Quar ter Three, 2009
The Worldâ€™s First Golden Sorghum - P 4
Sorghum Farmers Get Help to
Produce for EABL Equity Bank Offers Credit to Banana and Sorghum Farmers
Issue NSIDE this
Africa Harvest Mobilizes Over Two Million Tree Seedlings - P 3 ABS achieves significant Progress for Burkina Research - P 5
Africa Harvest to Help
Sorghum Farmers Produce for EABL
L-R: Drs. Clement Kamau, James Onsando and Silas Obukosia visit a sorghum trial site in Kenya
frica Harvest has launched a project to help sorghum farmers improve the quantity and quality of their crop for uptake by East African Breweries Limited (EABL). The three-year project will focus on enhancing the sorghum supply value chain through removing bottlenecks, mobilizing farmers, building local capacity, strengthening seed suppliers as well as running a fast-tracked sorghum supply chain to meet immediate and growing brewing needs for EABL. A f r i c a H a r ve st Te c h n i c a l Director, Dr James Onsando, says the project will involve conducting a sorghum production and marketing b a s e l i n e s u r v e y, fa r m e r g ro u p mobilization and training, facilitating supply of suitable high yielding brewing sorghum varieties and linking the farmers to the EABL supply chain system. The project will start with a pilot
phase in Embu and plans to expand to other areas in Eastern, Nyanza and Rift Valley provinces. Africa Harvest plans to collaborate with the Ministry of Agriculture, Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) and local seed companies. Dr Onsando, who is also the Project Manager of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF)-funded Africa Biofortified Sorghum (ABS) Project, says â€œAfrica Harvest has big sorghum agenda for Africa. This includes brining efficiency to the the sorghum value chain and issues related to public awareness s for biosafety, regulatory, and intellectual propertyâ€?. Dr Onsando reiterated that sorghum, as a drought-tolerant crop, is particularly adaptable in marginal agricultural areas and has immense potential to fight hunger and malnutrition in Kenya, where more than
75% of agricultural land falls in arid and semi-arid areas characterised by low and erratic rainfall. For this reason, Africa Harvest has big plans to facilitate sorghum growing for food. EABL General Manager, Mr Josephat Ngile, says the company plans to develop locally grown sorghum as a malting substitute to barley, which is expensive to import at current market prices. He said EABL is proud to work with Africa Harvest, an institution that has a lengthy and reputable track record of small holder farmer mobilization and empowerment through crop value chains. He anticipates that the grassroots support that Africa Harvest will provide to the sorghum farmers will improve sorghum grain supply for EABL as well as generate incomes and create wealth for communities living in marginal and drought prone regions in Kenya.
Indigenous trees seedlings at a farmer-owned nursery
AFRICA HARVEST MOBILIZES
OVER TWO MILLION TREE SEEDLINGS
frica Harvest's Tree for Energy (TFE) Project raised 2.3 million tree seedlings and oversaw the planting of 560,000 on farms and along two river-lines and water catchment areas. The TFE Project seeks to address the devastating effects of deforestation, drought, uncontrolled erosion and siltation of dams that have had their combined effect on the Kenyan socioeconomic lifestyle. The project's first phase (which lasted about 15 months ending July 2009) mobilized 217 community groups representing over 4,300 community members that established 217 tree nurseries.. Over 50 field days and barazas, 40 community training workshops and 20 media campaigns were held during the first phase of the project. The fast rate of deforestation threatens the very existence of the Kenyan people. Over 90% of Kenya's rural population relies on wood for their
everyday living and due to this dependence on trees as a source of energy and an inefficient system of re p l e n i s h m e n t t h e fo re s t s a re experiencing a high level of degradation. In addition, Kenya spends over 3 billion shillings annually to import power distribution poles that could be supplied locally. Africa Harvest Technology Deployment Director, Dr Rose Njeru says the project hosted the first national conference on commercial tree growing. The meeting deliberated on the role of agro-forestry in providing energy needs for the country and incomes for small scale farmers through provision of power distribution poles. Dr. Njeru says the project has established tree nurseries to supply planting material for on-farm planting and rehabilitation of several water catchment areas including the river lines of rivers Iraru and Rutui. Three entrepreneurs were supplied credit to start special hardening
nurseries that would supply local community nurseries through partnership with K-REP bank. Communities were trained on responsible and sustainable management of forestry and linked to Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC) and other licensed merchants as outlets for power distribution poles and other wood products. The project also carried out a national survey on the potential of Jatropha Carcus and other plants for biofuel production. The report was presented to the Ministry of Energy. Dr Njeru says Africa Harvest is looking forward to building upon its successes in future. â€œWe would like to fine-tune the building of a replicable m o d e l w h e r e h i g h l y d e g ra d e d ecosystems can restore their watersheds, control erosion, improve biodiversity and enhance rural livelihoods. Successes from this project can be replicated elsewhere in Kenya, Africa and the world,â€? she says.
