Nairobi (AFP) March 13, 2011
Crime, poverty and festering raw sewage are fertilising one of the most unlikely projects in Nairobi's Kibera slum: an organic farm run by former criminals.
The gang of ex-criminals, mostly petty offenders, now toil in a greenhouse in one of Kibera's most dangerous districts, producing organic vegetables from a converted dumpsite.
Three months of hard labour in 2008 is what it took the group of around 40 farmers to clear the piece of land, measuring half a hectare (1.2 acres), of its decades-old heap of refuse and transform it into an arable plot.
"We then dug it one metre (yard) deep and brought new soil. Sunflowers were planted to suck up any heavy metals that might have been left," said Erick Ogoro Simba, one of the project leaders.
Last year, the group set up the greenhouse, which lies along the Nairobi-Kampala railway running through Kibera, and have since been able to produce a dozen crates of tomatoes daily as well as other vegetables which they sell to local residents.
"Without the farm, I always think that I would have been dead or in prison or something like that because we have lost most of our friends and brothers in crime," said 25-year-old Victor Matioli.
Kibera residents appreciate buying the vegetables at a cheaper price, but such benefits are only shared within Kenya's biggest slum as well-off Nairobi residents are loath to consume anything grown there.
Although laboratory tests have certified the farm's produce as suitable, the small plot still borders a garbage heap, kept at bay only by a barbed-wire fence and where homeless children rummage about for food.
The farm is run under Youth Reform, a local organisation for young people in Kibera, where it has also built three water tanks and toilets with funding from foreign donors.
Still, the reputation of the Kibera farmers overshadows their attempts to cultivate a new image.
"There are some people who are still sceptical. They think it is like a curtain (behind which we are hiding) and that we are still doing bad things," head of farm production Alamin Ibrahim said.
But the group ambitions to inspire and sway other young people from a life of crime remain in focus, and project leader Simba said they planned to convert several slum dumpsites into organic farms.
"In the next five years we'll be engaging with other slums, other communities because our young men have already been trained so we want to use them," Said Simba.
"We want that knowledge to get out there. We have more dumping sites than homes in the slums so we want, if it is possible, to transform other dumping sites into farms."
Former violent robber Hussein Haroun, 25, said he was perturbed to see many teenagers turning to armed robbery as a short-cut to material satisfaction.
"Youth just want Western lifestyle; go to the club, own a car, nice clothes. They find the work we are doing here tedious."
Share This Article With Planet Earth
Farming Today - Suppliers and Technology
Arab world faces more food crises
Cairo (UPI) Mar 11, 2011
The wave of political upheaval engulfing the Arab world was unleashed in large part because of high food prices in countries that depend on imports to feed burgeoning populations. But as imports swell, new crises are on their way. "For decades the agricultural policy of the Middle East and North Africa has been extremely simple: hydrocarbon exports pay for carbohydrate imports," observe ... read more
NASA And Other Satellites Keeping Busy With This Week's Severe Weather|
Can Bhuvan Give Google Earth A Run For Its Money
NASA Warns Ice Melt Speeding Up
GOCE Delivers On Its Promise
Complementary Technology Could Provide Solution To Our GPS Vulnerability
Coalition To Save Our GPS Launched
Garmin Announces The G1000H For Helicopters
New Marine And Coastal Geospatial Data Available
Colombian Amazon village bans prying tourists
US scientists recruit crocodiles to save wetlands
Trading places: Kenyans swap carbon roles to save forest
Scientists Study Control Of Invasive Tree In Western US
Full Harvest Of Ford Greener Fuel Solutions
Solazyme And Dow Form Alliance
Enzymes From Garden Compost Could Favour Bioethanol Production
Top Advanced Biofuels Groups Meet In Washington
Harrisonburg Passes Tax Exemption As Incentive For Solar Power
JA Solar Announces Investment Agreement With City Of Hefei
SunSi Completes Acquisition Of Chinese TCS Facility
Renewables could bring job boon to Poland: Greenpeace
American Electric Technologies Announces Deployment With Emergya Wind Technologies
GL Garrad Hassan Delivers Wind Map Of Lebanon
Eon to build fifth U.K. offshore wind farm
GL Garrad Hassan Launches Onshore Wind Resource Mapping For UK
China, US agree to cooperate on mine safety
China says over 2,400 dead in coal mines in 2010
Dalai Lama pleads for right to 'retire'
Tibet exile MPs to debate Dalai Lama 'retirement'
Tibetans confronted by life after Dalai Lama
Dalai Lama 'retirement' puts spotlight on Tibetan elections
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2010 - SpaceDaily. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement|