During PoppyLand Rotarian Ian Graham’s recent trip to Kilifi, Kenya he had a conversation with Rose Kigathi, Kilifi Rotary Club’s President about food security in the Ganze district of Kenya. Also present was Jennifer Grimm, Kilifi Rotary Club’s Treasurer and involved in education matters. Kilifi Rotary currently is part of a food aid delivery project in Ganze, which they realise is not sustainable over the long term.
This Sunday chat was around the wonderful swimming pool at the Mnarani Club, Ian’s Kenyan home!
Rose is an agro-scientist who lectures at the Kilifi Pwani University. She had just returned to Kenya after a year of carrying out research at Norfolk’s John Innes Institute. The people of Ganze, who are mainly subsistence farmers, always suffer when there is a shortage of rain.
Rose told Ian that an area of research she wished to carry out was into small scale community farming to find out better ways for the people to grow more food even if the rains fail. She explained that she intends to identify communities and schools to carry out a couple of pilot studies using local knowledge into the best way of improving yields on small farms.
Ian realised that he may have ideas on schools where Rose could immediately start off with. Through his charity Mnarani Aid, he assists some local primary school Special Needs Units where the teachers try to teach the children how to grow food so they can become useful to their family and community.
So he suggested that the Schools at Mnarani and Konjora primaries could be used. Rose liked the idea so we planned to meet the next morning at Mnarani Primary Special Needs unit, with the teachers from Mnarani and Konjora, where she could see the plot and talk to the teachers about her ideas.
So Monday proved to be a fantastic day. The plot and the one at Konjora was exactly what Rose was looking for. The teachers also thought the whole idea was really good. They would be getting advice on how to maximise their land and the children would be shown and learn the latest ideas. These they could take back to their families.
So how was it to work? The scheme would be a partnership between Pwani University, Kilifi Rotary Club, PoppyLand Rotary in the UK, the John Innes Institute in Norfolk and Mnarani Aid. If any funding was required for seeds, fertiliser, insecticide and Rose’s student bus fares Mnarani Aid would supply the funds through the PoppyLand and Kilifi Rotary clubs. Rose and her colleagues will advise the schools on what to grow and how to do it. They may also grow some ’Test Strips’ for differing crops etc.
So, the children (and maybe their families) should have more food and Rose will be able to advance her research. All will win by Rotary bringing people together in a partnership to forward the chances of helping to alleviate hunger in a sustainable way.