Africa Harvest Participates at World Agroforestry Congress
delegation from Africa Har vest participated in several aspects of the recent World Congress on Agroforestry held at the United Nations Environmental Program's facility in Gigiri, Nairobi from 24th to 28th August 2009. The leader of the delegation, A f r i c a H a r v e s t ' s D i re c t o r fo r Technology Deployment, Dr Rose Njeru, gave a presentation on the rehabilitation of degraded river-line in Mount Kenya Region. After the presentation, Mr. Hubert De Foresta, editor of an international journal said Africa Harvest's intervention â€œis very interesting as success stories are not so commonâ€?. Dr Njeru welcomed the invitation by Mr. De Foresta to submit a manuscript about the project to his journal.
Africa Harvest CEO, Dr. Florence Wambugu (right) leads a discussion during a recent forestry meeting
Africa Harvest displayed its successful Tree For Energy project in the exhibition stands. Over 50 delegates visited the stand to learn more about the rehabilitation of water catchment and river lines, planting trees for
production of charcoal and firewood, planting of fast-growing eucalyptus trees for provision of power distribution poles and the feasibility study of large-scale biofuel production.
Equity Bank Offers Credit
Deal to Banana and Sorghum Farmers Equity Bank has partnered with Africa Harvest to provide access to credit for farmers involved in the Tissue Culture Banana and Sorghum Deployment projects. Equity Bank's Agribusiness Marketing Manager, Mrs. Esther Muiruri, stated that the bank will offer a special credit package to farmers involved in both projects to enable them to run various aspects of their farming enterprises such as to purchase seeds and seedlings, enhancement of their farming infrastructure and equipment or financing of post-harvest handling and transport of their produce to market. She added that the funds were provided by the Kilimo Biashara
Initiative that is supported by the Government of Kenya, the Alliance for the Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), Equity Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). Through the initiative, Ksh 3.2 billion is provided as a credit facility for low income and small scale farmers to enable them to purchase inputs to improve farm productivity enhance food security
and expand their income base. Africa Har vest Finance Director, Mr Michael Njuguna, stated that the organisation appreciates the effort by Equity Bank to make access to credit more affordable by farmers. He noted that the credit facility is very useful especially to TC Banana farmers who are currently unable to finance the purchase of the improved seedlings and to Sorghum farmers who need to upgrade their farms. He also mentioned that Africa Harvest will partner with Equity Bank in outreach to farmers. As well, farmers affiliated to Africa Harvest are encouraged to speak to their field representatives to learn more about the credit facility.
ABS achieves significant
Progress for Burkina Faso Research
n July this year, ABS Project Manager, Dr James Onsando, led a delegation of ABS communication, regulatory and nutrition team members to a twoweek meeting and workshop program in Burkina Faso. “ The ABS Project continues to make excellent progress in Burkina Faso,” says Dr. Onsando. He noted that the nutritional team led by Prof. John Taylor and the communication team led by Mr Daniel Kamanga forged critical links and laid the groundwork for two important surveys that are to generate data for the project. The surveys will establish baseline information on nutritional levels, perceptions on biotechnology, sorghum industry and communication across various regions in Burkina Faso that forms an important measure of the impact made and progress achieved by the project. Also, the surveys extract vital information that helps formulate strategic aspects of the project. “We are delighted that a team from Harvest Plus could join us to begin work in Burkina Faso,” says Dr. Onsando.
The ABS Project has produced the world's first golden sorghum enabling pro-vitamin A to be used as the visible marker for final ABS product
ABS Project Produces World's First Golden Sorghum
frica Harvest CEO and Coordinator of the Africa Biofortified Sorghum (ABS) Project, Dr. Florence Wambugu, told a recent Bio2Biz SA Forum in South African that the Project had produced the world's first golden sorghum “enabling pro-vitamin A to be used as the visible marker for final ABS product”. Making her presentation “ABS Project: Networking African & International Biotech Capacities to Deliver a Nutrient Rich Product to the Needy”, Dr. Wambugu said the new development was made by Pioneer scientists. She said the project has been able to significantly increase transformation efficiency, paving the way for it to transit into the Product Development & Deployment phase.
Dr. Wambugu told scientists drawn from South African research institutions and the private sector that the ABS Project had trained 11 African scientists and breeders in a short period of less than five years. She said the project had conducted six field trials in four years and contained greenhouse work was continuing in Kenya and South Africa. Bio2Biz SA is hosted by South Africa's Biotechnology Innovation Centres (BICs) comprising of BioPAD, Cape Biotech, LIFElab and PlantBio, together with the Innovation Fund and eGoli Bio. It brings together biotechnology researchers and industry to create mutually beneficial relationships. This year, the meeting was held at the Durban International Conference Centre (ICC) from September 20th to 23rd.
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