Most of the regions in Africa are prone to draught every other year with severe consequences and loss of lives for both animals and people. In Kenya most areas in the arid and semi-arid zones receive low rainfall most of the year and as a result most of the rivers are dry. TVT has been working with village groups in their fight against hunger and extreme poverty. All Village groups are keen on practicing green house farming as one of the income generating projects but the main set back is lack of water. TVT has been soliciting for support from donors to provide underground water through drilling of bole hole. The water is used for both human consumption and green house farming.
Fight against hunger will be won if farmers are empowered to practice alternative methods of farming that do not rely on rain water. TVT has therefore been promoting use of different farming methods through the village groups in order to promote grass-root participation and use of local resources. One of the strategies TVT is employing to empower village groups is Greenhouse farming technology in order to promote sustainable livelihood among small and marginal families. TVT personnel have been trained are readily available to provide the technical, managerial and marketing support to the women groups. Growing of vegetables that are of high quality, under a naturally ventilated greenhouse, has so far been a success.
Green house farming requires a lot of water which is not available in the focal areas of TVT operations, namely Meru North and Salgaa in Nakuru. TVT therefore supports village groups by drilling underground water and pumping it to irrigate the green house crops. Drilling boreholes in semi arid areas is quite expensive and this is one of the reasons that greenhouse farming has not taken off as initially anticipated. However, efforts are on going to solicit more support so as to sink a few more water boreholes to facilitate greenhouse farming for many more village groups.
With adequate water supply, green house farming has the potential of producing over 50% profit margin when farmers are fully trained. TVT Farmer's Kit is an all-inclusive farmer’s kit designed to cover only 1/8th of an acre. The kit comes with a gravity based drip irrigation system covering the entire area (i.e. 500 square meters) and a Greenhouse covering 120 square meters, leaving 380 square meters for open field drip irrigation. There are two types of seeds - one for greenhouse use and the other for outside use - based on what grows well in a particular locality and has a good market. The kit also includes fertilizers, agro-chemicals, protective gear, a 600 litre collapsible water tank, a 16 litre knapsack sprayer and a training manual. The cost of one TVT farmer’s kit is Kshs.150, 000 (US Dollars 2,000) including the cost of training and installation. To see more on the types of crops TVT is supporting through greenhouse project, visit the photo gallery on this site.
The first green house project for the TVT Village groups is focused on growing tomatoes. Pictures provided in this site show the various stages of crop development using the green house technology. Thanks to doctors and friends of Südtiroler Ärzte für die Dritte Welt onlus who provided the funding to buy the green house kit for this project. Südtiroler Ärzte für die Dritte Welt onlus - or Medici dell'Alto Adige per il Terzo Mondo onlus in italian - also contributed to revolving fund used to give loans to the women groups as a way in empowering the women to take charge of their own lives. Two other greenhouses have been provided by Nappanee Missionary Church, in Indiana to Kitheo women and Salgaa women groups. The two women groups have had their lives changed by the income they are getting from the greenhouse produce. Efforts are ongoing to raise more funds for other women groups.
Both women and youth groups have been encouraged to save whatever they can on a regular basis with TVT in order to enable them to benefit from the TVT revolving fund, which doubles savings of each group to enable them to undertake a viable income generating projects. Due to the high demand for funds by over 70 women and 20 youth groups, revolving fund of TVT has not been adequate to cover all groups. Support is therefore being given in phases. Funds to the revolving funds have been raised through the-adopt-a-village initiative. The initiative has been well received even by organizations, individuals and college students of Bethel College in Indiana, USA, who have gone out their way to support women groups to do businesses and be able to support their families. If you would want to support either the TVT green house initiative use the link below.