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    By Brian Moseti

    Among the common sights at homesteads in the Ewaso Kedong region of Kenya’s Kajiado County are mounds of manure, sometimes covered with tarpaulins or plastic bags.

    Being pastoralists, members of the Maasai community who live in the area typically have many cows, goats and sheep, which overnight, generate tonnes of waste within their bomas (holding areas).

    It is this waste that is commonly gathered and piled away for sale to buyers from other regions, who collect it in lorryfuls for as little as KSh1,000 thousand per load.

    But the situation is different in Ene Moipei’s home where you cannot come across the telling mounds of manure, a resource he channels to produce biogas. Biogas is a biofuel that is naturally generated from the decomposition of organic waste.

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    When organic matter, such as animal waste, breaks down in an anaerobic environment (one without oxygen), a blend of gases comprising methane is released. It is this methane that is harvested as a clean fuel to power gas cookers and sometimes light fixtures.

    The Moipei homestead has 23 cows and hundreds of goats and sheep, all of which produce enough waste matter to generate more gas than is needed every day, saving his family KSh8,000 per month in firewood costs. This is besides the added benefit of living in a smokeless environment.

    Like everybody else here, I used to sell this manure until I learned that it can be used to produce cooking gas,” said Moipei, 56, whose extended family comprises 17 members.

    To produce the gas, Moipei collects the animal waste in two flexible digesters (tarpaulin bladders) each with a capacity of 6,000 liters and costing KSh87,000. About 20Kg of waste is added into each bladder daily to produce enough gas for the whole family.

    It is easy to maintain the system because all that is required is the once-a-day feeding of the system with fresh animal waste; nothing else,” said Moipei.

    As the waste sits in the digester, decomposition happens producing methane that rises to the top and is then directed to where it is needed via pipes.

    The digester is designed in such a way that once fresh matter is added into the bladder, expended waste is pushed out another end. The digested matter is free of smell but contains enough nutrients for fertilizing crops.

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    Presently, Moipei lets this effluent run through his farm as he works to set up an irrigated crop-production enterprise.

    Most of us who live here have plenty of land, but it is only now that we are learning to use it productively. I am planning to start watermelon farming and I am sure that the waste from my biogas system will come in handy to fertilize my plants,” he said.

    For more information on the flexible biogas digesters, call Flexi Biogas Solutions on 0722700530 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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    By George Munene

    Sugargraze is a new hybrid specialty forage introduced to the Kenyan market by agri-produce multinational Advanta. The multi-cut high sugar forage promises farmers a 30 per cent increase in milk output.

    Given it is a sorghum variant sugargaraze is drought tolerant compared to other fodder crops such as maize and napier grass. It thrives in both high and low potential areas with poor soils, where maize production is poorer.

    This also makes it an ideal source of fodder when maize and other feed sources fail.

    It is high yielding with an acre giving up to 40 metric tonnes, which is much more forage than other sources of fodder such as maize. Unlike maize, their lower leaves do not dry out as the plant matures, remaining green and retaining a higher crude protein content.

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    To other fodder sources such as maize, sugargraze has the advantage of ratooning (growing again). The second crop matures earlier but depending on the level of feed might yield slightly less than the first crop. This cuts on cost in land preparation, purchasing of seeds and replanting.

    The late flowering sorghum cultivar has a high sugar content (Brix 16-18%) that is a superior source of energy to cows. This also improves its ensiling quality enabling farmers to make high-quality silage besides making it extremely palatable hence minimal feed waste. 

    Sugargaze should be established at a seed rate of 5kg per acre in heavy black soils and 6kg on light soils prepared to a fine tilth and at a planting depth of 5-6cm depth. The soils should preferably have a PH range of 5.5-7.0. 

    For optimum growth, farmers should conduct soil tests to establish their soil’s nutrient deficiency. Whilst planting phosphatic fertiliser should be applied at a rate of N-30kg/acre, P-2Kg/acre. Adequate nitrogen ensures fast growth and regeneration after cutting. Top dressing can be done at the third-week post-establishment using any nitrogenous fertiliser.

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    Sugagraze is mature for harvesting after 75 –90 days after flowering for green forage and 85 days for green forage. Ratoon (second harvest) matures in just 50-60 days after the first cut. A farmer should leave a 6-8 inch stalk above ground to allow for immediate regeneration of multi-cuts.

    “Sugargraze is harvestable for one and half years before needing to be changed,” says Jomo Mwangala a seed agronomist at Elgon Kenya Limited 

    Advanta Seeds International: +254703879082

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    By George Munene

    In May of this year, Gad Kamarei, a mixed farmer at Nanyuki embarked on an ambitious project setting up Good Fortune Greens—a greengrocery he hoped would enable him sell directly to consumers, avoid the usual exploitation of farmers by brokers and maximize his profits. Five short months on, business is booming: “We are at the moment swamped with orders, the December festivities will have to be postponed until after the 1st of January,” he says.

    “This year I had what I considered the good fortune of a bumper broccoli harvest. Having supplied to friends and the local markets I had access to I was still left with large quantities to sell. I engaged a broker who bought them from me for just Sh50 a kilogram. That very evening a friend bought a kilogram of the same broccolis in town for Sh220,” he says. 

    From then on he embarked on working out a way to take produce directly from his farm and onto the plates of consumers.

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    While Covid-19’s disruption of agricultural supply chains hurt most farmers, Kamarei had set up his business at an opportune time: ”Consumers were wary of going to markets and looking for home-delivered agricultural produce; we were ideally placed to service this growing need,” he points out.

    Kamarei began with hawking vegetables, usually tomatoes, from his car boot, which he still does; “Not all produce can be sold from the store—I send a driver to informal settlements around Nanyuki twice a week. In Majengohe and Kwambuzi the population is high and the convenience of home-delivered fresh farm produce at subsidized prices is unavailable,” he explains. The uptake here too has been great; he often receives calls on his whereabouts whenever he goes a month without doing his usual supply rounds.   

    With a startup cost of Sh250,000 used in constructing his grocery and another Sh50,000 to bolster his horticultural stock and he was officially in business from the 27th of May. His shelves are now resplendent with tomatoes, onions, greens, courgettes, cucumbers, peppers, some herbs as well as fruits obtained from his two-acre farm in Laikipia and his home farm at Nanyuki. 

    The grocery is located in town and along the Nanyuki highway which is convenient for customers headed home from work and passersby along the busy road. Being next to the prominent Baraka butcher shop in town it also acts as catnip for meat buyers who usually come in to buy some veggies.  

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    He has two employees: one mans the shop and the other is a motorbike rider for the stall’s dial a delivery service. This is offered up to consumer doorsteps at no extra charge.

    Kamarei also sources farm produce from neighbouring farmers when his own stocks are low. “Not long ago I was the farmer being exploited; bearing this in mind I ensure the farmers that I work with reap healthy profit margins from their produce,” he says.

    With the businesses’ early success he has been able to venture into dairy farming and is looking to set up a third greenhouse.          

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