Category Archives: Success Stories

Mata Hari F1 Onion

 There is a new Onion variety that is taking the Kenyan market by storm.

Mata Hari F1, a variety from Bayer CropScience is high yielding with upto 30T per acre. It has a deep red colour that which consumers prefer. This variety matures in 100 days after transplanting.

Mata Hari F1 in Yatta

Note the deep red colour


Yield from quater of an acre in West Pokot


Maize Season starts in Kenya

It’s the season of maize planting here in #Kenya.

Farmers are ready for the season but the major challenges this year are the Maize Lethal Necrosis and the low and inconsistent rainfall. Ideally the long rains should have started by April 1st but we are yet to see them.

Despite all these challenges farmers are hoping for a good harvest in 2014.


Purple Tea: all you need to know about this variety

Farmers have been asking me about purple tea and whether they should plant it or not. Well here is all you need to know about this variety.

Purple Tea of Kenya

Purple Tea of Kenya

Purple Tea of Kenya is a very rare tea that is sourced directly from small scale farmers. It has sweet woodsy notes with a pleasant lingering astringency. The new purple variety has higher medicinal properties than green and black tea and its seeds produce oil suitable for cooking, cosmetics and the pharmaceutical industries.

The variety was released in 2011 by Tea Research Foundation of Kenya after 25 Years of extensive research work.
The released varieties are TRFK 371/3 and TRFK 430/90. The advantages of this variety are:
√ suitable for mechanised harvesting.
√ Drought, frost, disease and pest resistant
√ Yield about 50 percent more and enhance profitability on better quality.
√ Fetches 4 times more in prices than ordinary Tea.
√ Wide adaptability and suitable for all designated tea growing regions and soils.

√Needs a separate processing unit installed.
√.Purple Tea market is not well established and there needs to be a lot of marketing on this product.3.

What is Special about Purple Tea? Why is it expensive?
√ The most special attribute of this variety is HEALTH ENHANCING found in Anthocyanin (purple pigmentation). This is an antioxidant that helps protect your heart health and boost CANCER particularly breast Cancer. .

√ Anthocyanins are also widely used as preservatives especially in the food industry.

√ This variety is also used in Manufacture of instant teas, Ready To Drink (RTD) tea, and other fast moving consumer goods such as health care products, foods and confectioneries.

Can Farmers for for purple tea?

The decision rests with the farmer. A processor is being set up in Nandi county and it will take time for it to be completed. For those planting now, it means that if the crop matures early you will harvest with the normal black tea and sell at normal price till such a time that the processor is ready. I farmers not to uproot the black tea in the farms but do a progressive shift because even if the processor is fully operational the challenge will be getting the right quantity for processing.

World food day

Yesterday I celebrated Word food day by training farmers in Nyandarua County. The event was held at Engineer stadium and it was organized by the Ministry of Agriculture in the Region. The Guest of honor was Hon. Daniel Waithaka Mwangi, the area Governor.

Herbicides such as Roundup Turbo is an effective product for land Preparion

Herbicides such as Roundup Turbo is an effective product for land Preparion

I used this opportunity to train farmers on potato management practices.  Nyandarua County is a high potential area in terms of horticulture and most of the small scale farmers grow brassicas,pototoes and snow peas. With the recent efforts by the government  to upgrade the status of potato as a strategic crop, most farmers are now taking a big interest on potato farming. Potato is the second most important food crop in Kenya after maize. It is also an important source of revenue, employing more than 2.5 million people in potato farming activities across the entire production chain.


Training farmers on potato management

The quality of potatoes produced in Kenya do not meet market demands and this has been attributed to a number of factors, including low quality seeds and poor management practices. This has resulted to high end buyers importing the produce from South africa and Egypt.

Farmers following the training session

Farmers following the training session

I used this opportunity to train farmers on the importance of using good quality seed and how to manage their crops. I also gave them the spray program and explain to them the kind of products to use.

Potato planting in Nyandarua.

Potato planting in Nyandarua.

Re-thinking Food Security in Africa: New Paradigms, New approaches convened by SID EastAfrica June 12-13 2013

Stake holders from the agriculture sector are this week convening in Nairobi for a symposium on food security in Africa.

The meeting,  organized by  Society for International Development (SID) with support from the Rockefeller Foundation.  aims at promoting, reflecting and conversing on the seemingly elusive challenge of attaining food security in the continent.  The major focus areas that will be discussed are: Ideology, The African farmer, Technology, Gender dynamics, youth and food aid. The study areas listed above are intended to answer some of the questions frequently asked regarding the inability of the continent to ensure food security for its citizens.

