When Jane Mbiriri’s granddaughter was diagnosed with acute malnutrition six months ago, she had limited knowhow on the best remedy for the condition and only wallowed in self-pity in her humble house located in rural central Kenya.
The 62-year-old farmer was at wit’s end having no stable source of income to afford a balanced diet for the granddaughter as recommended by the physician. Mbiriri is currently raising three of her grandchildren following the demise of her only daughter one year ago.
However, her search for an affordable and sustainable source of protein for her granddaughter led her into discovering cricket flour which, as she puts it, got her granddaughter’s growth curve back on track. Scientists have in the past cited crickets as a great source of protein compared to soya beans and beef, which are among the conventional sources of proteins.
In Mbiriri’s case, the insects, which are slowly finding their way into Kenyan recipes, have proved their worth. “At first when a friend recommended cricket flour and promised to get me some from her source in western Kenya, I almost turned down the offer since I had never heard of it,” Mbiriri told Xinhua. “But my options were limited. My dairy cows do not earn me enough to afford the kind of food these children are supposed to eat.”
She has since embraced cricket flour, which has immensely improved her granddaughter’s health, and is contemplating on rearing the insects herself. “In our last visit to the doctor one month ago, I was very happy with the results as my grandchild has now gained weight unlike previous visits,” Mbiriri said. “The cricket flour is not as expensive as other flours and now that I have established a relationship with the supplier, I get discounts from time to time,” she said.
Initially she bought the cricket flour from a farmer in western Kenya but she has now established a new source not far from her home, where cricket farming is gaining traction.
“I also plan to venture into cricket farming, which from what I see is paying more even than dairy farming as the crickets are not capital intensive,” Mbiriri said.
She belongs to a growing army of small holder farmers who have gradually embraced cricket farming.
Joseph Kairu took up cricket farming recently. The cost of establishing a basic system is about Ksh3,096 (US$30), in addition to the cost of the initial breeding colony of crickets.
To start such a colony, at least 200 crickets are required, and the colony should not be used for feeding until well established and the first babies mature into adults.
Kairu, who has a bachelor’s degree in nutrition, saw a rising demand for cricket flour as an alternative source of protein for people residing in rural areas. “I come across so many cases of malnourished children. I realized there is a need for alternative sources of protein after a recent assignment in Turkana, where for every 10 babies that I attended to, more than seven suffered from high protein-energy malnutrition,” Kairu told Xinhua.
Even though most Kenyans are still debating on whether to embrace alternative eating habits, there are those like Mbiriri and Kairu doing it and seeing the results. “There is a group of women in western Kenya who are already earning huge income from cricket farming and that is where I got some of the tips on cricket rearing,” Kairu said.
Members of the group, made of 20 farmers, rear crickets each on their own but market their products collectively.
One of their clients is a leading hotel in Kisumu. “This is where I came across the different ways in which the crickets can be prepared,” Kairu said.
According to Kairu, a kilogramme of crickets can sell for approximately Ksh516. “We are still far from embracing such alternative sources of vital nutrients, but with proper marketing and heath campaigns, I believe Kenyans will respond positively,” said Kairu.
Kenya turns into a beggars’ paradise
Statistics show that the percentage of beggars in Kenya has risen from 6 to 12.5 in the past five years
Kenya is ranked the most generous country in Africa as most Kenyans have no problem sharing their meager resources with other Kenyans thus the coined the Harambee adage.
The country’s generosity, research indicate, has been growing in time making beggars’ rate to rise significantly. Statistics show that the percentage of beggars in Kenya has risen from 6 to 12.5 in the past five years. Beggars coming from as far as Rwanda and Tanzania have found refuge in Kenya considering the generosity of the Kenyan people.
Our immediate neighbours from Tanzania have contributed 4% of the new beggars in the country’s cities and towns.
In Thika, for instance, there are over 100 beggars spread across the various corridors and markets within the town and it is surprising that most of the beggars are not residents of the town.
Early in the morning, beggars are ferried by car, motorbike or tuktuk to their respective slots by enthusiastic handlers who pick them promptly in the evening after a day’s collection.
Pablo Musioka, a street beggar who hails from Tanzania, has been on Kenyan soil for the last seven years where he has been getting his bread and donations from well-wishers.
He has a wheel chair that was donated to him by a Kenyan well-wisher and this was the greatest achievement for him as he can move around more easily.
“I never went to school because my mother was poor and a single parent. At first she was ashamed of me and she would leave me locked up in the house when she went out to fend for us. We lived in the interior parts of Makena after we left our home country until I was introduced to the streets to beg,” said Musioka.
Beggars, who are mostly led to the streets by family members or fellow beggars, sometimes have no other alternative than stretching out their hands for well-wishers help.
Musioka and his mother came in search for job in Thika town and this was how he was initiated to the street as a beggar. He has been on Thika streets for seven years now with his mother who ferries him daily to go and beg.
“My mother carries me to the streets every morning and picks me up in the evening. It’s been seven years now and my mother is now weak and fragile, she can’t work anymore. I am the sole bread winner. I can’t quit begging,” added Musioka.
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Miremba Natukunda from Uganda has been a street beggar for three years. She has a paralysed child who is psychologically disturbed. She doesn’t have any family in Kenya except the well-wishers who feed her and her son.
Natukunda, who resides in the sprawling Kiandutu slums, has been living in Kenya for the last three years and she says that Kenyan people are more generous than her people back home and to her Kenya is more than her native home.
