Wednesday, November 21, 2007

FHF Intern Update - 10 days to go!

We visited 40 farms in Othaya last week and learned some important information that will help FHF members when they come in January. Some points I have noticed is that the milk production, per animal is on average lower then those in Wakulima. Also, only about ½ of the farmers we talked to use a teat dip after milking. Most of the farmers there feed napier grass and maize plants as the main staples of the animals diet. As well, dairy meal and pollard was fed at most farms.
This week we arrived in Embu to begin work on our final project for FHF. The Embu dairy has received funding for 50 biogas units. In preparation for the biogas, we are visiting the potential biogas farms to see how they cook now, etc. Biogas in Embu is rare, and most use firewood to cook with. Some use charcoal and paraffin. Everyone is excited about the prospect of biogas coming. Stephen and Faith, the FHF staff at Embu, are accompanying us around to each farm. They are very enthusiastic about the future of the dairy. Stephen noted that he was trying to convince some farmers in one area to grow maize as a crop for the cattle, but people in the area were very resistance to change and did not want to try anything new!
The three of us have noticed the difference in the farms and animals at the Othaya and Embu dairy, compared to those in Wakulima. The housing is especially different I found – in wakulima all farms have zero grazing units with a concrete base, while in Othaya and Embu they weren’t as common.
Today we are in Nairobi because Chelsea’s mom is coming for our last week here. We are picking her up at the airport and then heading back to Embu. Saturday we are planning a big ‘feast’ at our driver, Dominic’s house in Thika. He invited us for a dinner with his LARGE family (over 50). We are going to roast a goat and eat chapatti’s!! It will be quite the experience I’m sure!
That’s all for now - Cheers.

Julie Mutch

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Three weeks to go!

Well the last couple weeks have been very busy here in Kenya! We finished our work with the Wakulima Dairy and last week Dr. LaCroix , the dean of science at UPEI came to check up on us. As part of our internship with Students for Development, a representative from the University has to come see us! We toured him around the Dairy, went to see the biogas units, and interviewed those that will be receiving the biogas units. Dr. LaCroix also got to experience Kenyan tea ( half milk, half sugar, half tea !haha), and driving on the dirt roads when it is pouring rain!

One of the days was spent doing focus groups with farm women who ship milk to the Dairy. Dr. LaCroix accompanied us as well. We learnt SO much from them about the role the Dairy plays in their lives, why it is hard to get women to run for elected positions at the Dairy, as well as who makes the financial decisions in the family.

Here is the first group we talked to. They were all so helpful and had great responses to our questions.

At the end of the week we went on a safari to Samburu Game Park. We saw lots of elephants, zebras and giraffes, and we also saw two lions which was pretty neat.

After our safari we rode some camels.....that was fun! Except we were quite sore the next day!

On his last day here, we all went into Nairobi for a city tour. In the evening we went to the famous Carnivore Restaurant accompanied by our travel agent (whom many of you know), Henry. It was a great way to end the week!

The last few days, we have been in Mombasa for a mini-vacation! We got lots of sun and had an overall great time! The drive was long...7 hours each way but it was worth it!

Now we are into our final 3 weeks here in Kenya. Time has really flown by!

On Monday we are starting our work with the Othaya Dairy. We have between 30-50 farm visits to make. The information we are gathering will be used by FHF in the coming years.
Next weekend we are moving to Embu for our final 2 weeks!

Julie M.