Currently showing: Food security > Farming


30 Oct 13 18:49

Speech by H.E. Governor Dr. Alfred Mutua, EBS during the launch of the agricultural subsidy program in Machakos County.

"Today marks a departure from the torments of hunger and confusion that have plagued our people of Machakos for many years. Never again will we allow our children to sleep hungry. Our mothers to queue for food relief and youth to scavenge because of lack of a daily meal. There are countries in the world that receive less rain than we do; lands that are patched with poor soils and uninhabitable climates and yet the sons and daughters of these countries do not depend on food relief or die of hunger.

Our people have suffered under the yoke of poverty and starvation, not just because of failed rains, but because of poor planning and shameful organization. It is indeed, a shame, for any leader to sleep soundly while a child lies awake with an empty stomach.

Today in Machakos, we have started changing that because it is our duty to take care of the children of God. Dependence only on rain-fed agriculture is not a wise thing. However, even as we plan for irrigation programs, we need to maximize on what God has given us. I am pleased to launch the subsidy program I promised while campaigning to be Governor. It is a comprehensive food security programme:

One, we have purchased 40 tractors that will plough farms free of charge so as to expand the amount of land under cultivation, so that even when rains are poor, we still have ample harvest. We will increase the number of tractors to 120 in the subsequent financial years.

Two, farmers will get free seed and subsidized fertilizer to support their planting. We are employing 40 Extension Officers and 40 Animal Health Assistants to train farmers on modern farming techniques and desirable crops to plant

Three, to ensure that there is always food in every home, Machakos residents, especially the youth, will be given free chicks (tuswii) and trained how to take care of them. Then, my Government will purchase the grown chicken and eggs and market them. We have already identified markets in Kenya, our East African Region, India and China and expect to provide two million chicks to farmers in the next six months, starting from today. Youth do not have to sit at bus stops chewing miraa. They can now tend to the chicken and my Government will buy grown kienyeji chicken from them so that they have money in their pocket for their livelihood.

Four, we are constructing silos so as to properly store food and ensure we curb aflotoxins.

I know I have spoken for long today. But this is because I know the pains of sleeping hungry, the grumbling of the stomach and slowing of the brain because of lack of food.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have to end the cycle of hunger and food relief in our region. This is just, but a beginning, in our program to alleviate poverty and create wealth. Our people are in Intensive Care Unit. These programs will move them to the general ward on the path to freedom from poverty. It is our role as leaders not to think about ourselves but to spend every waking moment strategizing and actioning projects to help our people. God has blessed us, let us maximize on his blessings. Thanks and God bless you."

October, 29, 2013, Kithimani, Yatta, Machakos, Kenya.


Category: Food security: Farming, Food industry, Livestock

Location: Machakos, Kenya


25 Comments

Clara Maingi - 31 Oct 2013, 10:30 a.m.

I have done quite some reflecting on this speech, and I really really wish my grandma (who was a poor subsistence farmer for the majority of her life) was alive to witness this (especially the free tractors) and all the new things like microinsurance, solar etc. My grandma truly believed - similar to Christina Kaba (see Christina's attached video) that our land is our potential "gold".
I am curious...what went through your mind as you read the speech above or as you watched Christina's video. Please share your thoughts :)

Clara Maingi - 31 Oct 2013, 10:31 a.m.

Paritosh - 31 Oct 2013, 10:45 a.m.

I have no words to describe. I believe that the majority of us (particularly on the internet), who have the ability of having a voice and being heard... misuse their power... Simply because we are far removed from the reality.. And the reality is this... There is hunger in the world while you leave that food in your plate... There is sickness in the world while the medicines expires in your drawer... We need to find many more Machakos around the world... Its sad that year-on-year we are just busy inflating our bank accounts to secure a future of ours which will forever remain insecure and is devised to be insecured... Yes its very painful to sleep empty stomach.. try it one day and you will know what millions go through most of the days of their short life...

Clara Maingi - 31 Oct 2013, 11:17 a.m.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts Paritosh - I totally relate to them. Sometimes I think about my legacy - what do I want to be remembered for when I die - and I sure wish I could do something related to ending hunger. Do you have any ideas of what we could do to make a difference with regards to food security?

Mario Wilhelm - 31 Oct 2013, 1:46 p.m.

This is very promising and there is more to come. I am just back from the FI2020 Global Forum (http://www.centerforfinancialinclusion.org/fi2020/global-forum/social-media-blog-coverage) where they had a panel on financial innovation around the M-Pesa platform. Financial solutions, such as payment, savings, loans and insurance, but also other products, such as solar panels, are now offered at an affordable rate through the M-Pesa platform. This is really changing the life of many people in rural Kenya and I am so interested to see how this will have an impact on rural livelihoods 10 years down the line.......

Emily E - 31 Oct 2013, 2:28 p.m.

