Global Food Crisis Hits Kuria, Kenya

By November 4, 2008 Nuru Model 2 Comments

Well, I hear that the sky is pretty much falling back home. With the investment banking industry going the way of the dodo, the Dow Jones fluctuating wildly, consumer confidence tanking, and rising food and energy prices, the current administration and the Fed seem to be left scratching their heads in utter confusion and frustration. Many Americans have been left with a growing uneasy feeling of insecurity as they watch helplessly while what once seemed to be immovable icons of security collapse like a house of cards.

Security…that basic feeling that makes you feel like tomorrow is going to be OK – that everything will just work itself out – because, well…it just always does right?

I want you to look inside of yourself right now and just sit in that feeling of insecurity for a second. That feeling really sucks doesn’t it? Now imagine waking up and feeling that awful, gut-wrenching feeling…every day. Imagine that your insecurity stems – not from the question of whether or not you will be able to afford that second car or that sweet apartment you’ve been looking at in the city – but from whether or not you will be able to survive this next day. Imagine looking over at your children still asleep and praying that you will be able to scrape together enough shillings to be able to feed them just one meal to give them the strength to hang on another day.

Maize (corn) is the staple food for much of Sub-Saharan Africa. Almost every farmer here in Kenya grows maize to feed his/her family. There are two crop seasons that correspond to the two rainy seasons. Every March, farmers plant their one or two acres in maize – hoping to be able to grow enough maize to last their families until the next rainy season in August when the can plant again.

But there’s a problem. The soil has been farmed for so long without crop rotation that it has become drastically lacking in nitrogen and other nutrients necessary for high yields. Luckily, by simply including properly utilized fertilizer as part of the planting and maintenance procedure for their crops, farmers can dramatically increase their crop yields from 2-4 bags of maize per acre to 13-15 bags/acre! An increase in crop yields such as this can mean the difference between a family losing some of their children to starvation and being able to afford to send those same children to a private secondary school where they can receive a high quality education. The solution seems so hopeful and simple. Enter the global food crisis…

The UN World Food Program stated that rapidly rising food prices has drastically increased the world’s hungry – up almost 18% since 2005. The food crisis is causing a drastic increase in the demand for maize (a good thing) while simultaneously causing the prices of the inputs needed by the farmers (fertilizer and topdressing) to absolutely skyrocket (a very bad thing). Because of this, our farmers can’t afford to buy the fertilizer they so desperately need to be able to prevent the coming hunger season.

Our plan is to make a loan to the farmers in the form of high quality inputs (seed, fertilizer, and topdressing) to empower them to bust through that seemingly impossible barrier to entry. This simple concept will radically change the lives of approximately 500 farm families – impacting over 2,500 individuals in our pilot community in just one short year. The increase in yield will allow the farmers to pay back the loan and have enough maize for consumption to last the entire season. In addition, the surplus can be saved to purchase the inputs next season without a loan and pay for school and medical fees – making them truly self-sufficient.

Unfortunately, the barrier has risen to become an obstacle for even us to purchase the inputs – more than doubling the cost of the agriculture program to $50,000 more than we budgeted. We need to order this fertilizer NOW for these families in order to give them some hope of experiencing that elusive feeling that we call security. Right now as you read this, one investment packet of inputs for a family farming one acre of maize now costs approximately $120 – the equivalent of one third of one of these farmer’s annual income – but that number will be irrelevant when you wake up tomorrow. You can I can make a difference right now that will have a tangible, life-changing impact on real lives…real faces that I see and talk with every day here.

If this story has struck a chord with you today, I encourage you to get involved RIGHT NOW. I know that our nation is in the grip of a powerful fear right now, I ask you today to set that aside and consider the opportunity you have to make an immediate impact to bring security to another family on the other side of the world, or whom life and death is a real concern. God bless you.

About Jake Harriman

Founder & CEO — Jake graduated with distinction from the US Naval Academy and served seven and a half years as an Infantry and Special Operations Platoon Commander in the Marine Corps. Jake left the military and enrolled at Stanford Graduate School of Business to found Nuru International. Upon graduation, Jake led a team to launch Nuru’s first project in Kenya.

2 Comments

  • cecilia kimwama mohochi says:

    Hi,Jake
    Thank for considering Kuria for your seed pilot project.Its my sincere hope that this project will go along way in lifting this marginalized district.

    Thanks and God bless you.

    Cecy

  • Elizabeth Cosmides says:

    Hi Jake
    Heard about Nuru through your mom’s Christmas letter. I am very proud of your dedication to such a worthy cause. Someday our paths will cross and I can learn more about your work.
    Your godmother,
    Libby

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