VACID Africa Info on Saturday, July 27 2019, 09:06 am

Agro-Food Hub Model

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VACID Agro-Food Hub Model

VACID has established model farms to promote high valued animals, fruits, vegetables and herbs in Kenya.

  1. Nyeri North, Kieni East, Thegu location, Thungari sub location. This is a semi-arid area that targets youth especially those living in Solio IDP settlement scheme, who are in dire need of economic empowerment.
  2. Nyeri South, Municipality, Mukaro Location, Kinunga sublocation. This is a high potential area that taps youth in urban and peri-urban areas in Mt Kenya region.
  3. Muranga County, Maragwa Constituency, Makuyu Ward – This is an area with high levels of unemployment among the young people. The hub is focusing on empowering youth in agro-entrepreneurship through art and craft and designs. Through one of VACID staff, Ann Wairimu, she is passionate about art and craft through bead work, wood work, metal work and leather work. Being in charge of this Hub she equips gifted and talented personnel with a curriculum which empowers them to earn a living from their uniqueness

The youth are allowed to bring with them innovative ideas, ready uptake of technological know-how and a willingness to take risks. This helps them to counter their negative attitude towards agriculture. VACID targets the youth who are willing and able to become agro-entrepreneurs and be role models in the communities.

VACID aims at building collaboration with other organizations that can enhance digitalization and financial solutions to the young agro-entrepreneurs.

Model farm established with split plots of various indigenous and exotic animals, fruits, vegetables and herbs for innovation activities and training of the youth relevant stakeholders in the region. This is coupled with vertical gardens, hydroponics and aquaponics.

Different skills are learnt on how to grow a variety of short season fruits, vegetables and herbs that can easily be accommodated in kitchen and mobile gardens, where enough fruits, vegetables and herbs can be obtained with surplus sold to the local market and beyond. This also facilitates promotion of urban gardening and home gardening on small pieces of land and vertical gardens.

Small ruminant animals and insects are also reared for food, feed and manure. This includes dairy goats, rabbits, chicken, bees and edible insects.

The demo farm is managed by the youth trainees and volunteers, comprising mainly students from neighboring polytechnics and schools, who dedicate their free time and weekends to manage the farm and perform different innovations using the farm produce.

Exotic animals and plants that are used by a cultural group as a food source or ornamental, may be introduced.

The crops to be introduced in the demo farm comprise of plants that tend to grow quickly including and not limited to:

  • Fruits
    • The persimmon, sometimes called the sharon fruit are high in beta ecarotene and minerals such as sodium, magnesium, calcium and iron, and studies have found that they also contain twice as much dietary fibre per 100g as apples, plus more of the phenolic compounds thought to ward off heart disease.
    • Pepino. Grows well locally. The Pepino has a light-yellow to light-green skin, streaked with purple vertical striping. The flesh, when ripe, is golden yellow with a narrow seed cavity. The Pepino is entirely edible: skin, flesh, pulp and seeds. For optimum sweetness, Pepino should be picked at the peak of ripeness.
    • Self-supporting plants that can be done in containers or clumps throughout the garden.
    • Strawberries are low maintenance, take up little space, and provide good ground cover; the border can grow in very small spaces, including hanging baskets. Cultivars to consider include Cardinal, Surecrop, Ozark Beauty, Tribute, and Tristar.
    • Blueberries that will be grown in containers. They require an acid (ericaceous) soil and have low maintenance, fruiting after about 3 years - and in the meantime make a very attractive patio plant. a
    • Figs gives a taste of the Mediterranean. They will need to be grown against a hot, sunny south/west facing wall, and crop best when their roots are restricted - so best in containers.
    • Perfect for any kitchen garden, gooseberries are versatile enough to be harvested for cakes, crumbles and cordials - or eat them straight from the bush, fresh and delicious.
    • A well-established apple tree is a real asset, and there is an apple to suit every size of garden. Varieties mix will be considered to pollinate one another.
    • Forage for hedgerow fruits in the garden. Delicious fruits that grow almost anywhere and don’t need much attention.
    • This unusual fruit is packed full of antioxidants and the blueberry-like berries make a delicious treat picked straight from the bush. Honeyberries are tough plants and incredibly hardy so don’t require much pampering.
    • Redcurrants, blackcurrants and white currants are perfect soft fruits for decorating desserts, makings jams and jellies, or adding to sauces. Perfect for growing in containers.
    • The mulberry produces large, long, black fruit similar in looks to a 3″ long blackberry. The fruit usually ripens when the weather is hot
    • We shall choose one that suits the local conditions through the advice of local extension office.
  • Vegetables
    • Lettuce greens are among the easiest and most satisfying crops to grow. Just by sowing lettuce seeds in the ground or a large container you start enjoying fresh salads in a few weeks. Lettuce comes in four basic types: crisp head, butter head, romaine and loose leaf.
    • Easy to grow in dense clumps that can be harvested frequently. Can be done in containers. Basil requires a sunny spot-and really takes off in hot weather.
    • Lettuce - Can grow in full sun to partial shade. It prefers rich soil that holds water and thrives in cool weather
    • Parsley grows fast and furiously and can be harvested within three weeks of planting. After harvesting the plant quickly rejuvenate itself.
    • Radishes are a very fast-growing plant and are relatively hardy. Most varieties have a relatively shallow root system, and sprouts emerge within days of the seeds being sown. Radishes are typically ready for harvest after just 30 days. Unusual varieties that have different shapes and colors will be applied
    • Spinach grows in full sun to partial shade and can grow in rich to average soils. Spinach plants are a hardy, cool-weather plant that will withstand light frosts.
    • Cucumber done in containers to allow them climb high and conserve space. In containers they get the extra heat they love and control moisture and fertility.
    • Asparagus – Considered to be one of the delicacies of the vegetable world, with a price tag to match, and have a distict, intense savoury flavor. Does well in light soil that warm up quickly and drain well.
  • Herbs
    • Geranium - They are easy to grow, colorful, and emit a lovely scent. Aromatic herbs that are good in repelling pests. Ideal for organic farming. Extract has various health benefits.
    • Lavender reseeds itself annually and can be harvested, dried, and used for bouquets, sachets, and soaps. In addition, the lavender plant is a great pollinator attractant. Planted with fruit trees to discourage flees and moths while attracting beneficial insects such as bees, ladybugs, and praying mantises.
    • Rosemary. An attractive evergreen shrub with needle-like leaves and brilliant blue flowers. The flowers of evergreen rosemary fill the air with a nice piney fragrance. This beautiful herb, mostly used for seasoning dishes, is also commonly used as ornamental plantings in the landscape.
    • Chives. Their blossoms or flowers are excellent for garnishing salads, cheeses or vegetable dish Chives are filled with antioxidants, vitamins A and C, and phytochemicals (which have antioxidant-like benefits)
    • Mint Quick-growing, useful herb deters ants, fleas, aphids, cabbage moths, and rodents. It will be intercropped with other plants. Mint also attracts earthworms to the garden for better soil aeration and nutrients. To prevent rapid spread ad difficult to remove, mint will be planted in bottomless container.
    • Pep Require the same growing conditions as tomatoes: heat, full sun, water and nutritious soil. This will include sweet bell or banana peppers and hot, Ancho (poblano) peppers; jalapenos and habaneros
    • Ginger. Super food is known for calming nausea and motion sickness and reducing inflammation. There’s also some evidence that raw ginger might ease sore muscles, alleviate symptoms of arthritis, and maybe even slow the growth of cancer cells.
    • Thyme. This sun-loving, drought-tolerant herb forms carpets of foliage in herb beds or containers and can even be planted between stepping-stones in a walkway. Under drought conditions it concentrates its aromatic oils, resulting in better flavor. Often used in stocks, stews and stuffing. Thyme has creeping varieties, making it an excellent ground cover. Thyme is frost tolerant and grows best in free-draining soil in a warm space in your garden.
    • Sage. Sage is known for its healing abilities for colds, sore throats and mouth sores. It’s also commonly used in soaps and perfumes. Sage grows best in a warm, dry spot and will do well in post.
    • Lemon grass. Known to help with stomach issues, and depression, and has wonderful antiseptic and antibacterial qualities. Lemon Grass likes a warm, moist soil and prefers to be protected from the winds. Also grows well in containers. Produces Citronella oil, very special essential oils.
    • Marjoram (Oregano) is a favourite for many cooks, lending itself to Italian and Spanish cooking, as well as bouquet garnish. It has been known to help with nausea, and will also remedy colds. Marjoram likes a warm, sunny and well-drained spot and will grow well in containers.
    • Dill is an annual, self-seeding plant with feathery green leaves. It is used most commonly in soups and stews and for pickling. Dill weed is easy to grow and attracts beneficial insects such as wasps and other predatory insects to your garden.
    • Fennel is a beautiful herb to have in the garden. Feathery and fern-like, it adds both color and texture to your plantings. It also boasts a strong, licorice-like flavor. Fennel is a tender perennial crop. Leaves and seeds have a sweet anise -flavor, somewhat like licorice. Use leaves in salads, coleslaw, soups, and stews. Bulbs can be sliced for use in salads and side dishes, or roasted to mellow the strong flavor. Fennel flowers are edible, and make wonderful garnishes for fish, meat, potato, and tomato dishes. Fennel stems also look wonderful in fresh bouquets.
    • Leeks are very hardy vegetables, relatives of onions, with a milder, more herbal flavor that sweetens as it cooks. Although often considered a root vegetable, leeks do not usually form a bulb. The edible part is the bottom 6 inches or so of the cylindrical stalk, that has been blanched and kept tender. Leeks are most commonly used as an aromatic vegetable in soups and casseroles.
    • Others like chia seeds, black seed, cumin, coriander, flax, quinoa, among others