Read more about the symposium on ypard blog

Gangnam Style Parody- (The farmers way)

South Korean rapper Psy’s, Gangnam Style has become the most-watched YouTube video of all time with more than 885m views.

There have been so many parody songs of this single released on 15th July 2012 but the one that got my eye this morning is Farmer style (Gangnam style), A parody music video by The Peterson Farm Bros (Greg, Nathan, and Kendal Peterson) that promotes agriculture!

Here are the lyrics to the Parody

We are the Peterson Farm Bros, and we’re farming and we grow it
We love agriculture, and we want the world to know it
Farming is a way of life with many different flavors
Being stewards of the gifts God gave us

Out here on the farm,
We’re running green John Deere Tractors
Out here on the farm,
We work in many weather factors
Out here on the farm,
We’re working hard to raise your food
Out here on the farm. On the family farm.

Agriculture, is so important to me, (and should be to you) HAY!
It feeds the world and will never ever cease to be, We need to eat!
We all need farmers to provide us with our food, food, food, food!

Workin’ farmer style.
Farmer Style
Work, work, work, work, working farmer style

Haaaaaaay, for my cattle
Work, work, work, work, working farmer style
Haaaaaaay, from the field
Work, work, work, work

Farmers are working harder than you might imagine
But that is just because we have a job that is our passion
We will work sunup to sundown time and time again
As if working for the Lord and not for men

Out here on the farm
We get away from lights of cities
Out here on the farm
The countryside is nice and pretty
Out here on the farm.
We work together as a family.
Out here on the farm. On the family farm.

Agriculture, is so important to me, (and should be to you) HEY!
It feeds the world and will never ever cease to be, We need to eat!
We all need farmers to provide us with our food, food, food, food!

Workin’ farmer style

Hay, hay, hay, hay
Is what we feed our cattle
So they grow big and strong
And then become the food that keeps us living nice and long.
Our crops like corn and wheat
Help make diets complete
Without the farmers working
We would all be starving
You know what I’m saying?

Workin’ farmer style

Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey

Hey, thank the farmers!
Hey, for your food!

Twitter comes to the aid of Kenyans in the hour of need- Check out my best tweets

The protest by public transport operators against the new traffic rules has turned Nairobi into a “walk to work city”. Since yesterday hundreds of stranded commuters have been force to walk all the way to work.

With the Matatu strike on going, trust the Kenyans to come up with a solution to this issue. Using the Twitter hashtag #CarpoolKe.  Kenyans who need rides are matched with those willing to offer rides to work in the morning and home in the evening.

To me this is the best of the Kenyan spirit and one of the best positive stories from Kenya. I salute Kenya Redcross for coming up with this idea.

Kenya Redcross came up with the idea last evening to help those stranded in town to get back to work

Our media houses have also been so great and I wish you could see the spirit of Nationhood that Kenyans have. Even Presidential candidate at Martha Karua also is also part of the team.
Our friend @Davidwere from Ushahidi went a step further and quickly set up a crowdmap  using data generated on twitter. This makes it easier to for people to locate a ride to work.

CarpoolKE crowdmap

Here are some of my best tweets from #CarpoolKe

Thanks for willing to offer a ride

I am moved too

Safety first

Lessons learnt from Thika farmers.


A horticulture farm in Thika

This weekend, I had the previllage to visit a farm I managed during my days as an intern at Bayer CropScience and I must say I am impressed by the farming going on there.
If all Kenyan farmers were as aggressive as the farmers I met today then we would definately be able to feed this country and have plenty more to sell.
What I learnt is that farming is not just ploughing the land and putting seeds on the ground. There is a lot more that needs to be done for example farm scouting for pests and diseases. A farmer also needs to understand the nutrients that are needed in the farm and he should ensure that his/her farm is well maintained.
The most important thing is that farming should be treated as a business and this calls for record keeping. A serious farmer should be able to keep records of all the activities in the farm.
Another important thing is market information, before you decide to venture into any type of farming you should do a market research to know if there is a good market for your produce.

Smarter farming via text messaging

For the past couple of days I have been testing  messaging app and I thing this the best app that can transform agribusiness  in the region. This app is designed to create social and economic value for its users by connecting them to people and organizations nearby with whom they share common interests or concerns.

It works best for the agribusiness sector because it can be used across the agribusiness value chain.

