Sunday, January 31, 2010

Greetings from Kenya

Hello from Farmers Helping Farmers in Kenya,
Each year, 3 vet students from the Atlantic Veterinary College have been joining the FHF dairy project. Last January I and my two classmates, Gerald Dykstra and Shauna Richards, were excited to find out we would be going to Kenya. After months of preparation, we arrived Saturday night to the warmth and city noise of Nairobi, and spent the beginning of the week working in Mukurwe-ini. The Wakulima self-help Dairy there has been very successful and is expanding its operations and infrastructure. We spent the latter part of the week working in Othaya. There the country is beautiful and hilly, planted with tea and bananas. Of course, every farm we go to has at least one cow, usually with a calf or heifer. The people work hard, cutting forage for their cows by hand and carrying milk to collection points twice every day. Still, they are happy, and grateful for the help they have received from FHF. Everywhere we see evidence of past and ongoing projects, such as water tanks and school improvements. We spend much of the day going on sick cow calls, but the most important work we do is to give seminars on topics such as nutrition, mastitis prevention, and breeding. The farmers listen intently as Doctor John teaches the lactation curve, or the importance of feeding milk to calves. After the first seminar, one woman stood up and told the other farmers how, after the things she had learned at last year’s session, and making the simple change to three-times-per-day milking, her production was up. On Friday we left the hilly countryside of Othaya for Meru. We have spent the last two days working with cattle that are grazed in drier, flatter terrain, and mostly of the local Zebu breed. Today we held a clinic where, for 10 Kenyan Shillings per cow (about 15 cents Canadian) farmers could bring their cattle to be dewormed and seen by the vet if necessary. We saw 505 cows, bulls, and calves today as a little donkey watched on from beneath the meagre shade of an acacia tree; a long, hot day, but very satisfying.
Stay tuned for more
Aleta Schmah,
Atlantic Veterinary College Class of 2010

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Amazing Maize

by Teresa Mellish

The maize crop at the Ruuju Primary School is amazing! We saw yesterday as we travelled throughout the Marega area that their crop is typical of all the fields. After two years of drought, the women are so excited.

Here is a photo of Winston Johnston with Jane and her daughter from the Ruuju Womens Group.