Real IPM, Kenya, 23rd of January 2016 – part 2

Today is our last day in Kenya and we are back with Henry and Louise. During our last visit we did not see the microbe production and packing process so this morning Henry took us around the site.

First we saw the boiler. This heats the green houses with Macadamia nut shells.

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Then we looked at the production of Phytoseiulus. This is a predatory might that is used in various applications in things like Rose production and is Real IPM’s biggest seller. To produce a predatory mite you need to first produce its prey. So the first greenhouse we saw was producing the prey which is red spider mite.

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They produce the prey on beans. Interestingly they plant beans with trichoderma another product of theirs and don’t get soil disease problems with beans after beans. The next green house we went to is where they have the predatory mites. They infect the beans with the prey and once the predators have eaten most of the prey they harvest them. They get about 5 crops a year of Phytoseiulus. They produce about 40 million per week off 8ha of greenhouses

Once harvested they go to quality control

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This where they literally remove all contaminants so it is 100% Phytoseiulus. Below Gordon is checking their work

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Once they have been checked they are cooled down for transport. Different customers want the product in different numbers and packaged. The Kenyan market wants them in the tubes below

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In each each tube is about 1-2000 predators. They reuse the tubes a number of times. They produce 7 different types of predatory mites

We next looked a fungus production. They produce metarhiziums if various types which are fungus that eat the stages of certain insects that are in the soil. This have great potential for the UK if it wasn’t for the EU registration system. They grow the fungi on rice bran

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Once the fungus have eaten all the bran they are processed

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They are sifted and dried

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Then they are formulated and sold in bottles

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ICIPE the research organisation has 300 isolets of Metarhizium which they do not yet all of their functions. Real IPM has a bioprospecting team who are actively looking for new microbes which may be useful.

Another thing they do is testing of other people’s products for the Kenyan authorities . This is why they have a green house of roses to test products efficacy.

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Henry and Louise have been amazing hosts for us. They fed us, housed us for five nights and also gave us contacts to see around Kenya. Without them our visit would have been a lot harder. They are also two really dynamic people with a fascinating business. One I would recommend everyone to come and visit.

Many thanks Henry and Louise

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Real IPM Kenya, Thika, Kenya -17th of January 2016

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

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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.

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You can see the bags in the background with the kale. They also do different size bags for different plants etc.

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We then went to see some vermicomposting. These set ups are aimed at the smallholder

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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

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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

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Though the Kenyans seem to prefer goats milk so they are increasing their numbers of goats

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They are also growing a perennial plant called Napier for fodder. You cut it and it keeps growing back

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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.

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They are also looking at hydroponic barley grass as fodder for hens and cows

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They are also using the bags of hope for growing fodder for the animals as well as humans

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They also have their own hens to supply the canteen

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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

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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!