“I do not have relatives in Kenya and I do not wish to go back to Uganda because my home now is in Kenya. My husband together with his relatives threw me out of their home after they discovered that my child was paralyzed,” Natukunda said. “I realised I had to protect my son and that is how I took off and came to Thika a place that I now call home,” revealed Natukunda.
Donkey meat used in producing medicine
Chinese nationals are keen on trading for the donkey hides and private parts for use in their thriving pharmaceutical industries.
China and South Korea are now the main market for the country’s donkey by-products including hides and private parts said to be used for production of medicines including fertility ones. Kenya already has three donkey slaughterhouses both in Naivasha, Mogotio and Lodwar where demand for the donkey has been on the rise.
The Chief Executive Officer of Naivasha-based Star Brilliant slaughterhouse John Ngonjo Kariuki said production of the donkey products had doubled in the last one year despite a number of challenges facing the sector.
He told the press after a tour of the facility, which has employed 150 workers, that Chinese nationals are keen on trading for the donkey hides and private parts for use in their thriving pharmaceutical industries. “The Chinese are using the donkey products for production of pharmaceutical and fertility products,” he said.
The CEO added that currently the Naivasha abattoir was slaughtering over 100 donkeys per day but this is expected to double following the acquisition of a Ksh20 million refrigerating machine.
“We have a new market in South Korea and we are making plans to start exporting donkey milk which is very nutritious,” he said.
During the tour, Ngonjo defended the sector amid allegations that it was responsible for the rise in donkey theft in parts of the country, adding that they were working with the local administration and the department of veterinary services to ensure the slaughtered donkeys were legally acquired.
While revisiting an incident that occurred last week where stolen donkeys were found in the facility, the CEO clarified that the culprits had since been arrested though the owners had resolved the issue out of court.
On the future of the sector, the investor said that the country had adequate donkeys to sustain the three slaughterhouses, adding that according to the 2009 census, Kenya had close to two million donkeys and anticipated that the number has increased.
The revelation comes in the wake of fears expressed by a section of stakeholders who feel that the trade was not sustainable as there were no policy guidelines to manage the sector.
However, the investor said plans were underway to start rearing their own donkeys or support farmers across the country come up with the best rearing methods to increase animal numbers and help improve the sector.
Witch doctor’s magic fails at most critical moment
The witch doctors and the two men were arraigned before court but were not charged as police requested for more time to carry out further investigations
Police in Mombasa have arrested five people following Wednesday’s drama where two suspected thieves stripped naked after allegedly stealing a car.
Kisauni Officer Commanding Police Division (OCPD) Christopher Rotich confirmed that two Ugandan witch doctors, the two men who posed as thieves and a woman said to be the owner of the car were in police custody at Bamburi.
The witch doctors and the two men were arraigned before a Shanzu court Wednesday but were not charged as the police requested for more time to carry out further investigations.
The suspects were taken back to Bamburi police station and were expected to be chargedon Friday.
Rotich said the witchdoctors would also be charged with being in possession of a snake without a license from the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS).
The two men, who pretended to have been attacked by “evil spirits”, caused a drama in Bamburi on Wednesday when they stripped naked with a snake dangling from the neck of one of them.
The early morning incident attracted a huge crowd causing serious traffic snarl-ups along Bamburi road.
The suspects were said to have choreographed the drama in a bid to promote the witch doctors in an attempt to defraud innocent members of the public.
The tourist resort town of Mombasa is home to many witch doctors believed to provide solutions or concoctions for various problems.
A casual walk along Mombasa streets reveals adverts stuck on poles and fences by witch doctors claiming they have solutions to various ailments.
The witch doctors, known in Kiswahili as ‘waganga’, allegedly offer assistance in matters of business, money, love, infertility and tracing of lost relatives.
It was believed the witch doctors enjoyed booming business during the electioneering period as a number of politicians were alleged to have visited them for help to win elections.
Naked truth? Car thieves find themselves nude
Residents of Mombasa city were Wednesday morning treated to bizarre drama when two men suspected to have stolen a car walked naked in the streets, with a snake dangling from the neck of one of them. The owner of the car, a Tanzanian, had sought the help of a witch doctor after police allegedly failed to recover the vehicle stolen five days ago.
The incident, which went viral in the social media, attracted a huge crowd, causing serious traffic snarl-ups along Bamburi Road. The vehicle owner rushed to the scene accompanied by his witch doctor, who later demanded to take the suspects to his house for cleansing.
The two suspects, who were visibly confused, were arrested and booked at Bamburi police station while the snake was taken by Kenya Wildlife Service guards. The tourist resort town of Mombasa is home to many witch doctors who are believed to provide solutions for various problems.
When you take a casual walk along Mombasa streets, you will be confronted with contacts of witch doctors and their medicine for various ailments placed on fences and poles. The witch doctors – known in Kiswahili as ‘waganga’ – commonly offer assistance in matters relating business, politics, money, love, infertility and also claim to trace lost relatives and items.
It is difficult to differentiate between a true doctor and a fake one as they both operate in a clandestine manner. “Witch doctors are very helpful as they have solutions to a number of problems and ailments that cannot be treated in hospitals,” said Peter Kalama, a resident of Kisauni.
Mombasa residents might now resort to seeking help from the witch doctors to protect themselves from criminals or to recover stolen property.
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