Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A lady with her two daughters suspected to have been poisoned

By Kelvin Koinet.
A lady and her two young daughters were admitted at Entasopia health centre for three days since Friday 26th 10 2012 to Monday 29th 10 2012 last week for stomach complication. It was alleged that they were mistakably poisoned by a woman who wanted to kill her husband, saying he was cheating on her.

The lady reported that the couple from Ilkisongo community in Tanzania has not been in terms for a long time. They had a big quarrel a day before the incident. The woman was heard by neighbors talking at the top of her voice about her ‘unfaithful’ husband. As reported, the woman promised to poison the husband and kill the woman he is moving out with by cutting her with a panga. She said in her angry talk she will then disappear from the place after the killing.  

On Thursday, the lady had gone to herd with her two daughters in Mr. Tolus, their neighbors’ garden where the couple has rented a farm to cultivate. They have been herding there for quite a while since the beginning of the dry season. As reported by Mrs. shung’eya, they were good friends with the Ilkisonko woman and she always give them tea when they go there to herd and she gave them milk whenever they come to ask for. ‘That day we were not given tea’ she said. After asking for the tea that was in a kettle next to the fire place for several times and the woman resisted to give out saying it belongs to the husband, Mrs. Shung’eya offered to give milk to be used to cook some other tea after they drink the first. At last the three took the tea. Another woman passed by and shared the tea.
Two young girls at the Entasopia health centre wards after being admitted.
 They were surffering from stomach complications.
 photo by Kelvin Koinet.

Later when they went home after herding, they started feeling ill. That night, they suffered stomach pain and diarrhea. The three were rushed in a motor bike to Entasopia health centre the following morning where they were admitted.

Lap technicians Joseph Kasio and Mr.Macharia said there has been reported cases of stomach problems but most have bacterial infections. when asked about the family and the other woman, they said nothing have been seen through the microscope available at the centre. They added that machines available at the centre can not detect chemical infections. 

The other woman who shared the tea is said to have suffered stomach pain and diarrhea but has not reported to hospital. Mrs. Shung’eya and many people from the neighborhood beliefs the woman had poisoned the tea for her husband but hit the untargeted.

The suspect was also found fainted near her homestead the same morning when the three were rushed to the health centre. She vomited and diarrhea and suspected to have tried to commit suicide.   

In another story, early Tuesday morning the 23th Oct 2012, a nother lady was caught near her homestead in a neighboring village of Ngomongo attempting to commit suicide. The lady was attempting to take some lethal pesticides. This followed a quarrel with the husband the previous eve for coming home late. The lady accused him of having affairs with another woman. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Which is the way about selling of our horticulture?

By Kelvin Koinet

Horticultural crops development authority (HCDA) represented by Kajiado County HCDA station manager Mr. Kitili has been on the ground at Nguruman since the beginning of this month amid capping farmer’s exploitation by their agricultural produce buyers mostly agents who link farmers and exporters.

A statement from a farmer, Mr. Kahuria Ndung’o said ‘we don’t know which way to go about selling our horticulture produce. Earlier, we had groups but they did not help. Now if the buyers’ agents register with (HCDA) office, does it solve the farmer’s problem or will it leaves us in the same darkness!’

When the Asian vegetables cultivation began in 1992, the business was good. Farmers signed contracts with the exporters and they had accounts with the exporters and payments were made monthly. Later when production was in access, other buyers intruded and started buying in cash. Its then that prices dropped and since then most farmers have vacated the business after realizing they have been running it to loss. Other horticultural produce like mangoes, bananas, tomatoes, watermelon, onion and many other have ever been bought without contracts and have suffer low prices. Mr. Kiruri explained to Nguruman community voices that it is hard to control agricultural business since the market is free at the consumer side. Consumers buy goods where they wish and at the price they can afford at the time and when we become hard on buyers, we might loss the little that we are getting. He further explained that Horticultural produce are perishable so farmers have to sell immediately at the available prices.  