Clara, this speech was incredibly inspiring...yet heart breaking at the same time. It really puts into perspective what 'hard times' can truly mean. I know that my daughter wouldn't appreciate the sentiment of being given a chick to raise for the benefit of making money for her future. As a parent and also someone who wants to make a difference in the world, this is a real wake-up call. Thanks for sharing!

Clara Maingi - 31 Oct 2013, 2:49 p.m.

Hi Mario, thanks for sharing about the FI2020 Global Forum. I didn't know about the financial innovations around the MPesa platform - those are really great things that they are innovatively working on!! - I will have to read up more on the affordable solar panels you mentioned as those would make a very big difference - especially considering we have so much electricity rationing and power blackouts in Kenya...and thankfully an abundance of sunshine. We won't have to wait for 10 years down the line to see a big difference - I think even in 5 years from now there will be a significant positive difference in the lives of folks in rural and urban Kenya :) I also envision a significant urban to rural migration

Clara Maingi - 31 Oct 2013, 2:55 p.m.

Hi Emily, your most welcome. Thank you also for sharing your thoughts. I am also in the same shoes as you - I would like my 6 year old daughter to grow up aware of what's going on in the World...and if I excitedly told her about the free chicks being given out in Machakos - she would probably blankly stare at me with the "really Mommy!!" look. So Emily, do you have any practical ideas on how we can bring up our kids so that they are not living in a "bubble"?

Ghadeer G. - 31 Oct 2013, 4:05 p.m.

Clara,
Thanks for posting this! When I read it, I not only thought of the children and the elderly that are starving, but I thought about the emptiness of our conscious. It is so easy to turn a blind eye and dehumanize those that are suffering, even those that are right here in our own communities. The burden of starvation and poverty falls to all of us in that we must unite as humanity to cure the ills of our very existence. We can comfortably sit in our homes and shake our heads, maybe even shed a few tears for the misfortunes of others, but what else is there? What else can we do? One of the precepts that I encourage, taken from Vital Smarts Crucial Conversations, is that of asking ourselves, "what do I really want and what am I behaving like I really want?"
I have been so guilty of feeling guilty about the plight of others, but doing nothing, filling up my mind with reasons, excuses why I can't. Overscheduling to avoid being available to serve. But, if I check myself, I realize that there is nothing more important, nothing more meaningful and valuable than for me to give, to share who and what I am...not for my own personal gain, but because I was created to link into others lives, to pass along good and right and safety and nurture.
Dr. Seuss has this amazing book called "Oh The Places You'll Go". My favorite passage from that book reminds us that no one can do what we were meant or called to do with our gifts, talents, abilities, and strengths. If we limit ourselves in giving to others and improving the lives of those near and far, then we are not authentically ourselves and what, then, is the value in our own humanity?

Ghadeer G. - 31 Oct 2013, 4:16 p.m.

Paritosh,
Well stated! I think we have made the mistake of believing that our "wealth" as it were, was meant to be stored up for our own comforts rather than shared and distributed to improve the world around us. It is the insecure world system that has taught us to be comfortable with misuse of what could serve the greatest good for all.

Ralph Kilondu - 31 Oct 2013, 8:03 p.m.

I am very happy to see what our Governor is doing for our people in terms of addressing the food insecurity that has affected them for so long. Being a part of the diaspora that comes from Machakos county, I salute him for his vision of being a part of the solution, as well as being the main galvanizer in pulling his people together to address food production and in return, creating youth employment. It will never be the same for our folks who have toiled for so long. I also hope that this model of engagement at the grass roots gets replicated through out the country.
Proud of you, Mr.Governor,

Sincerely,
Ralph Kilondu,
Atlanta, GA

Ralph Kilondu - 31 Oct 2013, 8:06 p.m.

Thanks Clara for sharing..

Paritosh - 1 Nov 2013, 12:16 a.m.

Tons of ideas I have. One of them one is forming a United Corporates, on the lines of UN. Afterall the best brains of the world work for them and if they could form a cross corporate and cross industrial team, they could not only solve food problems but various other problems faced in many parts of the world and by humanity!

Suzanne - 1 Nov 2013, 9:56 a.m.

"Our people have suffered under the yoke of poverty and starvation, not just because of failed rains, but because of poor planning and shameful organization. It is indeed, a shame, for any leader to sleep soundly while a child lies awake with an empty stomach."

It has long being thought that there is no success in farming without adequate rain. I am grateful for the inspiring governor's speech as it goes to prove that Kenyans can use the resources provided to improve their techqniques so as to create sustainance.
In the words of the wise, sometimes it's better to work smart and the education they will recieve about farming techniques will prepare for the most dry of situations and this will renew the faith of people that may have long given up waiting for rain.
It does take a leader with foresight and a heart for the people to accomplish this, so congratulations to you gorvernor and thank you Clara for blogging about empowering people. It would have been easy for the governor to just distribute food and call it a day, but he realizes there has to be a way to continue to grow the grain for life inorder to improve livelihood

Emily E - 1 Nov 2013, 6:48 p.m.

