23 Feb Meet John Koileken, Narok County
John has a very diverse and productive farm. On his 2 acre farm he grows potatoes, beans, peas and raises chickens and cows for milk. He noted that he does not produce enough to warrant trying to access the Nairobi markets and sells instead at the farm gate as well as locally into the Narok market.
John has implemented several resilience strategies on his farm. He has stored enough silage for his animals to last an entire year. To store the silage he mixes wheat straw and husks, as well as maize cobs, with molasses and then compresses it under a plastic sheet and covers with soil. During the dry season when there is no grass for his animals he mixes it with Napier grass and corn.
On top of this silage, he grows pumpkins. Fodder security is very important for the Koileken family. As John’s wife explained, the money earned from the sale of milk was used to pay school fees for their children (2 boys and a girl). They milk 5 cows twice a day and get about 30 litres a day. They can sell1 litre of milk for 50 Kenyan shillings. The milk is collected on the farm and money is paid once a month. His family is a member of a dairy farmer value chain of 64 daily farmers that are pushing for higher yields. They are looking into a milk cooling facility but noted that milk is in high demand so it may not be necessary. The biggest problem for John was buying hybrid cows. Such cows are desirable because of the higher milk production but he exampled they cost around 70,000 Kenyan shilling and also require a lot of extra feed.
When it comes to crops, John told us he prefers short season crops which provide a more steady stream of income throughout the year. To support his horticultural activities, John has dug out a water tank under a field (5 feet wide, by 6 feet deep, by 40 feet long). The tank stores water that he harvests off his roof in the rainy season. The tank is simply a large hole lined with polyurethane, the top reinforced with wooden beams and then planted over. He told us that it cost him The water is clean: it is used for household and animal consumption. There is also another tank that takes overflow from the road and is used for irrigation. He told us that including labour, the tank cost 10,000 Kenyan Shillings to build.