A meeting was held on thursday the 25th October 2012 at the Agricultural grounds between HCDA, ministry of Agriculture (MOA) and Nguruman farmers. The aim was to discuss and organize farmer’s best way to sell their horticultural produce and ask them to bear with the current restriction put against the agents buying from the area until they register with HCDA and adhere with the laws therein. The agents will be identified with a budge and a certificate of registration. They will be required to have a list of farmers from whom they are buying produce and the produce each farmer is producing together with a signed agreement between the agent and the farmers group. The agreement will stipulate the agreed produce in terms of type, quantity and quality for a specific period of time and price.

The meeting at Nguruman Agricultural  grounds.
photo by Kelvin Koinet
Mr. Mabeer Parmuar argued that ‘agents to register with HCDA and farmers will decide on their own where, to whom and how to sell their produce’.  Argument was there has been such plan in the past but nothing has been attained. Another farmer, Mr. Oleshakai Ong’eetiai urged the ministry of agriculture and HCDA ‘to have a strong stand to defend farmers since they are in position and are authorized by the government to do so’.

Mr. Kitili from HCDA urged the farmer to join hands with HCDA to make sure that they attain best horticultural produce prices. He said the best procedure will be farmers to form groups so as to organize themselves and sign contracts with the buyers at the agricultural office so as to get appropriate guidance. This will make sure prices are constants and that they are assured of selling the produce.

Farmers concern was whether HCDA will be able to control the agents from exploiting them knowing that they do not have constant produce throughout the year. On the same meeting, TATA chemicals Magadi, a company that runs the soda mining at Lake Magadi reported that farmers are now diverting the water that goes to the companies’ intake and use it for irrigation. This is certainly due to water shortage at the time, a clear indication that farmers will not be able to produce consistently. As farmers are supposed to form groups and elect management committees, there was fear that corruption may foul the process and the consistent of the plan. Exporters are also suspected to corrupt the deal.

An agreement was reached at forming farmers groups and agreements will be signed between agents and farmers.

An elder asked Mr.Kitili to maintain his stand to make sure that the plan is attained saying there have been such leaders with strong ambitions but they were brought down by corruption. ‘Now they just sit in offices and grow big bellies while the people they are supposed to serve are suffering’ he added.    

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Community members raise concerns over job opportunities

By Joshua Kisemei

Yellow House Company has decided to reshuffle its workforce in order to increase participation of group ranch members in the implementation of the Small Scale Horticultural Project that intends to rehabilitate the irrigation system in Nguruman.This is after the community raised an alarm over job opportunities for their members.

In a meeting held on the 10th of October 2012, community members complained that most of the people working in the project’s casual section have been outsourced by plumbers and sub-contractors from other areas.

"Sometimes we give the plumbers a list of people to employ but they still bring in more people from outside the group ranch" said a member of Nguruman Irrigation Water Users Association’s (IWUA)committee.
Masons working on a weir protecting the irrigation water intake.
(Photo: Kelvin Koinet)
The committee which is charged with the responsibility of overseeing implementation of the project on behalf of the farmers decided to review the list of workers and give priority to members of the group ranch.

The IWUA chairman assured employees who are members of the group ranch that their jobs were secure. "Members of Olkiramatian group ranch don’t have a problem, your jobs are secure. However if you have indiscipline cases like incitement and theft you will be penalized." The committee also developed a list of 24 members who will be trained as plumbers. Among the 24, the best 12 will be selected to take over repair and maintenance when the project is handed to the Nguruman IWUA committee.

Other issues discussed in the meeting included theft of company tools which has grown rampant. That same morning a group of employees were caught stealing equipments from the site among them, spades and other tools.

"I saw them carrying bags and asked to inspect them. When they finally agreed to spill out the contents, I was surprised," said Joseph, one of the site guards.

The workers brought the issue of late payment of their wages to the meeting. It was agreed that instead of paying fortnightly the company should give wages monthly. This came after a recent controversy sparked by late and incomplete payments which led to a workers strike that prompted the company to pay all workers from 8th-10th October.

