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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Ladies Learn How to Make Home-made Yorghurt

By Sheila Ngigi

In every business, the rule of demand and supply applies the world over, and determines a great deal what either party takes home after a transaction. This has been particularly true and distressing for the residents of Isinya. The Maasai , who are the predominant community in Isinya, are known for their love of cattle keeping for many centuries and cows and goats are characteristic of every homestead.
This has played out negatively to the detriment of the community especially during the wet season. During this time, pasture is in plenty for all farmers which results into plenty of milk. Resultantly, milk prices usually fall drastically because the supply is higher than the demand. Milk prices can fall to as low as twenty five shillings as per liter while in other areas of the country, the same liter can cost up to eighty shillings.
This has disheartened the famers who say they do not benefit from their cattle ventures at all, neither in the dry seasons nor during the rainy seasons. They are trapped in a rat race where the little income gained can only be for subsistence over and over again and not to better their living conditions.
However, every sky has a silver lining as there is hope for a group of women who belong to Nasaru Ntoyie women’s group. On the 30th of August, the group was taken through the process of preparing natural home-made yoghurt in a bid to add value to their milk. This was by the ministry of Agriculture officer, Ms. Loise Gakuru in partnership with ALIN.
Ladies preparing for the training

All the ladies had to purchase was a packet of bacterial culture and two different flavours, which are readily available in supermarkets and milk which they have from their cattle.
during the trainig

Steps to follow while preparing home-made yoghurt
  • Thoroughly boil the milk for at least 10 minutes adding the desired amount of sugar, while beating the milk to kill all bacteria in the milk and dissolve the sugar.
  • Cool the milk to a warm temperature, not too hot, nor too cold.
  • Take a teaspoonful of the culture and dissolve it into a glass of milk, stir to dissolve. (1 teaspoon for 5 litres of milk).
  • Pour the dissolved culture into the rest of the milk and place the milk in a plastic container. ( In the absence of the bacteria culture, already prepared yoghurt from the shop can be used in its place following the procedure).
  • Leave the milk in a covered fireless cooker or wrap it with blankets then place it on a wooden surface(to prevent heat loss) for 5-6 hours.
  • After the 6 hours, the milk has lumped together into a chunk. Add the desired flavor (strawberry, vanilla, banana) or leave it to be natural youghurt.
  • Pass the lump through a sieve pressing onto it with a spoon to smoothen the chunks.
  • The yoghurt is ready; it should be stored in a cool dry place.

Ingredients: Cilture and flavors

milk in a fireless cooker

The ladies were amazed to learn the new skills. This way, they do not have to sell their milk at throw away prices. By making yoghurt out of it, they add value to the milk and fetch higher prices for their commodity, which has a ready market at Isinya town.
With assistance from the ministry officials, the plan is to get their yoghurt certified by the ministry of health officials and they can hit the market. In the meantime, they are enjoying sweet healthy yoghurt with their children which they have made themselves!
Home-made yoghurt ready
Baby enjoying the yoghurt

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Filling in the Gap during Nationwide Strike

By Sheila Ngigi
With the ongoing nationwide strike, it has been tough for students and pupils all over the country, Isinya and its environs included, to study. However, the Maarifa centre has turned out to be a safe haven for these children’s quest for knowledge. To state that the strike has affected them is an understatement especially the candidates who are counting less than three months to their final examinations.
Stocked with books on all subjects with relevant information for their studies, only space has been a hindrance to these determined souls. 
Part of the Maarifa centre's library
The children, both from secondary and primary schools, trek many kilometres to come to the Maarifa centre seeking knowledge. At home, the children face the challenge of having to carry out homely chores at the expense of their studies. Moreover, they face countless distractions while they are at home making it difficult to concentrate. In contrast, the Maarifa centre provides the environment and quiet that they need and after some hours of study, they go back to help herding cattle and other duties at home.
Lemayian carrying water 

Lemayian grazing cattle

Young girl working at home

Meet Immaculate Nemoipo, a form three student at eno matassia secondary school. At 17 years old of age, she has to take care of her younger brothers, clean and cook all day long but at the Maarifa she finds a safe haven where she can study for a few hours before embarking on her chores at home.

Immaculate studying at the Maarifa centre
The story is similar for Jason Lemayian, a class eight pupil at Isinya primary school. He starts his studies at 8.30 am, when the Maarifa center opens until 11.30 when he goes and relieves his father off herding their cows, sheep and goats before fetching water for the family. It is impossible to study effectively while walking and running after the animals under the scorching sun and ghastly winds that are characteristic of Isinya.

The students and pupils are glad that they can find books that they need for revision and grateful for the comfortable seats and furniture that they can use for their studies. Though at times they have to be squeezed in the container for each one to find some space, it is more than they could ever ask for.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The future of the rabbit industry around Kajiado County

By Sheila Ngigi

When anything about livestock rearing in Kenya is mentioned, the first thing that comes into one’s mind is dairy cattle, beef cattle, poultry, pigs, sheep and goats almost in that order. For many years, little emphasis has been directed towards small stock as Guinea pigs, guinea fowls, quails, pigeons and rabbits.

For ages now, rabbit rearing has been perceived as a preserve for young boys, and even then, they do it as a hobby and have to play hide-and-seek games with their guardians who will never allow them time to look after them at the expense of school time. Many people have never imagined that rabbits can provide enough meat nor be a reliable source of livelihood for their households.

But in the recent past, the livestock industry has been experiencing a major shift with many livestock farmers trying their hands in a number of emerging livestock like fish farming, quails and rabbit keeping.

Lately, this has also been the trend in Kajiado County which has seen a number of farmers venturing in to rabbit rearing. Given its many advantages including high nutritive value, small rearing space, relatively cheaper feeds, many natives of the county are getting in to it. These, coupled with the now highly unpredictable weather conditions and the diminishing land sizes, is increasingly leading to a shift from the traditional pastoralism and way of life towards keeping of small stock like rabbits, dairy goats, fish and poultry.
Through public-private sector partnerships, the Ministry of Livestock Development in collaboration with some Non-Governmental Organizations like ALIN have conducted a number of farmer training seminars on rabbit keeping and the reception has been overwhelming. NGOs, donor organizations, governments and food processing companies have all realized that there is need to expand food production to counter food shortages and the escalating price of grain, vegetables and livestock products while at the same time help farmers earn from their ventures.
Farmers keenly following a training on rabbit rearing

At the moment, a number of groups around the Kajiado County have been trained with some having already embarked on implementing their projects while others are still in the training process.

Major emphasis is put on the importance of value addition to the products in order to increase marketability enabling farmers to fetch more returns. This has also been boosted by the ongoing construction of the tannery in Isinya where the rabbit skins will be tanned enabling various items to be made from the skins. This will ensure that rabbit products are not taken to the market in their raw form and as a result increasing the incomes of farmers.
Another important move is to bring on board more players in the rabbit business as entrepreneurs, as it is already an interest of many around the county.
Moreover, by embracing rabbit keeping, farmers will now have a constant source of income all year long irrespective of weather conditions and low financial status. However, there is need for them to form Common Interest Groups to gain optimally from their ventures. Such organizations enable stakeholders speak in one voice by providing a platform to air views, express issues they face and share ideas aimed at improving their livelihoods.

Though still in infancy stage, if well governed, the rabbit sector can drastically create more jobs (value chains) through slaughter houses and rabbit butcheries. 

There is hope that this emerging practice will change the fortunes of the community around Kajiado County. However, with its launching, Agricultural Sector Development Support Programme, ASDSP, a five year programme, has strategically placed value chain development as one of its main goals which will benefit rabbit farmers a great deal.