A farmer has shared his experiences of his once in a lifetime study tour of Kenya.
Andrew Brown, from Caldecott, embarked upon his first ever trip to Africa to witness first hand how different schemes and organisations really make a difference in local communities.
He was also taken aback by the stunning wildlife and cultures he experienced.
The trip was organised the trip through Leaf - Linking Environment And Farming, part funded by Defra and facilitated by rural surveyor Smiths Gore. Andrew was one of nine farmers to be selected for the trip.
Writing in his blog after his journey, Andrew said: “I now feel I have a much greater understanding of the problems facing sub-Saharan Africa and if we all do just a little to help we can make a difference.”
After arriving in Kenya’s capital Nairobi, Andrew and the other farmers visited an elephant sanctuary, where calves, orphaned by poachers, were being reared.
Andrew was then driven to the Muthaiga Club which is allied to the Farmers Club in London, of which he is the membership chairman.
He then set off on a journey to Thika, where ex-pats Dr Henry Wainwright and Louise Labuschagne had set up a business called Real IPM which was harvesting spiders to kill off red spider mites - a big pest problem in flower production in Africa. Another project of Real IPM was putting beneficial fungi into soil to prevent a lot of soil borne diseases. Andrew also learned that the business had set up a charity called Real Impact which helps the local community with a self-run kitchen and restaurant.
Writing in his blog, Andrew said: “I think we can learn a lot from these people and may have to adopt some of their practices as more of the active ingredients in pesticides are banned.”
Other highlights during Andrew’s trip included; a visit to an avocado farm, which was producing 4,000 tons of fruit; a trip to Kenya Horticultural Exports, which grows broccoli and runner beans for Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and Tesco; a look around a new maternity unit which is being funded by the Waitrose Foundation and caters for 50,000 people; and a visit of Finlay’s Horticulture Ibis Farm, which produces 20 tons of runner beans and 20 to 30 tons a week of pre-packed stir fry vegetables for Tesco and Marks and Spencer.
He also enjoyed a safari at Nakuru National Park, where he saw white rhinos, learning about work done in communities by the Fairtrade Foundations, and much more.
Andrew said: “I have come back with a different outlook on Kenya, Africa and its people and wildlife. To see the things we saw first hand was a remarkable experience.”