Kenyan farmer harnesses Chinese innovation to boost yield

By Metro Reporter and Xihnua

Sammy Thimba, a middle aged Kenyan farmer would never dream of becoming a local celebrity as pessimism took a toll on him due to frequent crop failures occasioned by drought.


Rearing dogs for a living

By Felix Nenga

Having lost Sh6.5 million through an inferno in Gikomba market in 2008 where he run a timber yard, Cyrus Maina thought his life had come to an end as he had invested all his savings in the business.
The 47-year-old Maina says his life drastically changed from being a wealthy person to a penniless individual, not sure where his family’s next meal would come from.

“The inferno reduced to ashes all the hard work I had started back in 1996. But little did I know it was the end of one chapter in my life and the beginning of a new one,” he says.

What used to be a passion to him of keeping dogs became his business venture after he purchased his first German Shepherd puppy in Eastleigh, Nairobi at a cost of Sh20,000.

"I became jobless after everything went up in flames but in 1996 I had purchased a German Shepherd in Eastleigh which I decided to breed and I got other puppies but it was just a passion I liked, they were not for sale,” says Maina.
He rented a 50x100 plot in Riabai village,  Kiambu County where he decided to rear and breed different types of dogs for sale after realising the market was good.
“I keep German Shepherd, Dobberman, Rottweiler, American Pit-Bull, Ridgeback, Boerbull, Russian Mountain, Terrier, Japanese Spits and the Great Dane. You have to know how to train and bring up each breed because they perform specific roles,” adds Maina.
He adds that he spends more than eight hours daily attending to them.

“When choosing a dog for rearing, you should understand the breed’s needs,” he says.
“You should identify your personal circumstance for example your life at home, available space for the dog, the role it will play, and even the time available for it daily."

With about 32 hounds in his compound, Maina says customers drip on weekly basis.

 He, however, expresses satisfaction with the business.

“Dog keeping might look strange but it is a worthwhile venture. A young German Shepherd goes for between Sh20,000 to Sh25,000 while an adult can fetch between Sh80,000 to Sh150,000 if it is well trained," he adds.
Maina says he prefers the Rottweiler dog which police and the security agencies have discovered to be the best and have high demand. A Rottweiler puppy goes for between Sh40,000 to Sh45,000 while a trained one goes for between Sh100,000 to Sh150,000.
In training Maina says the dogs behave like humans and they take from a month to two months.
Maina says dogs require special feed but such feed can be supplemented by human food.

 He, however, cites the high prices of dog’s feeds as a challenge.
"Though the prices of feeds and medicine have been going up I’ve to bear with the situation as I have a wide range of customers especially security agencies who depend on me to deliver trained dogs,” he adds.
Maina also keeps other types of animals like goats for milk, rabbits, chicken, guinea fowls, Egyptian geese Turkey and pigeon which he breeds for sale.
He concludes that he does not regret losing his business in Gikomba as the dogs have provided him with a steady income. He has been able to purchase a one-acre piece of land in Ruai.
Maina encourages unemployed youth to venture into the business.

Kenya aims to produce one million tonnes of sugar by 2015

By Ronald Njoroge and Chrispinus Omar  
Kenya has set a target of producing one million tonnes of sugar by the end of 2015, the country's regulatory authority has said.
   Kenya Sugar Board Chief Executive Officer Rosemary Mkok told Xinhua that in 2012, the country's 11 millers produced 493,937 tonnes.


Electricity prices for all businesses in agricultural production and logistics will be cut

The reduction of electricity prices for all Chinese businesses in agricultural production and logistics effective June 1, seeks to help the enterprises grow, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) says.


Eastern African countries to harmonize potato seed standards

Eastern African countries plan to have a uniform policy on potatoes in the region with a view to promoting the popular crop.
  Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and South Sudan are working together to harmonize potato seed standards across the region.


Kenya now a major exporter of electricity to Uganda

Kenya is becoming a major exporter of electricity to neighbouring Uganda.
This is despite the fact that East Africa's leading economy imports power from its neighbours namely Uganda and Tanzania to boost its rising power demands. Of the two countries, Uganda is the leading supplier of electricity to Kenya.


Kenyan tea farmers to benefit from loan to boost yields

By Chris Mgidu
Thousands of Kenyan small-scale tea farmers will benefit from a major financial support to enable them improve productivity.
   The Bank of Africa-Kenya is seeking to anchor Kenya's tea industry through Chai Loan, an innovative credit facility that is expected to scale up farmers' productivity.


Kenya to give out 3.3 million free energy saving bulbs

By Chris Mgidu
Electricity utility company, Kenya Power, will distribute 3.3 million free energy saving bulbs countrywide later this year.
   The project, implemented under Clean Development Mechanism's (CDM) efficient lighting programme, will see the firm and the government replace ordinary bulbs (incandescent lamps) with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), which will benefit about one million Kenya Power customers.


Some countries are so envious of our horticulture, they are now malicious

David Nduati  (pictured)  the liaison officer for the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) Thika station, spoke to Metro's Anne Kiruku about Kenya’s efforts to comply with European Union conditions regarding maximum residual limits (MRLs) for the country’s produce entering the EU market.


Kenyans are feeding on flour laced with pesticides

The Kenya Institute of Organic Farming (KIOF) has been behind sustained efforts to discourage the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides by farmers. The Institute’s director, John Njoroge (pictured) spoke to Metro’s Anne Kiruku on the dangers presented by agrochemicals and the alternative offered by going organic.

Q. Does the government support your efforts to encourage organic farming, knowing that it is behind the provision of subsidised fertilisers and chemicals?


Small Green Things

By Isaac Kalua
Ant. A three-letter word. An insect so small that it often goes through life unnoticed.

How then does this little creature manage to build an ant-hill that is trillions of sizes bigger than it? Even more astounding than this,how does it manage to play a pivotal role in sustaining ecosystems.


Michelle Obama's kitchen garden

Many Kenyan women like having a kitchen garden  where they plant, say, sukumawiki, onions and tomatoes to help supplement their kitchen budgets. It  is good to note that they are not the only ones engaged in such activities as  U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama is also among them.


Where scrap metal "Rests" In Peace!

For years, many Kenyans have suffered at the hands of criminals  who vandalise any semblance of metal, they later sell, mostly for a penny, as scrap metal. The practice has since angered none other than President Kibaki who, when opening the Thika superhighway in November, called for the imprisonment of those convicted of vandalising road signboards, in the name of scrap metals.