, “I consider myself lucky because in the other years, the ex candidates had to travel far in order to revise their degree choices.” She added.
Stephen Mokoro, who was a frequent at the Isinya 

Maarifa center during the revision exercise, said that was quite pleased with the services offered but noted that the internet services was slow due to traffic in the Joint Admission Board site and this slowed down the process. He also added that there were times the JAB site was sometimes not available and he had to postpone his revision. Despite these shortcomings, he was able to revise his degree courses and he hopes that he will be able to go to The University of Nairobi to study Medicine.

The revision process came to an end on the 31st of May and as usual with Kenyans doing things on the last minute, the Maarifa center was packed from as early as 8.00 am with many ex candidates finalizing on the revision.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Madaraka Day Festivities in Isinya

BY Sheila Ngigi

The 1st of June saw a large crowd of Isinya residents gather at Isinya Primary school as they had always done, only this time it was different, it was their first in this new constitutional dispensation and devolution. In attendance were various dignitaries notably the Deputy County Commissioner and his assistants, down to area chiefs. 

Residents following Madaraka day proceedings keenly

Men, women and children arrived at the school's playground early, braving the early morning cold which before long  gave way to the scorching sun.
And we were not disappointed; beats of police tunes lent the morning air entertaining the crowd that had hitherto milled around ready to listen to their leaders.Pupils of Topride academy were also not left behind as they amused the guests with a choral verse asking for unity in the country. Pupils of Isinya primary school who were clad in multicoloured Maasai attire thrilled the multitude with cultural Maasai melodies that left all and sundry moving their heads to the tune.
Pupils of Isinya Primary Entertain guests
Mr. Ekai, the assistant County Commissioner and emcee of the day, called speakers to the podium one by one. One after the other, they exhorted one another to embrace devolution and work together with their leaders to foster development. Other speakers candidly in expressed their misgivings regarding some issues in the district. Key among them were insecurity and water shortages that have become frequent in the district.
The bodaboda riders, who are usually the youth, were accused of operating without licenses besides lacking requisite qualifications thus causing many accidents and injuring many residents. Moreover, residents complained of lack of water which compromised the levels of health and hygiene in the district. Many women protested that they had to spend long hours queuing for water.
The climax of the ceremony was the reading of the president's speech by the Deputy County Commissioner. Mr.Hassan Bule, stepped on the podium dressed in his neat commissioner's uniform. The speech, read in Kiswahili celebrated 50 years of self rule urging residents to "be dedicated to  partriotism, selflessness and diligence and renew their commitment to build a freer, richer, stronger and fairer Kenya than we inherited."

Isinya, Deputy County commissioner Mr. Hassan Bule delivering the president's speech

Among all these, Vision 2030 did not escape the President who prayed the residents to see it through to reality by embracing ICTs and all it has to offer. Supporting the implementation of free laptops for school children was one of the ways of doing so.
In his own words, Mr.Bule implored the people to desist from ethnicity which is an impetus to underdevelopment and useless conflicts. He further promised action against water companies that failed to provide water services to residents giving them an ultimatum of one week. He also commanded the police department to tighten on their security measures and put stringent measures on bar owners who operated against the law as these bars were breeding ground for criminals.
 The ceremony came to a close with residents hopeful that we would together make Kenya a better nation.