"Some of us have missing days. I have five days that I registered and I have not been paid for," said one employee.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Irrigation system set to turn tables in Nguruman

By Kelvin Koinet

The community living within Nguruman irrigation scheme is set to change their locally developed farming and irrigation system after the laying of a new irrigation scheme in the area.
The scheme is distinctive in the area with fertile soils, plenty supply of water and rich in vegetation cover. It is within Olkiramatian Group Ranch of the Maasai pastoral community, about 150 km from Nairobi. It is connected to the small soda ash mining town of Magadi via a murram road that runs through the salty plains dominated by stunted acacia trees, short shrubs and scrubs.  The scheme is divided into two main blocks. Entasopia block starts from Entasopia water intake, spreads through the Congo village while the Oloibortoto block starts at Oloibortoto water intake through Oltepesi village both ending at river Ewaso Ng’iro south about 8 kilometers to the east.
View of the scheme from Nguruman escarpments
Photo by Kelvin Koinet
Mr. Mathu, an agricultural officer in the area said “If appropriate farming and irrigation methods are used, we will produce large volumes of agricultural produce for the cosmopolitan community that lives here”.
Small Scale Horticultural Development Project (SHDP) supported by African Development Bank (ADB) and the ministry of agriculture is installing a new irrigation system whereby all irrigation water will be piped to the farms and sprinkler system will replace the basin irrigation. This is in a view to reduce water loss through evaporation and seepage. The efficiency of the system will reduce labor in terms of canal cleaning and maintaining and watering labor. It is expected that acreage under cultivation will increase from the current 350 ha to 1,876 ha and therefore increase production.
SHDP has facilitated the formation of a functional association (Nguruman Irrigation Water Users Association) whose main objectives are to manage the scheme in terms of operation and maintenance of the irrigation infrastructure, production and marketing of horticultural produce, environmental conservation and conflict management. The association seeks to mitigate low prices of agriculture produce and poor transport infrastructure as well as forming a link between farmers and the SHDP. The association is registered with the ministry of gender and social services.  There are challenges though. Members have not held elections as stipulated by the constitution. It is now four years yet they should have been held after three years.
It is important to understand the history of farming in the area which is believed to have commenced in early sixties and development can be traced back to the time. The pioneers were the Sonjo and the Waarrusa communities from Tanzania. During that time in the early sixties, the Maasai community was purely pastoralist practicing the nomadic pastoralism in the open Olkiramatian plains. Later a few Maasai community members came to Nguruman for farming.
Irrigation water is abstracted from the two main rivers Oloibortoto and Entasopia that transverse the scheme down from Nguruman escarpment. Up to date, Water for irrigation is drawn from the rivers using simple division by gravity into constructed canals that lead to farms.  In the beginning, Irrigation was by flooding and farmers used water whenever they want because it was plenty. Crops grown were maize, cassava, sweet potatoes, millet, sorghum, guards, pumpkin, bananas, mangoes and sugar cane.
Each canal is now managed by an elected committee that ensures the watering schedule is followed and the canal is maintained. Farmers today use basin irrigation where the land is tilled and basins are constructed to retain water. Crops grown have also changed. As reported by Mr. Bainito, Agricultural Extension Officer (AEO) Magadi, in 1991 the ministry of agriculture introduced the Asian vegetables for export. The business brought a lot of revenue to the farmers and this catapulted the area to fame thereafter.
Members of the scheme are now taking sides concerning the project. Part of the community thinks the project will create a micro economic zone and promote faster development.
A bigger percentage of the community is not for the new irrigation project. “Honestly I don’t like the project. We are afraid of the change, because we are uncertain of the outcome. What will happen to the wildlife and cattle that is depended on the natural rivers and irrigation canals as water points? Is there a provision for water points for them? We may lose our wildlife”, Satia, a youth from the area and a research assistant at ICIPE questioned.

Farmers say there will be an obvious wildlife human conflict for water and feeds if all the green that is mostly on canals will be gone. A student from an American university taking environmental studies established that if all the irrigation water is tapped in to pipes, most of the figs and many other tree species growing along water canals may be phased out. Farmers fear that birds will eat their corn or they may poison them all. As observed by a group of resource assessors from Olkiramatian Research Centre, Lalleenok. Over twenty birds of different species visit a fig tree in thirty minutes to eat figs or to rest. That may mean the birds will have crops as alternative feeds and habitat.

The community feels that there should have been a lot of consultations which they claim have not been the case. But now that the project has started, they are asking for a provision for water to flow in the initial water ways at least once a week for the vegetation, livestock and wildlife.

“If all that the community is asking to be considered is in cooperated, then we have the best project ever”, One of the farmers said.