Last night Gordon Whiteford,my fellow Nuffield Scholar, and I arrived in Kenya for a three week tour of Kenya and South Africa. Our first hosts are Henry Wainwright and Louise Labuschagne of Real IPM Kenya. Louise first came to my attention when she spoke last year at the Oxford Farming conference and I was sent a video of her performance http://www.vimeo.com/116287424
Henry and Louise are a British couple who came to Kenya about 12 years ago and started a company which produces biopesticides which control various insect pests. The business/farm covers 20ha and employs 190 people and they sell biopesticides around the world but not Europe due to issues with registration. They are looking to get their products registered in Europe through Real IPM UK. Personally one of their products is of interest to me as it could control Bruchid beetle in Faba beans which is becoming very difficult due to insecticide resistance.
This morning Louise showed around some of their site. First we looked at their “Bags of Hope”. So named by a local bishop as he could see the potential for helping local people
These are bags filled with soil and compost which you can grow plants in ” vertically” The plant in the picture is similar to kale and you can keep taking leaves and they grow back. This is a nutritious food for the locals. You can grow over 100 plants per m2 in these bags whereas on flat ground you wild only get 5-6 plants per m2.
You can see the bags in the background with the kale. They also do different size bags for different plants etc.
We then went to see some vermicomposting. These set ups are aimed at the smallholder
These beds contain worms which turn pulp into worm cast which is a great fertiliser. So smallholders are producing their own fertiliser. The beds also produce a liquid leachate which can be used as a fertiliser too. They also are looking at smaller versions which can be used in people kitchens
Then we went to see the biogas plant
This plant processes the canteen’s waste and produces gas which is then used the cook food for the workers in the canteen
Louise also has a pregnant Ayrshire cow which she hopes to produces milk from for the canteen
Though the Kenyans seem to prefer goats milk so they are increasing their numbers of goats
They are also growing a perennial plant called Napier for fodder. You cut it and it keeps growing back
Another project they have is growing Darkling beetle larvae for chicken feed. The Darkling beetle are very high in protein. They are grown in a bran.
They are also looking at hydroponic barley grass as fodder for hens and cows
They are also using the bags of hope for growing fodder for the animals as well as humans
They also have their own hens to supply the canteen
It was a fascinating tour this morning of how Louise and Henry look after and feed their staff in a self sufficient manner. Also seeing how the small holder side of the business is developing as this is a relatively new development for them. Their main business has been large scale biopesticide production to large scale customers. Hopefully when we get back here at the end of the week we can look around this part of their business.
Louise and Henry have really spoiled us today and after a great barbecue we walked to a local lake and saw some hippos
The hippos were on the other side of the lake and the zoom on the IPad is not good enough to capture them but this was a safe distance from the Hippos so we didn’t try to get any closer!