I’m in the Farm Africa office in Mwingi, eastern Kenya. I asked to use a laptop so that I could send off my monthly GC report, not being able to get any signal on my iPad.
Yesterday when we met the Vice President of Kenya in Nairobi he insisted that when we arrived in Mwingi we must visit his constituency office – this is his home patch – and sign his visitors’ book. (They are very keen on visitors’ books here, they’ve produced them at every village we’ve been to). So the others have supposedly gone round the corner to do that, but that was rather a long time ago…. and I’m beginning to wonder whether they’re coming back for me.
Mwingi is a semi-arid region, very different to Kisumu where we’ve been over the last couple of days, which is absolutely beautiful, full of amazing plants and trees, though the soil isn’t that fertile. We’re here to see Farm Africa’s dairy goat project, and visit some farms and irrigation schemes. Irrigation is, as you can imagine, a huge issue here, and if they could capture the rainfall it would make all the difference.
Last night at dinner with Farm Africa I learnt rather more about artificial insemination of goats than I perhaps need to know – th0ugh I’m looking forward to absolutely bamboozingly Jim Paice at next Defra questions. Farm Africa is trying to breed hybrid goats here, the ideal being 75% Toggenburg goats and 25% the local breed. (Toggenburgs because they produce much more milk, and a bit of local because they’re tough enough to handle arid local conditions). So that means cross-breeding twice, first time to get a 50-50 mix, and second time 75-25. The problem is that since BSE there’s been a ban in Kenya on importing live animals from the EU, even though goats don’t get BSE. And there’s a danger the goats in Mwingi are becoming rather inbred, so they need new Toggenburgs in the mix. Hence the discussion last night about AI and importing Toggenburg sperm from the UK instead. Although apparently goats are much harder to inseminate than cows (which led onto a rather graphic discussion of insemination techniques, thankfully before the food arrived).
I have the feeling this topic may only be fascinating to me, and no-one else. And now the others have arrived back from signing the visitors’ book, so I will leave you with this link, which tells you all you need to know about goats.