Headline June23, 2014



What to think  -when you hear that  85%  of Africa's water is used for farming!?

FOR nearly two decades Njoroge Kimani,  a farmer in rural Kenya, irrigated his one-tenth hectare plot the hard way:

With bucket in each hand,  It was backbreaking work. The trip to a nearby well and home again left him exhausted, his arms and legs in pain.

Then, some years ago, Kimani, 62, saw his neighbour  irrigating his crops with an odd contraption that looked like a stripped down exercise machine. The man stood on two pedals and pumped them up and down.

Two pistons connected to the pedals sucked water from a nearby creek amd sent it through a network of pipes and out a spray noozle/

Intrigued Kimani borrowed the pump and tried it out on his own rows of tomatoes, maize and French beans. It worked so well, that a year later, he spent $60 from his meagre savings and bought his own, along with alongwith 36 meters of pipe.

Since then he's expanded his plot to more than half a hectare and hired two employees to work the pump. Now he harvests during not just the rainy seasons but the dry seasons as well and earn twice what he did during the best of the ''bucket years''.

His wife even stopped nagging him about the money he spent to buy it. ''Let's not talk about the 17 years I worked without this pump,'' he says. ''If I look back, it was like having no job at all.''

This most  low-tech  of inventions is the latest is the latest brainchild of two innovation minded social activists, Martin Fisher and Nick Moon. For the past seven years they've been marketing the blue-contraption , called the MoneyMaker-

Through agricultural equipment shops around Kenya and Tanzania. Working through their non-profit company, ApproTec, they aim not only to sell their products but to the ranks of the African middle-class  -through both the entrepreneurs-

Who sell their pumps and the farmers who use it. The pump is only the latest   -and best  -of a string of cheap and cheerful contraptions that they hope will will help reshape the economies  of these  impoverished eastern African nations:

Just as the Internet and other high-tech innovations have reshaped the developed world. ''We define technology in its true sense.'' says Fisher. ''It's the application of science and engineering to produce tools, which in this case are being used to increase the productivity of farmers and help them make money.

ApproTec's products specifically target the problems of modern life in Africa. During the cold war, the United States and the Soviet Union poured aid into friendly developing country governments-

Healthcare, education and commodities like cooking oil were all free or heavily subsidized. When the Soviet union collapsed, the prices of cooking oil and other goods increased threefold, and now the Africans are short of cash for the bare, bare necessities .

Only  14%  of workers in Kenya have a formal job, and half of them are employed by the government. Everyone else is living off the land, and eating most of what they produce.

The only asset most rural Africans have in abundance is their own time and effort. 

The problem with Western Technologies, of course, is that they're usually geared to saving time. The ApproTec founders, both veteran aid workers, realised that somebody needed to develop more appropriate tools.

Fisher, a mechanical engineer who works full time in ApproTec, is a self-described technology wonk who doesn't believe countries can develop without productivity-boosting technology.

After getting his Ph.D. at Stanford, he went to Kenya on a Fullbright scholarship in the mid-1980s. There he met Moon, a British carpenter who speaks fluent Kiswahili and had just sold his business renovating Victorian houses in London. Both worked for the U.K. development agency ActionAid-

Setting up groups of youth or women in businesses based on technologies like roof-tile making machine. When the aid group moved on, the business collapsed. The pair realized local entrepreneurs had to have a personal stake in making the technologies work. In 1991 they formed ApproTec.

The company's first product was a manual seed press, designed to give Africans an alternative to purchasing expensive cooking oil.

Farmers put sunflower seed in one end, cranked the handle, and  cooking oil and a high protein, high-fat compound suitable for animal feed came out the other.

The Honour and Serving of the Post continues. Thanks for reading and don't miss the following one.

With respectful dedication to the Students, Professors and Teachers of Africa. See Ya all on !WOW!   -the World Students Society Computers-Internet-Wireless:

''' Head Shots '''

Good night and God bless!

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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