March has been a tough month, trying to come up with strategies of carrying out activities in the midst of Covid-19 pandemic. We were able to carry out all the activities as planned until March 15th, when the President of Kenya banned all public gatherings and requested Kenyans to minimize movement from one geographical area to another in an effort to fight Covid-19. We had to make decisions on what to do and what not to do.
- We had to suspend an internship that we started February 23, 2020 with Sheila Cheptoo, from the Molo region, she has a Bachelor’s Degree of Science in Agricultural Economics. Her main responsibility is to work with Starlight team in mobilization of new farmers to join Starlight under National Agricultural and Rural Inclusive Growth Project (NARIGP).
- At the farm level, we hired machinery for farm preparation. We were planning to hire machinery for planting in an effort to minimize human interaction, but the company with machinery for potato planting is in Nairobi and Nairobi borders are locked down. Instead, we will use 10 casual workers to ensure social distancing when planting, provide masks and put all hygiene and health measures in place.
- We have been able to continue with the activities which maintain minimal human interaction like milk collection activities, input store supplies and some farming activities.
Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic:
- Starlight marketed 451 seed potato bags harvested by 3 farmers providing the co-operative a commission of Kshs 90,200.
- We were working toward the involvement of individual farmers on increasing seed potato production at the co-operative level and enhancing income generation for the farmers.
- John Wanyoko, a Starlight farmer who is a retired soil fertility researcher has been working on improvising seed potato sorting kit using wire mesh and wood. The kit was used for sorting seeds he had harvested and areas to be improved identified. This will go a long way in enhancing effectiveness in sorting of seeds and reducing cost of sorting incurred when using human labor.
- Sigowet self-help group was visited. The objective of the visit was a follow-up on the progress of the group activities. The group members are involved in able banking and potato production.
- Nakuru County Dairy Co-operative Union (NCDCU): The management team of the union has been working on negotiating milk prices on behalf of farmers with different processors.
- Nakuru Potatoes Co-operative Union (NPCU): The management team of the union is working on establishment of cold storage for potatoes.
Njoriwa self-help group members with Sheila (Starlight student intern)
Mobilization planning meeting between Starlight leaders and the various government officers