Exploring the Beauty and Challenges of Kenya

If you follow me on Twitter @RSaik or Facebook, you will know that I just got back from Kenya. I went there with two of my friends (Rick and Andrew Wiebe) who have sponsored many wells and schools in Kenya and we were later joined by a group from central Alberta called A Better World (aBetterWorld.ca).

I had three reasons for going.

  1. One, I was looking for a mental vacation and I wanted to see the sites of this amazing area.
  2. Two, I wanted to see how direct Canadian investment in schools, orphanages and clinics was making a difference to some of the poorest people on the planet.
  3. Three, I was curious if I could help. Was there some way that I could make a difference to folks halfway around the world?

The reason I was intrigued by A Better World is 100% of the proceeds of donations targeted to a project go to the project. Currently they work in 14 countries with focus on five areas including Community Development, Infrastructure, Income Generation, Health and, the area I am most interested in, Food Security. Key pillars in helping people there is water, food and education. At most of the schools and orphanages we visited, many of the children attending will not get a single meal per day. It is therefore the goal of A Better World to have a functioning garden attached to each school that will have the primary objective of feeding each child one meal per day with a secondary objective of generating additional income from the sale of produce from the garden to help fund the schools, orphanages and clinics. This got my attention, as it is an area where I believe I can help. I think we can achieve the goals IF we can keep the baboons, elephants and thieves out of the garden. We will work on this and I am looking at helping to sponsor an agronomist who could lead local garden managers who would work the gardens. While there, I met a couple from Sylvan Lake, Dr. Ray and Deryl Comeau. These folks lead a group of Doctors and Dentists who run one to two day clinics across the country. I asked them what they saw in the area of diseases that could be cured by nutrition. They indicated that caloric and protein deprivation were, or course a big problem, but that Vitamin A and Zinc deficiencies were causing big problems amongst the populace.

Now this loops back to my world because if we could get the gardens producing high protein crops and integrate proper nutrient strategies we could improve lives through better diet. While I was there I saw challenges with phosphate so, could we make better use of livestock manure? Soil pH is acidic; since most cook on open flame, could we make better use of wood ash? Could we introduce fertilizer fortification to increase zinc levels? More carrots would help and since most people eat rice, what about technology like Golden Rice that could introduce more beta carotene and alleviate Vitamin A deficiency.

It is so easy for us in North America to criticise our food supply because we have so much. Billions have been spent on GMO technology in Kenya introducing drought tolerance or virus resistance into their crops, yet nothing has been commercialized because government officials have been paralyzed by western anti-science propaganda. I see this as such a shame. While there, I came across a great article in the Kenyan National Daily regarding the dithering over introducing new ag technology which could help the poor, I thought it captured what I am trying to convey.

“Sanctimoniousness is only a privilege of the stated rich and is dangerous for the starving poor.” These people need to be fed so they can live healthy lives that contribute to humanity; living daily in poverty leads only to higher birth rates exacerbating the problem. There is much we can do to teach and to help. It was a great trip and I am looking forward to putting some programs in place that can make a difference one school at a time. If you would like to help me fund some of these agricultural projects you can reach out to me at RSaik@AGRI-TREND.com.

http://www.theagadvance.com/issues/dec-2013/exploring-the-beauty-and-challenges-of-kenya.aspx

Robert Saik

Saik is the founder and CEO of Agri-Trend Inc., a Canadian agricultural coaching network that includes agronomic, grain marketing, business, technology, carbon offset and land management services. He holds a BSc in Agriculture from the University of Alberta, is a Professional Agrologist and Certified Agricultural Consultant.

He owned and operated a farm in northeastern Alberta, founded and subsequently sold two fertilizer companies, and is currently a partner in a Calgary marketing and design firm. Saik an active professional speaker, entertaining and educating audiences around the world on strategic business planning, technology integration and social media in agriculture.