Cows, bees, and coffee

6 January 2012

Today we talked about livestock parasites, and as practical work dosed one of the cows. Two person job.  Mr Mlay held onto it and opened its mouth so I could get the bottle in, but I still had to use my other hand to help get its mouth open by sticking my fingers in its nostrils and pulling up with all my might. Ick! Had to do this many times to get all the medication down. Cow didn’t seem too upset afterwards, though.

Then we went to visit a farmer with a beekeeping project. He also has quite a big farm, for here. Lots of cucumbers and tomatoes. He has six beehives. Half a  litre of honey sells for Tsh15k, and he gets 10 litres a hive a year, so it’s a pretty lucrative project. They use trench irrigation in this area, and it makes a big difference. The water comes down from the mountain, and they build trenches through all the fields for the water to trickle through.  Walked from there to Himo, which was very sweaty. One part we went through was flat-out desert, with lots of cacti.

After lunch I went to spend the weekend with KEDA’s board chairman. He lives way up in the hills. It’s very lush and cool and remote. He took me to visit the local coffee cooperative, which was cool because it was seeing the other end of the supply chain from the one I’m used to – the grocery store shelf. The guy there gave a very thorough explanation of how they work. They keep close records of the farmers, and who’s organic and who isn’t. They already know who grows organic and who doesn’t , although I’m not sure there’s a mechanism for verifying organic. Maybe it isn’t necessary. Anyway, they store it separately and so on. A kilo of non-organic pays Tsh4000 and a kilo of organic pays Tsh4200, at the moment. Prices come from the central office, where they keep track of world market prices and set the local prices accordingly. They also have a demonstration farm and a nursery where they sell coffee seedling to generate income. Very interesting.

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