Who is CSHEP and what do we do?
Our project «CSHEP» is located in Kiserian, about 25km southwest of Nairobi, where we work as a market place for organically grown vegetables as well as a learning center for our community. CSHEP stands for «Community Sustainable Agriculture and Healthy Environmental Program». In a nutshell, we connect smallholder farmers, who are keen on farming their land sustainably, with consumers, who desire healthy and safe food. Already since early 2014, we have been dedicated to improving our environment and helping our community grow stronger. Esther Kiruthi and Steven Kamau are the project leaders in Kenya, while Silke, Caro and Lucas act as their partners in Germany.
We regularly organize intensive trainings and workshops at our CSHEP demofarm in Kiserian. Our overall goal is to educate smallholders in sustainable horticultural methods. These include for example methods like water efficient vegetable gardening, biological pest control all the way to direct marketing of their produce. As the farmers who come to us typically have a dire income situation, they are only asked to pay a small fee for receiving our trainings. Furthermore, we also organize the sale of our own produce, and that grown by our partner farmers, at local market as well as directly at farmgate from the CSHEP farm.
Farming in Kenya
Kenya counts as one of the growing nations in East Africa and was recently re-labeled from a «developing country» to a so-called «low-to-middle income country». Despite this, the country still faces considerable social, ecological and economic challenges. About 75% of the local population is dependent on earning a living from farming, which makes it a very important sector for the economy. Actually, a lot of us have possibly already come across agricultural products from Kenya like coffee, tea, green beans or fresh roses. Regardless of success in exporting such products, the large majority of Kenyan farming is quite different to how it is typically done in the Western world. For example, most of the food for the local market is produced by smallholder farmers, who only have few resources to bank on. In rural areas a daily earning of less than 2 Euros is pretty common. Next to this the local climate is dictated by starkly contrasting dry and wet seasons. As a result of climate change, these have been becoming even more erratic, often causing crop failures.
So why «Healthy Farms for Kenya»?
A rise in population growth and urban sprawl have been creating an increased demand for food supplies, in turn putting more pressure on local farming to satisfy the demand. This in combination with the onerous farming conditions as well as a neglected infrastructure is not only taking a toll on smallholder farmers, but also on local consumers. They come to CSHEP, because they are concerned about the quality and food safety of fresh produce being offered at the local markets. At CSHEP they find peace of mind, that the vegetables they are buying are «clean» and safe to eat. In contrast to the products grown for export, the local produce is not subject to such strict quality controls. Especially in urban areas, there is a growing problem that for the sake of having some sort of fertilizer, vegetables are grown near unmanaged waste water flows or due to a lack of space along busy roads. From this arises a problem of contamination with heavy metals, harmful germs and other toxic residues. Furthermore, smallholders already having to struggle with harsh climate conditions for example in the hope of a quick fix leads to inappropriate application or overuse of pesticides. All in all, crop failures are nothing rare for local smallholders. Therefore, farmers come to us in search of innovative solutions to deal with the scarce natural resources at hand.
Innovations for Kenyan smallholder farmers
Many innovative but at the same time low-cost farming methods are trialed at our farm. Examples include mulching, composting, micro-irrigation strategies, integration of crop trees on the farm (agroforestry), etc. In fact irrigation is gaining more and more importance in helping guarantee enough food can be produced in our region. Kenyan smallholders don’t only need sustainable, but also affordable methods to effectively manage the small amount of water available to them. We have developed a close cooperation across Germany and Kenya, for example in 2015/2016 Lucas stayed in Kenya for several months and worked with CSHEP. While there he dedicated himself to introducing sustainable water management strategies. At CSHEP he helped out with installing a micro-irrigation system on the demo farm. The cost efficiency of this system makes it especially relevant and attainable for our local farmers. In fact the system can be single-handedly built from easily found scrap or recycled materials. Already three smallholders from the area, after having seen it at CSHEP, have adopted this system on their farms.
Why do we need your support?
An investment in our water supply has become direly needed in order to guarantee CSHEP can remain productive throughout the entire year. We already store as much rainwater as possible in order to get us through the dry season allowing us to continue growing produce. Currently, when a harsh dry spell hits we are forced to externally buy water, which is delivered by donkey. Unfortunately, this is proving to be uneconomical in the long-run. Despite our efforts to farm as water efficient as possible, it has become necessary for us to invest in a connection to the community water supply.
The requested 6000 € are comprised of the following:
- Purchase of water meter, storage tank : 750 EUR
- Construction and installation of piping and storage tank: 1600 EUR
- Labor costs: 150 EUR
- Employee remuneration for workshops and training on sustainable water management (20 x per month during 1 year): 2400 EUR
- Repair of already existing cistern: 700 EUR
- Transportation costs during 2017 for farm visits to partner-smallholders: 400 EUR
Why support us?
- You are giving a locally organized initiative the chance to secure their yields. This will help safeguard our existence as a community-based organization, thus allowing for people from our community to continue having a supplier of sustainably farmed produce.
- You are supporting a project, which is dedicated to achieving and safeguarding food security, biodiversity and an eco-friendly production system. This type of farming is still rare in Kenya, but is truly enjoying growing interest and demand.
- You are investing in securing qualified job positions of our CSHEP colleagues. And these are so direly needed in Kenya!
What can you get in return?
As we are specialized in fresh local vegetables, it will prove to be a bit problematic for us to ship our products from our farm to so far abroad :-) Nevertheless, we have come up with some alternative product and service ideas that might be fun to purchase! Of course any contribution unrelated to a reward is welcome. In general, after we have achieved our funding goal, all supporters will receive updates on our progress.