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A Curious Case of Learning From Mistakes

When I started out my mentorship journey, I had high expectations of what it would entail and how it would impact my endeavors in the ICT4 agriculture. But, liittle did I know that they would be exceeded!

Being a business and ICT guy, no one would have thought I would be remotely interested in farming, and thanks to YPARD, the opportunity to learn more as well as incorporate new skills came practically in this program and in my field visit to Machakos County.

My mentor, John Kieti, is a man with many hats; a tech enthusiast, lecturer, farmer, phd student, entrepreneur just to name a few. My first encounter with him had me all choked up, but he’s the kind of guy who’s so easy to be with that within the first 15 minutes, we were great buddies.

So enough with our first meeting; this is about my day with John in his “natural habitat”. Proudly sponsored by YPARD, I travelled some 500km from the Western part of Kenya (Kakamega), all the way to Machakos County. The long journey was a much needed road trip but it somehow got to my body because i felt sickish on the way. Luckily, I was back to my usual self in no time.

A view of Machakos County

On arrival ,John received me in town and we proceeded to his farm where he had a number of projects he was running. I got to see the maize and vegetables he was growing but what caught my interest were two things; his poultry shed and hydroponic project.His hydroponic journey was an interesting one; one that involved learning as he went along. From his experience, he realized that barley was more productive as compared to sorghum when preparing good results, especially in his area.

A section of John's hydroponic farm

I also got to see his chicks and chicken (kuroiler) that were professionally maintained by his farm manager as well as learnt of his challenges in the rearing of chicks in the area using incubators and the lessons he learnt along the way. He is using the hydroponic technology to provide feeds for his chicken and intends to supply it within the region within a couple of months.

Some of the chicks in John's farm

We also had the opportunity to have a chat about his phd thesis on the use of gaming (especially on smart phones) to increase youth engagement in farming. To put it simply; we “geeked out!”Being the techies that we were, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to drive up to Makueni County to see the developments of Konza city aka the “African Silicon Valley”. To be honest, there was nothing major to see but the mere fact that we were in the area and got to drive around the site was just plain awesome! Our thrill was however cut short when security came and asked us to leave (We needed authorization to be there…who knew??).

So what was my major take-away lesson? It would definitely be that with regard to agricultural endeavors, two things are key: Do your research and learn from your mistakes.

All in all, I would conclude that my trip was a tremendous success and I would love to go back and see what is up John’s sleeves this time around.

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Friday, 03 February 2023

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