SANGO Diaries chapter 16. Grateful to be back in Kenya

It’s hard to know where to begin. I have now been back in Kenya for just over a week and it has been quite a whirlwind — a fantastic and inspiring whirlwind. It has been so exciting to see the farmers I came to know so well last year — and to meet new ones.
I have now been to the field several times. Thanks to your generosity, SANGO-Kenya is now providing training and field support to 70 farmers in two villages — 50 more farmers and an additional village compared to when we started.

We have also increased the number of lead farmers to 14, and my first activity was to meet them all. Each of the lead farmers is responsible for providing field support to five farmers — increasing the sustainability and scalability of SANGO-Kenya’s agricultural and nutrition practices, as well as maximizing the support SANGO-Kenya can provide.

On my first day in the villages, I met our 14 lead farmers in the church where they have their training sessions. One by one, each lead farmer stood in front of everyone there, introduced herself, and gave a brief report on the farmers in her group. All of the presentations – and presenters – were impressive. Some even gave the report in English!
I knew rain has been a problem this season, or more specifically, lack of rain — and every lead farmer emphasized just how difficult the drought has been for all of the farmers and how much the crops are struggling.

But even after the reports, I was not prepared for what I saw at some of the farms.
All of the farmers have planted both orange flesh sweet potatoes, a crop we introduced this season, and some of the vegetables they planted the previous season. On some of the farms, even cowpeas, which are generally considered relatively drought resistant, are hardly growing.
According to reports that track rainfall in Kenya, Seme sub-county, where we work, has had significantly less rain this year than last. One of the lead farmers, who records the rainfall using a do-it-yourself rain gauge Dominic helped her make, reported that it has only rained twice in the past two weeks, and neither rain was very significant.

Still, some of the farms are doing well — different soil, slope, somewhat more rain, shade from trees. And despite all of the setbacks, the farmers remain extremely committed. They work hard, are eager to learn more to improve their crops, and share with each other solutions they have found.

We are exploring different options to overcome these challenges with our new board member, Owen Calvert, who has extensive experience in agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa, including Kenya. No single solution will work for all the farmers, but working together we – the farmers, our staff, Owen, Constance and I – are optimistic that we will find ways that will improve the outcomes.
We have no choice.



Your generosity has made all of SANGO-Kenya’s programs possible. Your tax-deductible donation today will help SANGO-Kenya continue to recruit, train, and support more farmers so they can improve their nutrition, food, and economic security for themselves and their families. Please consider making a tax-deductible contribution. Thank you.

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