Some of these crops are for extraction of essential oils, like geranium, black seed, lemon grass, rosemary, thyme, mint, sage, lavender. Essential oils have strong local, regional and international markets for culinary, making soap, perfume, and insecticides. As the crop are relatively new in these areas, there is lack of planting material, knowledge and capacity to produce, process and market it. VACID is creating seedlings bank in its two model farms for distribution to the interested youth groups in the area, through the vocational training institutes.

 

 

  • Scented Marigold. These flowers will be planted in dense clusters around the garden. They are a benefit to all plants and can add a finished look to the garden. Scented Marigolds emit a substance that drives away root-feeding nematodes and white flies
  • Nasturtium. An edible flower that is attractive when growing and attractive as a garnish on desserts and in salads. This flower also provides benefits to cabbage, cucumbers, radishes, and fruit trees by repelling squash bugs, whiteflies, and cucumber beetles

 

 

Farm fencing

Live fences using herbs like rosemary and tea tree are planted for protection from animal damage, and as means of biological pest control (repellant). The fences considered for aesthetic view and for essential oils extraction. Mulberry trees are also planted for fencing and promotion of silkworm farming.

 

 

1.2Animals introduced

Rabbit. Gives the best source of protein and healthier meat. For commercial purposes, a variety of breeds are reared including Canada Giant, ILRI Giant, Flemish Giant and California White. Interested youth are introduced to commercial firms that contract farmers for rabbit farming. They are also trained on value addition to high quality products that can fetch more in the market.

Dairy goats. This is not new in the region, but seem to be vanishing due to lack of market for the milk, and follow up. Dairy goats can do better than dairy cows on a small piece of land leading to high quality milk for household consumption and value addition to high quality products for economic development. Lack of market for dairy goat milk has been a major hindrance to the growth of the dairy goat industry. Value addition of the milk to high valued products can offer a channel for promoting the dairy goat industry

Fish. Aquaculture farming is gaining popularity in the region, especially in aquaponics systems as an opportunity for diversification on crop and livestock farming. It is easily integrated into the farm system increasing efficient use of available resources by allowing recirculation of nutrients among different production units and optimizes use of water resources.

Poultry is promoted for food, feed and manure.

  • Indigenous chicken – known as kienyeji chicken, are well adapted to the local climate and fetch higher prices than exotic chicken. The Kari Kienyenji chicken is a fast-growing breed with better returns. The model farm has a hatching equipment that help to multiply the chicks faster for those who require them.

Quails. Once reared extensively in Kenya, but abandoned due to lack of market and competition from other poultry products. VACID considers quails as an alternative of food to other birds since its easier to rear and occupies small space. A sustainable quail breeding model is being established to empower farmers using indigenous quails.

Geese. Reared for food and lawn mowers a swell as protection of other birds. They also serve as home security due to their exceptional eyesight. They are hardy, resistant to diseases and do not need elaborate cages.

Guinea fowls. This are hardy birds resistant to many common diseases, adapted to a wide range of climatic conditions, and do not require elaborate housing. They produce meat rich in vitamin and low cholesterol and hard shell eggs.

Edible insects: Crickets, black soldier flies, grasshoppers, locusts and termites. Protein-rich edible insects are a viable and sustainable alternatives to animal and plant proteins for improved food and nutrition security. Priority is given to crickets which are very easy and cheap to rear and provide very nutritious meal.

Meliponiculture or stingless bee keeping. Stingless bees are hardy insects that survive in most parts of the country. The bees being stingless are kept in close proximity to the living quarters. The produce honey of superior medicinal value. Due to their small size, a large number of beehives can be kept within a small area. They can also be reared in greenhouses to pollinate crops planted there. Beekeeping is one of the most useful factors for increasing the resilience of local communities against poverty and climate change.

 

 

  1. 2.Training relevant stakeholders on;

 

  • Kitchen garden establishment and management
  • Good agronomic practices and animal husbandry
  • Business management and group dynamics
  • Marketing and postharvest handling including the construction of charcoal coolers
  • Value addition to different products like food and feed products and skin care extracts (cosmetics)

Training also includes on-farm production techniques, which stress the importance of soil fertility to sustain a continuous supply of the crops and the importance of protecting the environment by incorporating agroforestry and fruit trees into the farm cropping pattern.

