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Friday, June 17, 2011

Day 40 Kharanda June 17, 2011


Today was day 40 here in Kenya and that number always seems to amaze me.  It truly is a Godly number.  Today we found the seedlings we needed and possibly have found the NGO with the micro-finance mechanism in their constitution to start funding some of these projects.  I was worried about transportation of the fruit to market and that seems to be solved too.  I was also wondering how to train everyone in growing passion fruit and that seems to be solved as well.  Today was a great day.

This morning Hezron picked me up and we went off to the orchard site.  The workers were all there and we were ready to finish the preparation of the plot.  While we were working on getting everyone going on their tasks Hezron received a call from KARI for the nursery in Bungoma County that has the certified passion fruit seeds.  Hezron gave them a call and told them that we were on our way.  We left the site in good hands and once we returned late in the evening the site had been completed.  It was too dark to take any pictures so it will have to wait until we plant on Monday.

We were on our way to the nursery and we passed an area that Hezron just had to tell me about and of course I am more then willing to here a great story.  Today’s topic was just too juicy to pass up.  I did not realize that voodoo and witch doctors still existed in Kenya.  This area is called Kharanda and Hezron told me that he had done quite a bit of evangelizing in this area to help bring this community to Christ.  He says that some people still practice the craft in secret.  He told me that they use some really powerful African herbs to perform their dastardly deeds.  Hezron told me that some witch doctors would be hired by farmers to stop thieves from stealing maize and even their wives.  In the past a thief would go into the field grab an ear of corn and presto the thief is paralyzed on the spot until the owner comes and releases the would be thief of their position.  Do not try to have sex with his wife either because the same thing will happen.  I am told that the wife is unaware that the husband has prepared her for any possible violation until the perpetrator is left helpless on the spot until he is released from the spell.  Hezron told me of one farmer that was convicted of killing 14 people by just leaving them in the field until they died.  I guess witch doctors could also make quite a bit of money by saving peoples lives even after they had caused the condition in the first place.  Don’t try to sue for malpractice or you just might find yourself begging to be saved again.  As we were passing the corn fields and I am truly sorry but I really would have loved to see someone grabbing an ear of corn and frozen on the spot.

We made it to Wamulu International and met with Rev. Robert Wafulu the CEO of the organization.  This nursery is the first nursery in Kenya to have certified Kephis passion fruit seedlings.  They are partially funded by United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Kenya Horticulture Competitive Project (KHCP).  Robert gave us the grand tour of his facilities and showed us his small test plot.  Not only is Wamulu a nursery but it is also an NGO that just so happens to have micro-finance objectives in their constitution.  They presently do not have an operating micro-finance operation but are more then willing to partner with someone to start one.  Robert says there are lots of farmers that want to convert from maize but do not have the cash to pay for the start up costs to put in the orchard.  Many people have asked him if they could borrow the money to start an orchard.  Robert and Wamulu just don’t have any money to lend.  Robert has been experimenting on different techniques to help reduce the costs of the initial investment.  By looking at his plot both Hezron and I noticed that he did not have hardly as many support posts as we did on our plot.  We asked him about it and we told him that we prepared our plot according to KARI guidelines in Kakamega.  Not only are they using far less timber but their seedlings are 3 meters apart in a row vs. our 2 meters.  He says that planting every two meters reduces the yield after 3 years because the roots are shallow and they start to compete with the next plant.  Robert says that planting every three meters will maximize the yield up to years.  So now I have to reformulate all my numbers again.  It seems that we do not have to spend as much as we did on support posts and even the gage of the support wire.  His grafted seedlings are 35 Ksh each and I would think that could be negotiated once we start giving thousand seedling orders.    

Robert confirmed that each plant should yield one kilo per week and he is willing to come pick up our fruit at our orchard or drop site and pay 80 Ksh for every kilo on the spot.  He is currently taking 15 tons per week to market from his cooperative farmers either in Eldoret or taking them to Uganda for processing and export.  Robert tells me that the weekly demand is 100,000 tons and there is still plenty of capacity to be filled.  I was thinking that this plot for the widows would only produce about 8,000 Ksh to 10,000 Ksh maximum and it now looks like almost 14,000 Ksh a week.  The widow’s orchard is going to be planted for less then $500.00 and after the fruit starts coming in it should yield about $175.00 a week.  This is a pay back of a few weeks.  I still do not understand why there isn't thousands of orchards along the country side instead of maize and sugar cane.  Robert has connections with experts that will come in and train our farmers on passion fruit and I have already tentatively scheduled a training session for July 11th thru the 15th.  The need is here, the labor is here, the land is here, the supplies are here, the training is here and the market is here.  Everything is in place except the seed capital to start these orchards.  We purchased the 174 certified purple passion fruit seedlings and headed back to Kakamega.

Our tax dollars at work

Passion fruit seedlings for sale

Outside of Passion Fruit greenhouse

Group photo inside greenhouse with seedlings

Three by two spacing and less posts

Heavy support posts at the end of the rows

So next time you are thinking of charitable giving please consider what we are looking to do here in East Africa.  All dollars that are put into a project such as this will be returned to the NGO and redistributed again and again.  We are also looking at using investors money for a certain period of time to fund these projects then returned to the lender if desired.  Any and all profits will be used to either support the operations of the micro-finance (NGO) or returned to the communities from which they come.  You know if you are going to put your money into a hole it might as well be one that produces fruit.

Today was a real up day for me and tomorrow I will be here at the guest house with Pastor Ososo in the morning.  Please pray for him and his family he is in Kakamega to bury his sister who died a couple of weeks ago.  I will also be reworking all the numbers that I once thought were gospel to reflect our learning today.

Take care and God bless



  1. Awesome Dave,
    OK how much ($500) can I send and to whom to to help this wonderful project?
    My next presents (Christmas, BD, etc.) to me from family are going toward this project.
    What a blessing you are to these wonderful people.

  2. Ned

    Thank you so much for your generous contribution. Money can be sent to.

    Olathe Wesleyan Church
    Pastor Jim Wood
    15320 S. Ridgeview Road
    Olathe, KS 66062

    Attn: Dave Wood Kenya trip

    We are in the process of finalizing the total costs to plant acres of passion fruit and the more money we have the more passion fruit we can plant. What is really nice about this is you are going to see your money working to better the lives of these people.

    Thanks again and God bless