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KEN07a - DOVE Africa - Eshel Garden: Partnership Reports

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Report Date: July 28, 2017

Report by BHW's Agricultural Director Following Visit


Recent Events

Jesse Kilel

Jesse is now engaged and plans to marry on 5/5/2018. He is overseeing the work at Eshel Gardens since Francis Ogembo moved to Got Osimbo. He is involved in looking after the hot houses, vegetable growing, fish farming, chickens, rabbits etc. The old fishponds have gone and new ones developed for catfish. Catfish are supposedly able to grow to 2kg in six months. The chickens are now allowed to roam outdoors and are doing much better. Jesse is also involved in Foundations for Farming training in other places in Kenya. He expressed his thankfulness toward BHW and loves doing the trainings.

A neighbour called Morris who was trained here in the past is one of very few from around here still selling vegetables even now in the drought. He told Jesse it was all because of the ”medicine” of Foundations for Farming. Jesse just has not been able to get him to come to church yet.

Last year Francis and Jesse trained over 200 people at Marmanet in conjunction with the Kijani project (KEN09). Jesse has been back there for follow up. 


Jesse has been active in the Tala/Nguluni area. In December 2016 he revisited and saw the fields of some of the trainees. It was evident that the methods had been implemented, at least by some, but the drought ended up too severe and previously good looking crops were still lost. Jesse did a 1-day retrain here in February 2017. In Chekoyo village he has been involved with planting ½ acre of maize with some of the villagers using the methods. In Isooni village he spoke at the church and ended up doing a 2-day training for 15 people. At the practical demonstration just about the whole village turned up and Jesse had to call it a day when it got dark. People kept asking questions. He has decided to establish a demo plot in the pastor’s garden here. He is still communicating with David Muli (who came to the training Jesse, John and Hayley did in Nguluni) to train in his village, two hours north-east from Nguluni, and potentially even take it out to David’s circle of churches as far away as Mombasa and Masaai land. 


Francis and Jesse trained 10 people in this area in March 2017. Planting had already happened so he wants to go back before the next planting. A lady called Salome was one of Jesse’s first trainees and is practising the methods very well. She has shown many other women and it seems to be getting well established here. Jesse has visited and helped plant maize for Salome. Since he keeps getting requests for training from here he hopes to go there to train sometime after the elections (8/8/17).

Francis Ogembo 

Francis is now based in Got Osimbo, while his family is still in Nairobi. He travels back around twice a month. He is training people around that area and is working on a demonstration plot. He also does some Foundations for Farming work with Jesse in Kisii.

He seems to be getting traction in that community. He told the story of a woman named Monica who farms some land with her daughter. She got interested seeing the mulch and its effect on Francis’ field. He helped her grow a 20 by 20m plot of maize. Most plants got two cobs and she harvested a 90kg sack from this. Since it has been such a dry year many in the community took notice and are now asking to be trained.

There are a few real issues here for people to follow the Foundations for Farming methods. One is that people can’t plant before the father of the family does. So if he has not got his field ready the rest have to wait. That does not go with our motto “On Time”. A similar issue is that they don’t want to plant until the pastor blesses the seed but he is not always around or available. Francis is trying to address this by getting people to buy seed early and get the pastor to bless it all in one go. The other issue is poverty. Many people struggle to pay for seed etc. and so often end up planting late. To overcome this Francis would like to establish a revolving fund. This would entail giving people 2kg seed, 10kg DAP and 10kg CAN (or Urea), costing KES500, 750 and 750, at the start of the growing season. This would come to KES2,000 per trainee involved. They would then pay back after harvest. He would like to start this small with 10 trainees so the total start-up cost would be KES20,000 which is about US$200.

After discussing this with a member of the BHW Executive, it was decided to use some Foundations for Farming money and trial this as a pilot scheme. It is good to note here that Francis and Jesse often get asked for things since so many other organisation use hand-outs to attract people to their projects. The One Acre Fund is one that gets mentioned a bit. One thing Francis thinks would be helpful would be some printed T-shirts with the BHW and Foundation for Farming logos on them to promote what he does. 


Ideas for the Future


Gabriel and Grace Abanga (Grace attended the training in Nguluni) now live in Nairobi but are working 90 minutes out of Kisumu towards Bondo and are keen for training to happen there. Jesse expressed some frustration about communication though. There are some others from Kisumu that have asked for training as well so Jesse hopes to go there in September. He is also planning to go to Mbeere to follow up on requests for training.

Jesse is also keen to connect again with Jude to see if he could do more training in the prison we did a training in some years ago. The contact was made through Jude then and I have emailed Jude to see if we can make this work.



Overall it seems that Jesse has picked up the pace and is enthusiastic about Foundations for Farming. He commented that trainings go much better with two trainers, which is also my experience. This may require some more funding to allow Francis to join him more often although they did not ask for that.