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Three Surprises
My first field visit was last Tuesday, to the Chola site. Jake (expat staff), Andrew, Moses (Kenyan staff) and I visited five farmers and handed out logbooks for them to record some of what they eat and buy. Limited trial to test the logbook format before we roll it out for real. We left the house before 9 and got back a little after 12.

The first surprise for me about Bungoma wasn't the size, it was the density. The main roads are a constant stream of bikes, trucks, and matatus (overstuffed minibuses.) Shops, markets and restaurants are crowded full. I figured boredom would be a problem, peace and quiet wouldn't. Guess again.

The second surprise came when Jake and I were walking between houses and he mentioned that a lot of our farmers don't do much during the day. I'd have expected people experiencing chronic hunger and the resulting health problems and infant mortality to be working themselves to the bone.

Then I remembered a line from the One Acre reference materials; paraphrased, "our farmers are not used to being rewarded for their effort." They lack capital for quality inputs (seed, fertilizer.) They lack the expertise to plant and harvest most effectively. And it's difficult for them to get their outputs to an interested buyer.

Those three basic things are what we offer to farmers, and are the reason One Acre Fund exists. And here's the third surprise: One Acre is close to sustainability. In fact, at current maize prices - which are, however, unusually high - farmers are paying back enough to cover our operational costs and then some.

Alright, there was a fourth surprise: field work is fun. Visiting farmers is better than frowning at a laptop. Speaking of ...

last timestamped: 09:27:41 21-Sep-2008
in categories:OneAcreFund, People/Me

1 Comment

that sounds like a great beginning, glad to hear it!

posted by Stephanie mail

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