Success Stories: Macheru Karuka and Electronic Agriculture in Kenyan Schools
The founder of SEANET International and a host of other organizations such as The Wheels of Wonder Bicycling Club, Savannah Savings and Credit Cooperative, and Rongai River Water Users Association, Macheru Karuka is a Kenyan innovator that won first place in the third round of Africa Rural Connect's 2009 contest. His winning idea was to use electronic agriculture to improve the lives of school children in arid and semi-arid regions of Kenya. It has been 2 years since the E-Agriculture Project at Gakawa Secondary School in Kenya has launched, and Macheru is very pleased with the results that have followed.
The E-Gardens have been incredibly successful for Macheru, and through word-of-mouth and through the medium of the internet, most notably the Africa Rural Connect platform, the success has spread faster and further than he had ever thought possible. The gardens provide water harvesting, micro-livestock, green houses and drip irrigation systems, tree and flower nurseries, botanical gardens, cottage food industries, business administration, renewable energy, and ICT services to Gakawa Secondary School. Set up next to the school, the E-Gardens collect rainwater and energy to power computers through solar and wind power. Students produce tomato sauce, rabbit and chicken sausages, yogurt, butter, and rabbit and chicken cutlets, as well as learn computer and business skills which they teach other students and their parents.
In providing food, resources, and training to school children, the model originally posted on Africa Rural Connect has been very successful and has been adopted in both South Sudan and Tanzania. 4,030 children are benefitting directly from the project initiatives and are passing on their skills and education to others. Since the adoption of the program, many people, including school and government officials, farmers, and even visitors from Taiwan, have visited to see the results firsthand. On the Gakawa Secondary School's E-garden's opening day, governmental officials from the departments of agriculture, education, water, livestock, and such came by. These officials were not only impressed by the current progress of the E-Gardens, but also by their potential for future success. While Macheru has been very impressed by the progress and capabilities of the internet to spread the message of the project, he says,
“That there are hundreds of thousands of schools in Africa, with hundreds of thousands of acres of roof catchments, and millions of cubic meters of rain water lost whenever it rains. There are also millions of hungry, thirsty, and malnourished children in these schools and the surroundings. Intra and inter country water conflicts are also increasing. To survive, many people rely on poaching and deforestation, with the resultant land degradation and desertification. It is my contention that an Africa-wide E-Gardens movement can sustainably reduce this gap.”
Macheru's 20-year plan is to expand the program to cover 10% of Kenyan’s schools and farming groups and 2% of all of Africa’s schools and farming groups.
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