|Cindy learns about grafting mangoes|
We left early for Cheptebo, Rural Development Centre, located in Kerio Valley, more than three hours away from Kitale, to the south and east. This is but a small part of the Great East African Rift Valley system.
The project was founded in 1986 by Bill Rettie and the Africa Inland Mission (AIM). Joseph, the project manager, and his wife Sarah visited various regions of the UK last year as part of their twenty fifth anniversary celebrations, including Crieff, where they met Tina and exchanged information about Cheptebo and the Aquinoe Learning Centre.
As we are hoping to acquire more land and start up a small “garden” project, we thought it would be useful to gain information from as many farming schemes as possible.
|Super sized mangoes|
Although farming forms a large part of the project, it has a Christian ethos and the compound includes a church, two conference halls, accommodation for guests, a dining hall, a dispensary and a farm shop. The farming side employs over thirty people now and there are several facets to it:
- Growing crops - mangoes, paw paws, avocadoes, watermelons, tomatoes;
- Encouraging the best use of the land in the most sustainable way - e.g. grafting higher yielding plants onto local root stock;
- Keeping animals - cattle, goats, chickens;
- Using animals which can survive the sometimes semi arid condtions but still give higher yields;
- Keeping bees;
- Doing outreach work with local farmers and schools;
- Running courses for farmers and school children;
|Joseph, Sarah, Cindy & Josphat|
Just before returning we drove the short distance to the bottom of the valley to see the impressive gorge and spotted a crocodile lazing at the edge of the water.
Bad part . . .
While making the long climb back up out f the valley, the car started to overheat. We made two stops to add water to the steaming radiator and eventually limped in to a garage in the town of Iten, where we waited for about an hour while a temporary solution was found for the water leak.
Iten, incidentally, is the self styled “Home of Champions” as a large number of the elite Kenya athletes come from this area.
|Crocodile at bottom of Kerio Gorge|
We had just set off again after our delay, when we were stopped at a police road check. We have seen loads of them in the past couple of weeks but never been stopped. Ann inspection quickly produced a rap o the windscreen and we were told that the insurance certificate was invalid. No, it wasn’t out of date. No, it wasn’t for a different vehicle. We were informed that the insurance company had been wound up and therefore the certificate was worthless. After a wait of over an hour, payment of a bail bond of KES5,000 and a demand for Josphat to attend court in Eldoret on Friday, we were allowed to go.
We had planned to get home before six o’clock get washed and changed and be out for eight o’clock as I was treating my hosts to a meal. In the event, we arrived in town at the restaurant at eight thirty, tired and unwashed.