Monday, May 26, 2014

why traceability can feed the world

Today, i came across an interesting TED talk, showing the traceability in the fish chain is the crucial entry point, in order to produce sufficient fish protein for the world. Jackie Savitz claims that if fisheries were managed correctly across the world (i.e fishermen are accountable and quotas implemented), more caught fish could be produced and feed more people. This can only be reached with traceability She also shows that caught fish is the animal protein that uses least water... watch it yourself :

So far so well, but in the livestock and fish research program, there is the implicit assumption there will not be sufficient caught fishes, and digs deeper into fish farms. Probably the combination of well managed caught fishes and farmed fishes will be contributing to more animal protein for the poor...

Monday, May 19, 2014

Does the new green revolution need GMOs?

A clear yes can be found in the latest economist on the new green revolution. A pretty interesting article based on IRRI information. It contains a very interesting pro-GMO discourse, to which i can to some extend agree up on :  the new green revolution will not be a silver bullet, but it will be a mosaic of context specific solutions. It is true that GMOs could be an answer to some specific contexts, such as marginal areas, for which it makes sense today to do some research to develop these context specific solution. However, concluding from this very true statement that one should introduce the golden rice, a rice enhanced by vitamin A in the Philippines, does not appear logical to me. Indeed, there are today only very few people who lack in vitamin A (unlike some decades ago). The context definition is just outdated. See my post about his issue.

Where i really started laughing is when i read the second article on the new green revolution, that shows that most of the productivity gain in Asia has to do with rental markets of machinery. Indeed, it is economically interesting if you can rent machinery, i.e. you don't need capital, yet you gain a lot of time to do other economic activities as you do not have all this labor requiring work on your farm anymore .
So i am wondering, why don't we first try to set the renting markets right and then check if in the new context there is really a need for GMOs before introducing them? 

Monday, May 5, 2014

The magic chicken or how Kuroilers are about to boost the Kenyan poultry sector

(please check Jolly Poultry if you are interested in getting your own Kuroilers) 
Chicken farming has always been an interesting option for smallholders in Africa to raise some cash and contribute to increase availability of proteins in relatively poor diets. Indeed raising chicken does not take much resources as they can be fed on agricultural waste and therefore barriers to entry are low. Smallholders usually grow endogenous breeds that are very well adapted to local conditions and are resistant to diseases, but productivity is very low. However, locals, both in Kenya and Ethiopia are ready to pay more for local chicken meat, at it seems to taste much better than commercial chicken. (Honestly, the only time i ate endogenous chicken, it was so hard that i almost could not finish it. In Swiss German we call this a "gum eagle" but somehow consumers here prefer it.)

Over the last years, intensive poultry farming has increasingly been taking over the African market. Commercial farming uses improved breeds, namely broilers for meat and layers for the eggs. These improved breeds are very productive. Maturity of a broiler is reached at 5 months and can weigh double than an fully grown endogenous chicken that takes up to 10 months to reach maturity. Also commercial layers can reach up to 300 eggs a year compared with 50 for endogenous chicken. However, these improved breeds are often not an option for smallholders. They need relatively expensive feed, they cannot be fed just on leftovers. They also are very sensitive to illnesses and therefore need expensive medication and vet. Also, they do not match the dual needs (i.e. a chicken for meat and eggs) of smallholders. 
Commercial farming in Kenya (taken from here)
To address the need of smallholders, an improved endogenous chicken, referred to as Kuroiler, has been developed in India, and has recently been introduced at large scale in Uganda. It has the benefits of a endogenous chicken, i.e. illness resistance, ease of feed through agricultural waste, and is dual purpose.  Yet Kuroilers have a much bigger productivity than endogenous chicken, namely give 150 eggs year and can reach 3.5 kg (compared to 2.5 kg of an endogenous chicken) in 6 months (compared to 10 month with endogenous chicken). The only thing i don't know is about the taste. Will it have this funny consistency that Kenyans love so much?
3 weeks Kuroiler chicks
It sounds like a pretty magic chicken that might save Africa :-)! The only turn down of this breed is that it needs vaccines and devorming, but both of them are quite affordable. Also it is smart to feed them on high proteins, i.e. on special chicken feed during the first 3 weeks.
Counting the new arrival of 1 day kuroiler chicks from Uganda
Now you are probably wondering how to get Ugandan chicken in Kenya? My friend went to Uganda to get her starting stock and she will be hatching them herself in the up-coming months. Chicks are sold at 3 weeks. Contact me or her (via the form below) to know when the next batch is ready and to make a reservation so that you can get yours soon!

or check this website

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Lake Baringo : a look on an fish chain

For Easter I discovered lake Baringo and Bogoria, North of Nairobi and the one of the probably pretty underdeveloped fish chains of Kenya.

Lake Baringo is pretty touristic also thanks to its beautiful natural, however due to heavy rain the lake had more water and some of the nice logdes are now standing underwater.

When we stepped into the boat, there were plenty of fish fingerling, and fishermen brought in plenty of quite big mud and cat fish. It seems to be a very healthy lake, and overfishing does not seem a problem.
children fishing
Fisherman, fish on small boats made of very light wood, they look pretty like the ones you can see on Tana lake in Ethiopia.

Then when the fish is brought to land, if is first cut and sun dried for a bit, then it is fried and smoked.
the cut fish : sun drying
smoking the fish
The processing of the fish is mainly a women's work. Maybe that's also why this chain is pretty underdeveloped. Fish leaves the place dried or fried and reaches Nakuru the nearest town but not Nairobi. I am personally not fond of this smoked fried fish, but my Kenyan friends really love it. The processing allows to transport fish without a cold chain, and therefore the fish could reach Nairobi though, the place is 6 hours away. Clearly, campi ya samaki (fish camp) is a place, where if some thoughts are put in, markets could be unlocked to benefit women, who today don't make the money their high value product would be worth...