Goal of Momentum Business and Development:
To train farmers in farming skills and provide them with appropriate farming inputs on credit. Combined, this will increase their yield so that they are able to afford food throughout the year, medical expenses and school fees, as well as repay the loan they receive from us. We want to achieve this by mobilizing people in groups, where the members can assist each other with plowing, planting, weeding and harvesting. The groups also function as our guarantee as the group only receives the farming inputs if all members attend all group formation and farming skills training sessions as well as repay the loan before next year’s planting.
Timeline for our project:
November: groups are formed and group formation sessions are held.
December: farming skills training commences, with 3 sessions over 3 weeks.
January through July: farming review sessions are held, each with a focus specific to the crop production advancements.
February: farming inputs are provided.
July – August: harvest.
For now our focus is maize and beans, but we hope to add sorghum as it is an extremely durable crop, which can both be consumed and sold to breweries for making beer.
The first week in Uhuru, Segere, Siaya County, Western Kenya.
Momentum Business and Development arrived in Uhuru on Tuesday, October 1 after 6 hours of driving on roads not yet paved. At times it was a life or death experience, with the driver going 100 km/hour downhill on dirt roads with barely visible, but very tall bumps! Somehow we managed to arrive safely to our new home. It was dark by the time we got to Uhuru so we couldn’t see the beauty of the place rather we were hit by a feeling of being overwhelmed by the rough interior. Thankfully, that feeling was over the moment we woke up the next morning and looked out the window.
We live in Big and Best Business Center, which houses a ceramics workshop that gives young people education in ceramic production. Currently, they are producing jewelry, which will be sold in a Kenyan supermarket chain. Our business center also includes an M-PESA shop and an Equity bank branch. These businesses, including our office, are located at the ground floor. On the first floor there are 8 rooms where we all sleep along with the ceramics teachers.
Our area is a beautiful valley with lots of green trees, a river, amazing red, dirt roads, warm weather, and incredibly friendly people. We are located in a market center, which is the center of two villages – Odheyo and Ongiende. These two villages are part of a cluster of 10 villages, which make upOjuando B – a sub-location within Alego Central location, which is in Siaya County. This might seem confusing, but it is truly a very logical system that makes it easier for government officials to divide responsibilities. In Ojuando B, our sub-location, Otwodi is the sub-chief. He is a resourceful person who has helped us get an overview of the area and mobilize the village elders whom we needed to get permission from to work with thevillagers.
The first couple of days after we got here we spent getting to know our team, which consists of Kevin and Shila who are both young, agricultural specialists with degrees in Agricultural Business, and Anne who is an experienced community development officer, also through education. We met with influential people of the area who we had to inform about our project to get their consent. We also spent the days preparing for our baseline survey, which we initiated on Monday.
We are surveying 60 farmers over 5 days – 6 farmers per village in the sub-location. The survey language is Luo, which is spoken in Siaya County. Our dedicated local team is here every morning and spends the whole day going to the villages. We are asking farmers to tell us about themselves, their crops, their market access, their livestock and fish, and of course their needs and challenges. We also ask them to address their challenges and come up with sustainable solutions. We do this so in order to tailor solutions that they understand.
We also created a survey for village elderswhich asks questions that are more general to the area such as natural resources found in the village, infrastructure, water supply, and local and nonlocal crops available in the village. This survey is carried out by our Operations Manager, Robert who is not from the area but speaks Luo.
Next week we will analyze the responses and write up a report, which will be presented at our official launch on Tuesday, November 5. We will also finalize our farming inputs package as well as look into insurance options for us in case of crop failure.
Stay tuned, we will keep you updated on our progress!
By Lisa Werk Nielsen