The farmer can use it for the following purposes;

1.Get information on farm inputs

2. Get market information- Where to sell and the best market price

3. They get a chance to interact with the service providers e.g agro- chemical companies through text messaging.

Because most farmers can only afford low-cost prepaid cellular phones, Next2 has created this service so that it can be accessed mostly  through SMS (Short Message Service). The service can also be accessed online.

The app is simple and easy to use

The best thing about this Service  is that is affordable to the user. It costs  only 1 Kshs to send a text and it is free to receive.

To register Send a text to 5557 starting with reg, username, region and Country

e.g for Kips I will text reg kips Nairobi Kenya

What I love most about this app is the “Get” Command

This is where the user updates the info on what you offer by logging in  to after you register.

Once logged in go to my my files and add the description to what you offer. Other users can then be able to get this by texting “Get username X” e.g if you text get kips to 5557 you will be able to get the about kips.

Here are a few points to note about Next2

1) You MUST start any text message to 5557 using your Safaricom line, with a recognized Nx2 command (reg, loc, srad, 4, addp, addpp, get unreg). Download a list of commands and their meanings here
2) Next2 will REPLY BACK TO EVERY SMS sent to 5557  EXCEPT direct text command “4”  So you should either receive SMS back that your text was processed and your data update or your will get a message “command not know, please try again”  If you get this then that means we did not understand your txt msg and could not update your account.
3) Please watch your spaces in your SMS messages. Please only have one space between words whenever possible.
4) You can use the unreg command at anytime.  This stop the service and we delete all your information from our server AND your name is immediately available again to reuse.  So find a nice short name that is easy to remember that you want to use.  You can use the SMS ‘unreg to test that it works properly but dont’ worry about losing your Nx2 name.  You can use the reg command again immediately to reg using the same name.
5) Next2 allows for creating web page by SMS.  So when you send SMS command you can see it changed at your Next2 web page.
6) Your web page is your name after the url  Example  Not all SMS commands are reflected in your Nx2 mobile web page but some like loc, srad and addp are reflected in the web page.

For more info.  download the Next2 SMS user guide  Tweet me on @kipsizoo


Agriculture can solve the problem of youth unemployment

Youth unemployment is one of the most acute problems affecting developing countries Kenya included. A lack of basic education ranks high among the reasons for this problem. However, youth unemployment is compounded by the fact that a large portion of the population in developing countries tends to be youth.

The formal economy is unable to create enough employment opportunities to absorb this constant supply of labour-seeking youth. Most youth finish their studies and go to towns in search of jobs and it takes most of them them an average of 2-3 years to get a Job which pays Ksh. 40,ooo a Month. This 3 years is a time which goes into waste and the graduates should have used this time to venture into agriculture and make more money . Its is a fact that agriculture has a potential to lift a lot of people out of poverty by creating Jobs in the Agriculture sector and boosting food security in our nation thus freeing the resources used to import food to be used in other development projects, This will hasten the achievement of Kenya’s Vision 2030 as they say-  “A wellfed nation is a free nation”

From my observation youth participation in the agricultural sector is very low, largely because the sector is highly unattractive – due to risks, costs, inefficiency and its labour-intensive nature. Motivating the youth to view agriculture as a career opportunity will require a a lot of l intervention from all sectors. The Government and the stake holders should come up with realistic strategies  to attract gadget-loving and efficiency-prone young people into the agricultural sector

In the first instance, those within the school  system must be targeted. There are various ways the youth can venture into agribusiness, one being integration of ICT in agriculture I want to highlight the case of MFarm Kenya   a software solution and agribusiness company based in Nairobi who are doing a wonderful job of connecting farmers with the market and also providing advice on best farming practices. Some of the services they offer are:

  1. Enable farmers to inquire current market prices of different crops from different regions and/or specific markets.
  2. Aggregate farmers needs/orders and connect them with farm input suppliers.
  3. Enable farmers to sell collectively and connect them with a ready market.
These are the kind of creative ideas that our youth should be encouraged to come up with- Solutions to the problems we face in the field.
The second way is staring up a business e.g green house farming. For a long time the youth had been having problems getting a start up capital but thanks to the government the youth can get loans through Youth Fund  and the good news is that the President has  promised to improve the youth kitty, which was established in 2007 with an initial capital of Sh1 billion, but now stands at Sh3.8 billion.
With these structures now in place I urge my fellow graduates to rise to the challenge as the ball is now on their court.
Happy Easter People
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