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Electronic Agriculture in Kenya’s Arid and Semi–Arid Lands (ASAL) Schools.


The E-Agriculture methodology seeks to produce agricultural products including crops and livestock in Kenya’s ASAL Schools as a source of learning, food security and agri-business.



This idea won a prize in the 2009 Africa Rural Connect Competition and therefore cannot compete in any subsequent ARC competitions.

(1.0) Introduction

Sustainable Environment and Agriculture Network (Seanet) International is a Kenyan registered NGO. Our vision is a continent without poverty and hunger.  Our mission is to work with others who subscribe to this vision.

 SEANET is a valued partner of One Dollar For Life (www, a Silicon Valley(USA) high schools - based students' organization that collects just one dollar per student per year in order to build small-scale infrastructure projects in the developing world. In three short years ODFL has touched many lives through many projects and connectivity in many countries including Kenya, Nepal, Malawi, Indonesia, Nicaragua, China and El Salvador. This is in addition to  thousands of students within America herself, who have benefited in different ways.

 ODFL and SEANET larger task is to change the world through the 4 C's philosophy of compassion, connection, cooperation and competence.  The partnership has already completed many projects in Kenya's ASAL schools and children orphanages. Projects include classroom construction, dairy cows, school calculators, soccer balls, sports shoes, and bicycles to pupils and students who travel long distances to and from schools each day.         

 The E-Agriculture innovation proposal is as a result of SEANET's over four years close working relationship with teachers, students and parents while implementing projects in these ASAL Schools. 

 It is the huge food and water need for these schools and their surroundings that prompted this writer to think of a different way of doing things in order to improve this sorry situation.

 (2.0)  The  E-Agriculture Project Context

Many organizations, government and nonprofits, have attempted to approach the food problem in these schools individually.  In the process they have left these institutions confused, as different organizations objectives sometimes conflict and at others work at cross-purposes.

 A more encompassing and coordinated approach is therefore necessary, a -one-stop-shop, where many actors can work together synergistically.

 (3.0)       The Food Needs (Gaps) in the schools.

 The ASAL schools, especially the day secondary ones, are attended by students from poor family backgrounds.  There are a lot of challenges facing these schools e.g.:-

  1. The meals served are usually inadequate and unbalanced and consist of maize and beans only.
  2. Hunger and poverty continues to bite throughout the year and therefore institutional operations and development are badly hampered.
  3. There is lack of coordinated ASAL programmes and so realization of food security is not possible. Specific aspects of uncoordinated activities include the following:

a) Food production activities are not well organized

b) Agro-forestry and conservation agriculture are not promoted and so we have barren school grounds and fields.

c) Agribusiness is not adopted or considered as a profitable enterprise and gainful employment.

c) Rain harvesting technologies are not implemented despite the presence of thousands of squire miles of roof catchments

d) Drip irrigation and green houses -even simple and cheap ones- not used or introduced in the school farms

      e) Lack of simple environment - friendly technology e.g. bicycle/donkey carts to ferry inputs (e.g. water) and farm products.

f) Lack of a forum and network where schools stakeholders can share challenges and solution to their situation.

g) Emergence into the scene of internet and social networks as "shadow" schools. Information streaming from these sites has inundated many a student's life and the naïve, vulnerable and gullible youth is at a loss. The student has now to juggle the heavy tasks of school home work and the ever increasing mail load in her / his email inbox.

All this is happening with total ignorance of teachers and parents.  A recent enquiry from teachers and parents indicated that only about 1% of those interviewed knew of this added workload.  One student confessed that she had 220 electronic friends.  A quick look at her email inbox showed that there were 480 mails that needed urgent attention

 (4.0)        Addressing of identified challenges / gaps in the value chains

The challenges/gaps in the value chain will be addressed as follows:-

  • Actors work is disjointed with sometimes conflicting objectives - This will be addressed by analyzing actor-actor linkages using SWOT and AKIS ( Actors Knowledge and Information Systems) tools.
  •  Most of the schools land is barren - This will be addressed by planting crops and agro-forestry trees.
  •  Roofs of the school buildings collect water that goes to waste - All the roofs will be fitted with gutters and all the water directed to reservoirs.
  • Lack of simple green houses and drip irrigation systems in schools - This will be addressed by introduction of the two technologies.
  •  Lack of green transport e.g. bicycle that is very attractive to students - This technology is very popular with students. SEANET has already distributed 345 bikes to 9 secondary, 5 primary and 6 children orphanages. The popularity of this project is amazing. Bikes will therefore be part of the project.
  •  Lack of I.T in management and dissemination of information on issues affecting schools and their external environment - Introduction of computers and E - learning centers and connection to websites to get skills and technologies for enhanced agriculture.

 (5.0)        Expected Outputs and Benefits

             We expect these schools to play their maximum role in meeting part of the high food demand within them and also their neighbors and also benefit from:

  •  Synergy from their key actors
  • Agro forestry trees
  •  Water reservoirs
  • Drip irrigation and green houses
  •  Fleets of bikes
  •  I.T connection
  •  Well implemented chains management system.

Expected Benefits

A mammoth of benefits to all the actors and the environment are expected viz:

  • There will be more food income 
  • The neighbors will access more food and knowledge
  • There will be more understanding amongst actors leading to more efficient projects
  •  There will be increased tree cover in schools
  •  There will be more clean water for the students to drink
  • There will be less idleness with the students as they will be riding and participating in the new project and racing sports
  •  Computer literacy will increase
  •  There will be more knowledge to teachers and parents about social networks so as to be able to counsel their children. (It is estimated that only less than 1% of Kenya's teachers and even less parents know about the new social network phenomenon which is leading to a lot of addiction and is interfering negatively with school performance of the students).

 There is a chance of embracing the chains management system in schools.

 (6.0)        Target Groups and partnering.

  •  Principals, teachers and farm workers: These are the main beneficiaries of the project and will be involved in E-Agriculture learning, farm activities and shared discussions, and introduction of the new technology.
  •  Students will receive training on new agricultural methods as well as benefits from E-learning
  •  School boards will be involved in policy direction while the parents/teachers Associations will assist in contribution of labor in the farm
  •  Education, agriculture and NGO officials will conduct and train students at school sites and district events.

 (7.0)      Marketing Strategy and Scaling Up

The E-Agriculture in schools is envisaged to spread fast thereby reaching many ASAL schools and others like collaborators, the agriculture sector, parents etc.  The innovation is also expected to spread quickly to other schools in Kenya and the developing world and growth is expected to be exponential.

1.   Situation Analysis -We shall start by doing a SWOT and an AKIS analysis for the schools in the context of the identified problems of hunger and poverty in the schools and their surroundings. In this way we shall have the details of the schools internal strengths and weaknesses as well as opportunities and challenges exerted by the external environment /actors.

2. The service and products we shall offer our target market and group will include:-

         a) Agro-forestry

         b) Water harvesting

         c) Green house / drip irrigation technology

         d) Green bicycles

       e) Information technology and chain management system.

 (8.0)       Conclusion

We believe that if and when these activities are operationalized, part of the very high food demand in the ASAL market will be realized. 

Yours in a Better World.

Macheru Karuku

P.O Box 189 - 10400

Nanyuki, KENYA

Email - [email protected]

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