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Showing posts from June, 2020

Son of a smallholder farmer in Kenya: Story of my life -Joseph Wambugu

Most smallholder farmers share the same story, especially those who rely on rain-fed agriculture. Poverty is the story! Joseph Wambugu 2009 Story of a son of a smallholder farmer-Joseph Wambugu I critique smallholder farming because of my passion for agriculture. I grew up in a family that practiced smallholder farming, and because no one knows where the shoe pinches but he who wears it, today I will narrate a story of my life and of my family. My grandparents, both maternal and paternal are in their late 80s and still in vibrant good health. They are all smallholder farmers. Maternal grandparents have been farmers for as long as they can remember. They own a 5-hectare piece of land where they have been growing coffee for the past 40 or so years. During the harvesting season, they always sell their produce to the nearest farmers' cooperative. However, they are only paid twice a year. This is due to the pretext that the cooperative  requires approximately 6 months to accumulate

Dairy farming in Kenya: What you need to know before you start

  What you need to know before you start dairy cows in Kenya.  Dairy farming is one of the most important subsectors in Kenya’s agriculture. According to the ministry of agriculture, Kenya has a domestic milk production of 4.7 billion kg per annum, with a corresponding per capita milk consumption of 90 kg, against a global average of 100 kg liters. Kenya seems not to be doing bad in terms of milk production. However, many people believe that the said local production is highly overrated given that Kenya has an estimated dairy cattle population of 4.3. In normal circumstances, Kenyan farmers do not manage to get the maximum productivity from their cattle, which makes it technically hard to proof the alleged 4.7 billion kg of milk produced nationally. In addition to that, it is believed that there exist a lot of border loopholes which have made possible the smuggling of milk and milk products from neighboring countries, in particular from Uganda. Whether this is true or not, the trut

Agribusiness Webinar organized by youth from Kenya, Ghana and Morocco

Ghana-Kenya-Morocco Youth in Agribusiness Webinar. This webinar we held on 20th June 2020 from 11:00 to 14:00 GMT. It was streamed through ZOOM and Facebook Live.  ORGANIZERS: This event was co-organized by the Ghana-Morocco Old Students Association (GHAMOSA) and the Association Of Kenyan Alumni of Morocco (AKAM) K EY TAKEAWAY FROM THE GHAMOSA-AKAM AGRIBUSINESS WEBINAR.  THEME: ‘’SUSTAINING AGRICULTURE TO ENSURE FOOD SECURITY IN AFRICA AMID COVID-19 PANDEMIC: KNOWLEDGE EXCHANGE AMONG AFRICAN YOUTHS’’ As associations of African professionals created with the mandate of promoting continental unity and supporting continental development, we acknowledge and understand that the food security challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic inevitably means that necessary joint continental action is required to sustain agricultural productivity to ensure food security for the continent.   There have been various calls for a joint African Response to defeat the COVID-19. For example, the King

Basics of Farm Business Management

Basics of farm business management that every farmer should know I went back to my notes of FARM BUSINESS MANAGEMENT AND POLICY module from Strathmore University Business School. I came across an exam question. I had managed to score 15/20 which is not a very good score. However, I believe that the content of my response to that exam question could help someone to understand better the concept of farm business management.   QUESTION: At a recent farmers' meeting, one of the audience commented: “There is little point in planning my business as the future is so uncertain. Look at how volatile the maize price is!” How would you respond to this statement in relation to farm business planning techniques and their applicability to such farm businesses in volatile market conditions? (20 Marks Importance of farm business management for small scale farmers The statement from this farmer raises an important question which is: What do farmers use to make decisions; through a logical process

Should subsistence farmers benefit from government's support in form of subsidies?

Government's support to smallholder farmers in Africa.    African agriculture is a very dynamic sector with millions of stakeholders who are mainly smallholder farmers. It is mentioned many times that over 40% of smallholder farmers in our continent are subsistence farmers (peasants), which means that they practice farming for self-consumption. The producer is the consumer. Being a consultant in agribusiness, I am always confronted with questions that are very hard to answer. And my questions today are: What is the value of a subsistence farmer to the country? Should subsistence farmers be benefiting from government subsidies? Trying to answer these two questions already makes me feel controversial because everyone has become used to sympathizing with farmers. However, I personally believe that the value of subsistence farmers is sometimes overrated. Tell me, what is the significance of a business that only benefits the owner? I know that this may sound too harsh, but a

How can I make money in farming?

Google Image Get rich from farming activities? Since the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, thousands of jobs have been lost especially in the urban areas. Those who lost their jobs are going back to the rural areas to start a farming business with the objective of creating a new revenue channel. This is a good thing and I wish everyone doing this all the best.  Having said that,  many people have asked me these questions: How can I make a fortune in farming? How can I make my first million in farming? And the questions continue, leading to the same conclusion: How to make money farming. I have researched online, and I saw many articles by bloggers responding to such questions. Likewise, many farmers have followed such pieces of advice, but the fortunes seem to be never forthcoming. If you intend to venture into farming, and you are still wondering how you will make your first million in farming, wonder no more. I have breakthrough advice for you. Free advice but remember to thank m

Financing Agriculture sustainably

Financing Africa's Agriculture Sustainably Farming is considered a high-risk business, that's why commercial banks restrain from lending to this sector, especially smallholders. On the other hand, governments across the world finance agriculture through subsidy kitties. Development organizations also play a very important role in financing agriculture through donations and community work. What is the current approach of the government in funding agriculture?  In Kenya, the Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC) is the sole government agricultural bank mandated to finance various farming activities eg purchase of machinery, rehabilitation of land, start-ups, processing plants, etc through affordable loans. Aspiring beneficiaries are expected to proactively present funding proposals or business plans for AFC to decide whether to finance their project or not. The other way the government finances agriculture is through affirmative action funds, where youth groups or women presen

How to develop Effective Communication Skills

Effective communication skills What is effective communication skills? I wrote this blog in September 2018 as part of a school assignment at Strathmore Business School. I wrote it to pass my exams then, but today I find it very relevant to anyone interested on how to develop their communication skills. That is why I am sharing it.  How true is the statement that says “if you know how to communicate you can go anywhere”. Since a long time I have been hearing people alluding to this statement, but I did not put much thought into it. The reason why this statement never awoken any nerves in me is because I have always assumed that communication is all about oral speaking, having a good voice, and eloquence. To me, good communicators were those people who can entertain a crowd using their voices notwithstanding what they said. To consider an example, people always said that if you are not a good communicator, you can never win a political office in Kenya. This is because politicians go arou

Anti-peasant model of agricultural development. Can it work?

Photo of Joseph Wambugu Peasantry farming versus capitalist farming My previous article that highlighted some complexities surrounding smallholder farming attracted a lot of reactions and feedback. While most people appreciate the important role of small farmers in feeding the nation, many were not convinced that smallholder farming can be the turning point for Africa’s economies.   Actually, some well-known thought-leaders were categorical that smallholder farming is the cause of our poverty.  This feedback is enough evidence that the complexities caused by smallholdings are a hard puzzle that has put our agricultural growth at standstill.  It cannot be overemphasized that agricultural development is seen as an antecedent to industrial development. Most countries that have achieved a solid economic development path had to get their agriculture right. Methinks, getting agriculture right is a sure ticket to industrialization since increased agricultural productivity can meet and