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Central Kenya's Nturukuma region is not kind to farmers - its erratic rainfall, desert vegetation and drying riverbeds push most people into making a living through trade rather than agriculture.

Not long ago, dusk was a time of unease for the people of Magadi, a village in Kenya's Kajiado County.

Dance for Nepal

Background: The April 2015 Nepal earthquake (also known as the Gorkha earthquake) killed more than 8,800 people and injured more than 23,000. AAF has partners in Nepal that need all the help they can and this Charity Gala Dinner is for this benefit.

Amsha Africa Foundation is proud to host a Charity Gala Dinner - Dance For Nepal - on June 12th, 2015 at the Meiterraneo 9 West  - located in the brand new 9 West building in Westlands, Nairobi.

For more information, contact +254 (0) 706 809 078

Restaurant Website: http://www.mediterraneorestaurant.co.ke/room/mediterraneo-westlands/

Thursday, 28 May 2015 09:30

Common fish problems in aquaponics

AAF has been running several aquaponic systems over the past few years. Most have been successful, but there are some lessons learned about the fish in the system that we would like to share.

Like all animals, Fish are prone to bacterial, fungal and parasitic infections. In order to limit disease incidence in your fish in the aquaponic system it is important to minimize any undue stress.

In the following table we touch on a number of stress factors that can affect the health of your fish. We also point out some methods you can use to remedy fish health problems.

Stress Factor Description Remedy
Dissolved Oxygen A lack of oxygen is the single most common cause of fish deaths in aquaponics. The more aeration in your system the healthier your fish are going to be. Sufficient aeration can be achieved by means of mechanical pumping (turning the water over) and or by introducing an aerator.
Fish and Food Solids Removing fish solids from your system is a top priority. If fish and food solids are allowed to accumulate in your system, ammonia concentrations will increase causing ill health amongst your fish. The breakdown of fish solids will also cause your dissolved oxygen levels to drop. Plumbing an offtake from your main pump line that feeds back into the top of your fish tank will ensure good water circulation around your tank. Having water cycle in this manner will keep any fish and or food solids suspended so that can be removed by the pump and filtered out in the grow bed.
High Nutrients The main nutrient of concern in aquaponics is ammonia. Ammonia is produced from the breakdown of proteins in the fish food and although it is required for healthy plant growth, too much ammonia in your system is never a good thing. If high ammonia becomes a problem you can: reduce the pH of your system by adding lemon juice; reduce the feed to your fish; add additional fresh water; or simply remove some of your fish. N.B. An increase in temperature or pH will lead to an increase in ammonia toxicity.
Water Source Depending on your water source (town/bore/tank) you will have different water quality issues to contend with. Town water will need to be de-chlorinated before it is safe for your fish, bore water normally has a fairly high pH thus potentially requiring amendment and tank water can carry with it toxic elements depending on what your tank is made from. If you do have an unexplained fish death it is definitely worth considering your incoming water quality. It is definitely advisable to use tank water wherever possible as it generally carries with the lowest risk.
Water Quality Spikes Sudden changes in water quality can also have an impact on fish health. Topping your water up regularly and introducing only small amounts each time will also protect your fish from undue stress.
Algae Algae feeds your water with oxygen during the day but starves your water of oxygen during the night. Algae will also cause your pH to rise during the day and fall away during the night. This is because it utilises available CO2 (weak acid) during the day and releases it during the night. The swings in water chemistry that algae cause are not good for your fish, plants or bacteria and should be avoided. To remove algae from your system it is important to block out sunlight from the tank. This can be done by painting your fish tank or using a impervious material for your walls such as a lined timber frame. Blocking out sunlight from your fish tank will also help to insulate your system and regulate the water temperature.
Detection:

 

  • Fungal infections: Fungal infections are visually detectable as white botches on your fish’s fins and or body.
  • Ammonia Toxicity: Fish are gasping for breath; fish have red and inflamed gills; fish appear lethargic; fish lose their appetite; and fish have red streaking on the fins or body.
  • Low dissolved oxygen: Fish die in quick succession; fish are seen gasping for oxygen; hot weather triggers the fish death; or fish die overnight and algae is present.

