Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Crawfish Trap Pt1.


Last summer I decided I wanted to try my hand at catching crawfish.
Now when I was a kid I remember my brothers and I snagging these elusive little buggers, one by one out of the lake, with our make-shift fishing poles (which we cleverly made out of sticks and old, used fishing line found on the banks of the lake).  With worm-baited hooks we’d all patiently wait, watching as these skittish little creatures would slowly crawl out of their rocky, underwater hideaways, and make their way over to the delicious worm dinner that was on offer.  As soon as the crawfish grabbed that fat worm with their claw we would pull the line up and BOOM, he was caught!  It was all a fun catch-and-release game that we played and had hours of entertainment doing it 
This time I wanted to make a trap to see how many I could catch.  Surprisingly, it was pretty easy and inexpensive to make!
§  A 2ft x 3 1/2ft sheet of chicken wire (use the type with 1/2in x 1/2in square holes)
1.    Two rubber bands
2.    Small chain about 6in in length (used to make handle for carrying trap and also for hooks to close trap door)
3.    Package of zip ties
4.    Strong string or rope (to retrieve trap from water)
5.    Plastic water bottle (to serve as a ‘bobber’ for locating traps)
6.    4in piece of wire (for securing water bottle to rope)


§  Wire cutters
§  Needle nose pliers

I started by cutting out a piece of chicken wire that was 48 squares x 43 squares in size

I rolled it up lengthwise to make a cylinder

…and zip tied it together

…making sure to cut the ends of the zip ties off

I then cut 2 more pieces of chicken wire that were 21 squares x 21 squares in size.  These were to be the end pieces of the cylinder.  Each piece would be shaped into ‘cones’

To shape each piece into a cone, I marked an X with a marker to find the center

…then cut one corner up to the center
(Continued Pt2)

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Innovation is Running the Agribusiness Industry in Kenya

Farming in Kenya is no longer a preserve of the poor subsistence farmer in the rural set-up. Young people have turned to agriculture as a way of earning an income. In the past, food production has been limited to producing just enough to feed the family and maybe selling the surplus to raise school fees for the children. The young people in Kenya, on the other hand, are taking farming as a business. Reducing production costs, getting high returns, and solving issues to do with reaching the marketplace on time are on top of their list. Many graduates are snubbing formal employment to try their hand at farming, and many are reaping the fruits of their labor and smiling all the way to the bank.

As you can imagine, innovation has taken center stage to cater to these budding entrepreneurs. No longer is land just being marketed as land. Players in the real estate sector have come up with products tailor-made to attract the youth. Most of the land being sold in the country is coming with the option of having a greenhouse set up and managed such that you get additional income even as you plan your next move. You, therefore, earn from farming without worrying about your purchased land lying idle as you plan your finances.

Banking Innovation
Banks have not been left behind. In the past five years, almost all banks in the country have come up with a banking product targeted at the young farmers.  Agricultural loans are now a normal feature in the banking industry yet it was unheard of before. But what would you do as a bank if more and more young people are walking into your banking halls asking for agricultural loans? After turning away these youthful farmers for years, the banking sector had to tow the line since they were losing money. A banking product for these youth had to be created since they lost most of them to saccos that were willing to fund their agricultural ventures.

Insurance Innovation
Do you know that for the longest time no insurance company offered insurance products to serve Kenyan farmers and this resulted in massive losses for the farmer in case of droughts and floods? The young, educated farmer demanded insurance for their crops and animals just like any other business. Insurance firms had to listen since the amount of money flowing in the agricultural sector could no longer be ignored. 

Technology for Agriculture
Technology has not been left behind either. Apps for marketing agricultural produce and linking farmers with information on the weather and other such factors are now available on the phone. Farmers now have access to crucial information that could affect their farming ventures. They are also able to eliminate middlemen and reach the market directly which earns them more returns. Apart from individual apps, social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and the likes are being utilized by the Kenyan farmer to reach their markets not only within Kenya but across the globe.

Investing in agriculture in Kenya right now is a great move. There are risks involved just as in all other businesses, but agribusiness has never been this vibrant in the country before. The government has even stepped in to encourage the private sector to invest more in the agricultural sector.

Agricultural Trends You Should Pay Attention To

For the longest time, the world did not pay as much attention to the population growth until things got out of hand, All of a sudden, we did not have enough food to feed the global population properly. This has however changed, and more attention is being paid to even the smallest of changes. As such, new trends are being observed daily in response to these changes.

Increase in Food Demand
The world’s population is expected to reach 9 billion people by 2050. This phenomenon changes the agricultural landscape altogether given that the world’s land under agriculture has not been increasing. Farmers, therefore, have to look for innovative ways to increase production otherwise severe food shortages will be witnessed in future years. Production agriculture will definitely drive the growth of all other sectors because, without food, living beings are nothing.

Adoption of Technology
No industry has been left behind in the technology age, and agriculture is no different. Given that the world’s population is expected to hit the 9 billion mark soon, it is imperative to come up with new technologies that will push up food production and reduce wastage between the farm and the final consumer. The world is currently looking at ways of ensuring that no food is lost due to poor post-harvest farming practices. Automation is also playing into the technological aspect since it allows for farming to be done faster and more efficiently compared to what can be done by sheer human resources. Agricultural robots, better known as agbots, are slowly being integrated into plowing, harvesting, packaging, and other farming activities.

Vertical Farming
As already mentioned, the world is looking for ways of boosting agricultural production, and this is one of the ways that has been identified as a solution to the ever decreasing amount of land under agriculture. Skyscraper farms could soon replace farming as we know it, especially in urban areas. Skyscrapers could be solely set aside for plant or animal farming practices. Vertical farming also offers a unique opportunity for urban cities to be autonomous in food production.

Changes in Consumer Tastes
People are currently looking for more organic agricultural produce which is shifting attention from what has been grown in the past. Additionally, diversification in consumer tastes from traditional food sources such as corn is seeing farmers experiment with other agricultural produce. Consumers are demanding a delicate balance between fresh vs. processed foods, global vs. local foods, and healthy vs. indulgent foods. This is an interesting trend to pay attention to since it will drive which path food production is going to take.
Data Management
Data is being collected in every sector. In the agricultural industry, the crux of the matter is interpreting this data in such a way that it is useful to the farmer on the ground. Translating this data into better economic gains for farmers will influence how innovative farmers will be in meeting increased demand for food.
Generational Change

The current farmer is typically above 55 years old, but farming has to continue into the future. Young people are taking over farming, and their exposure to more education and technology is influencing farming systems. This new generation of farmers is setting the pace for changes in farming as they push for the integration of new science and technology in the traditional family farm.