Farming in the arid land of Kenya
By Adow Mohammed in Wajir, Kenya
Farming in the dry lands of Northern Kenya is not for the faint-hearted. It requires determination and hard work. Agricultural entrepreneur Abdi Mohamed (29) is setting the example. “Competition is not a problem as many here have not yet invested in agriculture,” Abdi says with a smile on his face.
His late dad Mohamed Ibrahim started the venture it in 1997 when Abdi was still in elementary school. He took over the mantle of keeping his father’s dreams alive and he never disappointed him. The farm, about 5 kilometers West of the town of Wajir in Northern Kenya, is located in rare scenery given the arid and often-leafless vegetation the region is characterized with. Read the rest of this entry »
Brendon Evans still has bad memories of the period he experienced when Zimbabwe’s notorious war veterans implemented the controversial and chaotic land reform programme.
Evans lost more than 200 milking cows, farming equipment as well as the farm itself. He then moved to Chimoio in Mozambique in 2002 taking with him only 20 cows, before President Robert Mugabe’s regime imposed a complete ban on the exportation of agricultural inputs.
350 kg cheese per week
In 2006 he became the first person to set up a cheese manufacturing factory, Gouda Gold in Chimoio and was officially opened by President Armando Guebuza, in 2007. The factory started by producing 350 kg of cheese per week and then increased to one ton per week. Its weekly production capacity is 12,5 tons.
It produces eight different flavours of cheese, yoghurt and also processes fresh milk. The cheese is being sold through supermarket chains, mainly in cities, catering companies, and airlines, among others. Currently Mozambique, according to estimates, imports at least 120,000 litres of milk per day.
The factory was constructed with a financial support from the Dutch government through the Private Sector Investment programme (PSI), which forms part of the Netherlands’ development cooperation budget. PSI contributed €845 000, which accounted for 60% of the total budget of the project.
Part of this money was used for the purchasing of high-tech dairy processing equipment. Its success rests in the partnership Evans entered into with Scherjon Dairy Equipment and Advance Consulting, Haarlem, both Netherlands-based. It uses the latest technology available in cheese processing. All parts of the operation are run by a computer programme and all stages are monitored in Holland.
The factory is strategically located on the outskirts of the provincial capital of Chimoio and is supplied with milk by 75 Holstein cows, which are owned by Evans. Currently the farm produces 16 000 litres of fresh milk per month.
Determined, is the adjective that seems to fit Linda Nghatsane best. What else do you call a public health practitioner who built up a successful farm in just three years, all in order to combat malnutrition?
In 2004, Nghatsane bought a 10-hectare farm in Crocodile Gorge Conservancy near Nelspruit, in Mpumalanga, South Africa. Today she is running a broiler chicken production with capacity of 25,000 chickens, producing oyster mushrooms, strawberries and a variety of vegetables in a R2 million turnover per annual business. When she bought the farm there was no infrastructure such as a house, electricity, water and not even a road leading to the piece of land which she has since turned into a flourishing farm.
Nghatsane started off with a broiler chicken house with a capacity of 1,000. The broiler production project was expanded by 3 more houses with a capacity of 9,000 chickens each housing 3,000; thus increasing her farm capacity from 1,000 to 10,000 chickens within a period of 10 months using own funds. Three additional poultry houses were built between July 2006 and April 2007 with a capacity of 5,000 each, thus increasing the broiler chicken capacity to 25,000 chickens within 36 months. In addition she also produces oyster mushrooms and cultivates vegetables.
The idea of farming started, while Nghatsane was training communities, especially women, on nutrition-related subjects. These women often challenged her saying that in spite of the fact that they have acquired useful knowledge on good nutritional practices, they are continually faced with the challenge of poverty and unemployment. It was then that she thought of the idea of combining agriculture and health in an effort to demonstrate that it is possible to combat malnutrition in some way.
Entrepreneur Woman of the Year
In 2007 she was named Shoprite/Checkers Business Entrepreneur Woman of the Year. In addition to the farm itself, Nghatsane also runs a business called Abundant Life Skills (ALS) that offers training and consultancy services related not only to farming, but also educating people about HIV Aids, how to manage childhood illnesses, health, hygiene, water and sanitation in general, rural development specifically related to food, and other issues relating to public health.
Maseko Dairies have enriched the cuisine of South Africa’s vast milk market. The products constitute a large array of sweet, tempting, indulging confections. They have added colour, taste and flavour to life and have become synonymous with feasts, festivals and celebrations in the country.
The five-million rand business is driven by an entrepreneurial spirit and a thirst for excellence, which have been injected into it by its owner and founder, Lulu Maseko. Maseko, self-made; built herself up to be a successful business owner through self-education, learning life’s lessons through personal experience. A proud dreamer and visionary.
50 hectare farm in Vryburg
Maseko, 43 left her job as an agricultural extension officer in 2003 to live on a 50 hectare farm in Vryburg in South Africa’s North West province. When she moved from Johannesburg to this rural area, it was a detour to the farming life she had long envisioned.
She went to the farm with a small old rattling tractor, a rented truck and 10 cross breed cows giving her an average 15 litres per cow per day. Previously the milk produced was sold to the local informal market.
Two years down the line, the project was a complete make over with 30 Jeyser cows, a state of the art milking machine, 15 employs, latest farming equipment and laboratory.
1.000 litres per day
The milk production also increased to more than 1.000 litres per day and currently she has 70 cows in milk. This saw the birth of a value addition factory making butter, yoghurt, cheese and other dairy products. The business turnover increased from R500 000 to R5 million per year.
Maseko has gone from strength to strength playing an important and influential role in the cheese industry. Her success is based on the understanding of the importance of quality, from the farm, animal, inputs, machinery, to the products she offers, as well as the employees. It is also attributed to meeting consumer’s needs proactively, client and customer relations, and keeping up with the pace of technology.