Rich soil washed down the headwaters of the Nile all the way to Egypt
Our friend Davison looks down from his tea bushes to the stream gorge below, and sighs,“Egypt should send us a big THANK YOU card because of how much us farmers love to send out our soil to them at no cost.” Davison explains that the soil from his steep-sloped farm is slowly washing from between the tea bushes, into the stream at the bottom of the gully. We are in the watershed of the Mighty Nile, and so this stream will eventually dump into the Nile itself, and all the sediment the stream carries will enrich the farms in Egypt along the Nile.”
When it rains in Kenya, it is a torrential downpour that immediately causes huge run-off. Tea bushes are damaged as the fast moving streams course around the plants’ roots. The streams of water strip the dirt off the tea bush roots and expose the fine tendrils to the hot and dry sun. It slowly debilitates, even kills the tea bush.
But Davison is aware of this. In spite of the poverty of this region, he and his neighbours are working at solutions. Erosion is halted in part by the planting rows of tall tough grass called napier grass. This grass is chopped up with a machete and used to feed goats and cows. Sometimes corn, used to make wonderful “ugali” is planted in terraced rows alongside of napier grass to create strong root network which stops the dirt from being carried away by the rains.
JusTea is working with Boaz Katah, a Kenyan with an undergrad commerce degree from the US. We are proud to have him as our Kenyan partner. He wants to come alongside these farmers to improve soil conditions for growing tea. He is looking to you to help in research into methods of organic tea farming, consistent with the economics of 1-acre smallholder farms. If you want to make a donation to the work in Kenya, please don’t! Boaz does not want your money as a donation. He wants investment in jobs, so please buy JusTea!
Davison states “it is beautiful to see the rain, but in a week, my rain barrel will be empty again. It is just not big enough for all our needs, and the animals. Mama Grace will again have to walk all the way down to the stream at the bottom of the valley to collect our water.” Davison needs water for his family of 6, for the 3 cows and 8 goats, for washing and cooking. In the dry season, Mama climbs this tiny steep path sometimes three times in a day to bring up the water.
He is trying to save money by selling goats milk, and recently weaned a goat from mother’s milk and sold it. It’s all to buy rain gutters and a second barrel so that he can collect the rain water from the other side of the homestead roof.
For us at JusTea, it is not that we want to give hand-outs to families like Davison. Instead with your purchase of tea, we can partner together with Davison to increase his tea income and allow him to invest in the barrel for rain.