Regarding the 'bubble'-I am unfortunately not sure what the solution is. I know that we try to be proactive in educating our kids on what is happening in the world, but sometimes real experiences can be what sticks. Hmm...

Belay - 2 Nov 2013, 9:03 p.m.

Thank you Clara. This is really an inspirational speech. I feel, we some of the fortunate ones should have done more to help our fathers and mothers break the yoke of poverty and sickness. The governor’s approach looks very practical - it’s like “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime” I hope this very basic principle will transform the community if those greedy opportunists as usual don’t take advantage of such excellent initiatives. I would be happy to know the progress….

Clara Maingi - 3 Nov 2013, 1:10 p.m.

Hi Paritosh, this sounds like a very interesting concept and I would love to hear more about it. Do you have a concept paper or something along those lines that you could share more details. I strongly agree with you - to solve these problems, we have to link as many brains as possible together - and then harness the power of collective wisdom. Please feel free to include my brain ....even just for brainstorming and fleshing up your ideas :)

Karen Kimmel - 3 Nov 2013, 7:23 p.m.

Thanks for sharing Clara. Looks like great progress. I'd like to also share a link for a not for profit organization that my husbands brother-in-law is founder of, Every Orphan's Hope (http://everyorphan.org/). The have a program called Chicks 4 Orphans(http://www.chicks4orphans.org). He's spends much of his time in Africa, supporting the work of this organization. I think the problem most of us have is trying to find personal ways to help others, donating time, not just money!

Clara Maingi - 4 Nov 2013, 11:42 a.m.

Hi Ghadeer, Thanks for your comments. I have been reflecting a lot on your comments and especially the question "What do I really want and what am I behaving like I really want?"...I have to admit that when I started thinking about this...I hit a mental wall...because my mind conjured thoughts of what a daunting task it is to undertake to try reduce starvation / food insecurity. I am now trying to breakdown in my mind, "bite size" chunks of actions that we can do to make a difference ...more to come :) - Please do share your ideas of practical actions we can take to make a difference. Remember, "A journey of a thousand miles , starts with a single step" - Lao-tzu, The Way of Lao-tzu
** I just ordered the book "Oh the Places You'll Go" - I bet T and I will enjoy reading it a lot :)

Clara Maingi - 4 Nov 2013, 11:52 a.m.

Hi Ralph, Thanks for your comments.

I share your same sentiments for the work Governor Dr.Alfred Mutua is doing. However, we in the Diaspora can't sit on the side lines and watch - we need get together and pitch in big time. Please see this and let's talk:
www.machakosgovernment.com/invest

http://www.machakosgovernment.com/GovernmentPhotosMachakos.aspx?PhotoID=6

Clara Maingi - 4 Nov 2013, 12:07 p.m.

Hi Suzanne, thanks for your comments. I think that it is still quite a reality for many, that without rain (or a borehole) there is no success in farming. When I last went home, I talked to someone who helped me see how it is possible to be a very successful farmer in those arid conditions. What they told me is that for example in many parts of Kenya - while we are doing great in our efforts to harvest rainwater etc.... we are planting the wrong crops. For example, if you drive through the route from Emali that my family uses to go to our shamba (farm) in Mbitini, you will see many farms with failed maize crops...What this person told me is that we need to educate the farmers in these dry areas (like Mbitini) to grow Sorghum - instead of maize (corn). The sorghum plant does very very well in dry climates and it's a very nutritious food. I will lead by example and ask my Dad if I can please use part of our farm (which mostly has mango trees) to grow Sorghum - and then donate this sorghum flour to the local boarding school(s) in Mbitini...I am excited about venturing into this little farming adventure. Will keep you posted :)

Clara Maingi - 4 Nov 2013, 12:37 p.m.

Hi Belay, thanks for your comments. This is indeed an inspirational speech - and one that I believe will be in History text book(s) one day. The best way to know the progress is to follow the Govenor on this link:
https://www.facebook.com/#!/MachakosGovernor

Clara Maingi - 4 Nov 2013, 12:37 p.m.

Hi Belay, thanks for your comments. This is indeed an inspirational speech - and one that I believe will be in History text book(s) one day. The best way to know the progress is to follow the Governor on this link:
https://www.facebook.com/#!/MachakosGovernor

Clara Maingi - 4 Nov 2013, 12:53 p.m.

Hi Karen, thanks for your comments and for sharing these links. I love their program Chicks 4 Orphans...you can bet that T and I will be buying some chicks (each is only $4). Very true...donating time is a challenge!

Ralph Kilondu - 4 Nov 2013, 7:25 p.m.

Thanks Clara...I agree. Lets talk soon on this,


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