Heads-up:

Starting at 9:00 AM eastern time in the United States on Wednesday, July 18, Global Giving will be donating a half match for the first $240,000 donated on that day. A half match means that if you donate $100, Global Giving will match this with $50. The maximum donation to be matched per donor is $500. Since this match is open to all 4600 projects on the Global Giving webpage, the matching funds will go quickly. Therefore it is important to donate as early as possible after 9:00 AM eastern time. Our goal for each organization for the day is to receive $1000 in donations and $500 in matching funds. Kenyans may now donate directly to Global Giving through M-pesa. I’ll send out a reminder notice early Wednesday morning with more details.

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It is estimated that one-third of the food harvested in the world is wasted before consumption. In some places in Africa up to one-half of the food harvested is lost before consumption. Some of the reasons for this include lack of proper storage facilities including refrigeration, improper storage leading to insect and mold damage, impassable roads, remoteness from markets, over-production of certain food items at harvest time, lack of adequate markets, corruption in the marketing of food, and so on.

Let me give a current example from Kenya. Charity Ngilu, the governor of Makueni, a semi-arid county, visited India and secured an agreement from India to import green grams, also called mung beans, a drought resistant crop ideal for that county. The governor indicated that green grams would fetch 100/- ($1) per kilogram (2.2 pounds) which was more than the going price of 80/- ($0.80) per kilogram. She actively promoted the planting of the green grams as did some of the nearby counties with the same climate. With the good rains this year there was a bumper harvest. Then the Indian Government placed an embargo on the importation of green grams. Consequently there was no market and middlemen, if they can be found, are buying some of the crop at 30/- ($0.30) per kilogram. The farmers therefore were making a huge loss as the Kenyan market is saturated.

Truck load of mangoes rotting when stuck on road to market.

Another example is that due to the heavy rains this year many roads, particularly, the local country roads, have become impassable. Farmer with perishable crops such as milk, vegetables, and ripe fruits were unable to get their crops to market. Likewise the heavy rains led to the rotting of some crops in the field or before harvesting.

These losses are all from commercial, large scale farmers who need to sell their harvest in the domestic or international market. This is where the post-harvest wastage occurs at the high rate of 33% to 50%.

Due to the excessive rainfall this season, part of our maize field became waterlogged and the maize did not produce  cobs. Rather than let this go to waste as a commercial farmer would have to do, our workers, Mudavadi on the motorcycle, and Sidi, standing, cut the green stalks and brought them to our compound to feed to the cows.

My observation is that the small-scale farmer actually has a negative loss. What do I mean by this? The small-scale farmer can use parts of plants that large commercial farmers are unable to use which they just throw it away. Here are some examples. When sweet potatoes are harvested, the green vines are fed to livestock. When green maize (which is called “corn on the cob” in the United States) is harvested the still green stalks are again fed to the livestock. During the dry harvest of maize, the stalks are ground up for silage for cows and the cobs are used for firewood. Any maize that is damaged is separated and fed to the chickens. Greens never go bad on the way to market because they are picked daily from the garden as needed. If there is a surplus of an item that can’t be sold, it is given away to relatives and friends.

The agricultural operation on our small farm is similar to everyone else in the local community. Gladys is the person in charge of the farm and knows how things are done here in Lumakanda – small-scale farming is actually an occupation that needs a lot of knowledge and experience. We, like our neighbors, hardly ever waste anything; never anywhere like the 33% to 50% that the commercial farmer does. In addition, we have almost no transportation costs and little packaging costs (the major costs for packaging is the 50/- ($0.50) for the 200 pound bag to store maize). On the other side of the equation, if a crop does not do well (such as our beans this year because of the excessive rain) since the farm grows a great diversity of crops, this is not the great disaster as it is for the large farmer who is dependent upon large fields of one mono-crop.

Therefore when comparing the small-scale farmer to the commercial large-scale farmer one cannot just compare yields, but rather the “effective yield” which is the total harvest less wastage. By this metric the small-scale farmer produces much more consumable crops per acre than the large-scale farmer.

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To make a tax deductible (US) or gift aid eligible (UK) donation through Global Giving,

For Transforming Community for Social Change (TCSC), go to http://goto.gg/31755

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David Zarembka

Transforming Community for Social Change (TCSC)

Phone 254 (0)726 590 783
Reports from Kenya: www.davidzarembka.com/

Email: davidzarembka@gmail.com

Webpages: healingandrebuildingourcommunitiesinternational.wordpress.com/

transformingcommunityforsocialchange.wordpress.com/ (Kenya)

innovationsinpeacemakingburundi.wordpress.com/ (Burundi)

www.fwaburundi.com/ (Burundi)

healingandrebuildingourcommunities.org (Rwanda)

 

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