Capacity building for schools, vocational training colleges various, interested groups of farmers, and individual is continuously conducted using the model farm and onsite visits. Through the coordination of the VACID Board members, short courses are being initiated through institutions of learning.

Voluntary demonstration trainings have been conducted for Nairutia Youth Polytechnic on setting up of vertical gardens for strawberry farming and adding value to dairy milk through yoghurt processing.

Capacity building focuses on smart farming for youth using local expertise and internet.

3.Promote consumption of indigenous and exotic animals, vegetables and herbs at household level through cooking classes and value addition

VACID engages the youth in inventions to develop various animal, food and cosmetic products using produce from the demo farm. The ideas are incubated through the learning institutions for commercialization.

The different innovative products are to be registered with KIPI and showcased through trade fares and exhibitions.

4.Promote home and urban gardening through mobile gardens, hydroponics and aquaponics, using waste materials

This utilizes waste materials like empty containers, utilized wood and metals. The initial focus is to give a few of such mobile gardens to youth persons with special needs, who can be able to perform minimal activities and can manage to care for it.

5.Promote conservation agriculture through organic farming by composting of kitchen/household, plant and animal waste for the production of organic manure and fertilizers

Organic agriculture involve a production system that is managed to respond to site-specific conditions by integrating cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity (USDA 2010). This means farming without synthetic fertilizers or chemical pesticides.Organic agriculture involves growing multiple crops in the same field.

Going organic is not only better for the environment and human health, but organic methods are also more productive. The inputs involved in conventional methods (mostly synthetic fertilizers) are more intensive than organic methods.

Composting: This uses the Counter-top Worm Bin. This is inspired by Appelhof’s (1997) booklet, Worms Eat My Garbage, Emily Wray created a counter-top worm bin made out of four Rubbermaid-type containers.

6.Initiate wholesale markets through creation of networking agents utilizing mobile technology

This engages ICT students to create a mobile marketing programs for

  • Fresh farm produce
  • Mobile gardens
  • Value added products
  • Training services
  • Consultancy services

VACID has created IFPYA website/blog for networking and linkages. We are also seeking collaboration with potential partners.

Conclusion

IFPYA aims at promoting nutrient dense agriculture (smart agriculture) through organic farming of indigenous and exotic animals, fruits, vegetables and herbs that can be incorporated into existing diets to improve nutrition and health at household level. The youth involved aims at practically setting up a farm in their locality that will be the basis for their innovations, to promote agriculture as a prerequisite to technological development in the region. The team comprises person enthusiastic with farming through sustainable methods that can fit in to local set up.Engaging youths to learn as they participate in promoting productivity in agriculture is not just necessary; it is critical. Knowledge-driven agricultural production needs to be now nurtured for local consumption and industry for agricultural transformation that is inspired through a formidable structure, strategy and systems.

 

 

Achievements

1.STT Innovators

The first IFPYA team has already been created at Dedan Kimathi University of Technology, Nyeri.

The group, Seed to Table Innovators (STT)came together to promote nutrient-dense agriculture through organic farming of indigenous and exotic fruits, vegetables and herbs that can be incorporated into existing diets to improve nutrition and health at the household level. The students aim at practically setting up a farm that will be the basis for their innovations, to promote agriculture as a prerequisite to technological development in the region.

 

Purpose: Promote functional foods with bioactive compound(s) for prevention and management of non-communicable diseases to enhance nutrition security and incomes through adding value to indigenous and exotic fruits, vegetables and herbs grown locally.

 

The STT Innovation Team

 

  • Group Champion

Monica Mburu, PhD.

Food and Nutrition Scientist

Dedan Kimathi University of Technology

P.O Box 657-10100, Nyeri - Kenya

Tel: +254 714 915397

Email:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

  • Student/staff Innovators:    These are from the Institute of Food Bioresources Technology, School of Chemistry, School of Business, School of ICT and DeKUT Farm who are passionate about smart farming for sustainable agriculture.

 

With particular reference to food security and nutrition, indigenous and exotic fruits, vegetables and herbs are rich in vitamins, minerals, proteins and anti-oxidants. They can improve palatability and add variety to diets, especially those of the poor. In particular indigenous fruits and vegetables are valuable sources of food during emergency periods such as occur during flood, famine, drought and war.

2.Voluntary work to mentor Youth at Nairutia Polytechnic, Mugunda Ward

The STT Team steered by Dr Monica Mburu with some Students Innovators, have been liaising with Nairutia Youth Polytechnic to guide them on smart farming and value addition of agricultural produce. Some of the activities include setting of vertical gardens and dairy milk value addition.

Yoghurt making

 

 

Setting Vertical Garden for strawberries and spinach

 

 

Complete vertical garden with strawbeerries

 

 

Youth Learning Catfish Farming in a Model Farm

 

 

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