When it comes to treating fish for diseases, most prescription remedies should be avoided as they may accumulate in your system and make their way onto your plate.  The best action you can take is to choose a hardy fish species that is not prone to fish disease and parasite problems from the beginning. Mozambique Tilapia, Jade Perch,  and Silver Perch are both good options.

Fungal infections can be minimized by adding potassium bicarbonate to your system. Potassium bicarbonate is a natural fungicide (brought as eco-fungicide) and will have the added benefit of increasing the carbonic hardness of your system, meaning a more stable pH.

Sources: Rob Armstrong/AAF/Foodqube

 

In an effort to reverse tree losses in the Nyeri Forest, an environmental initiative has turned to an unusual barter system, offering chickens, goats or solar panels in exchange for tree planting.

Nyeri County, known for its tea and coffee production, is home to the late Nobel Peace Prize winner and environmentalist Wangari Maathai. It has the highest tree cover in Kenya – but its forests are dwindling as a result of human encroachment, some of it driven by climate change pressures on agriculture and water.

"It is a win-win situation," said Joram Mathenge, director of the Kiangure Springs Environmental Initiative (KSEI), based in central Kenya’s lush highlands.

Women herders in Kenya's semi-arid Laikipia County have broken with tradition to export the leaves of a desert plant to Europe, boosting their incomes.

Three hundred women in El Poloi have switched from the age-old occupation of goat-keeping to the new and far more lucrative activity of farming aloe, a plant with healing properties.

Along the way, they are transforming their economic status and creating educational opportunities for their daughters.

Women are not only the world’s primary food producers. They are hardworking and innovative and they invest far more of their earnings in their families than men. But most lack the single most important asset for accessing investment resources – land rights.

Thursday, 05 March 2015 19:41

Can Livestock Grazing Stop Desertification?

Livestock Grazing

Overgrazing has been a major cause of the creeping advance of deserts worldwide, but new management techniques might make livestock part of the solution

Zimbabwe's foremost land degradation expert has come up with a readily available solution for reversing the spread of deserts around the planet and slowing climate change in the process: He wants to let cows and sheep eat their way through the problem.

 

Virunga is one of the most biodiverse places on earth, and protected as a world heritage site. We must fight to ensure the protection of these beautiful, crucial natural areas.

Amsha Africa Foundation in partnership with Virunga Alliance is helping promote awareness of such protected world heritage sites that are increasingly being threatened by encroachment and global thirst for natural resources found within these protected environments.

Want to know what you can do to help protect Virunga? Check out the virungamovie.com website and take action to find out. Watch Virunga on Netflix by clicking here: http://www.netflix.com/WiMovie/80009431

About the Documentary:

VIRUNGA IS THE INCREDIBLE TRUE STORY OF A GROUP OF BRAVE PEOPLE RISKING THEIR LIVES TO BUILD A BETTER FUTURE IN A PART OF AFRICA THE WORLD'S FORGOTTEN AND A GRIPPING EXPOSE OF THE REALITIES OF LIFE IN THE CONGO.

In the forested depths of eastern Congo lies Virunga National Park, one of the most bio-diverse places on Earth and home to the planet’s last remaining mountain gorillas. In this wild, but enchanted environment, a small and embattled team of park rangers - including an ex-child soldier turned ranger, a caretaker of orphan gorillas and a dedicated conservationist - protect this UNESCO world heritage site from armed militia, poachers and the dark forces struggling to control Congo's rich natural resources. When the newly formed M23 rebel group declares war, a new conflict threatens the lives and stability of everyone and everything they've worked so hard to protect, with the filmmakers and the film’s participants caught in the crossfire.

A powerful combination of investigative journalism and nature documentary, VIRUNGA is the incredible true story of a group of courageous people risking their lives to build a better future in a part of Africa the world’s forgotten, and a gripping exposé of the realities of life in the Congo.

 

Native vegetables such as guar, Dogon shallot, and celosia could play an important role in feeding Africa.

No single food can put an end to hunger. But worldwide there are many different fruits and vegetables that are helping to improve nutrition and diets, while increasing incomes and improving livelihoods.

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