October 18, 2013. Tucked away in Loresho Crescent among residential houses is Mavuuno Greenhouses Inc. offers affordable, expandable and durable greenhouses suitable for small-scale farmers.
Driven by love for humanity and good health, 72 year old Dr. Wanjiru Kamau the chief executive officer of the company, is the initiator of the greenhouses in Kenya with the help of Pennsylvania State University.
The fundamental design was developed in collaboration with the Humanitarian Engineering Social Entrepreneurship (HESE) program of Pennsylvania State University, who performed research and provided original technology innovation, while Mavuuno team modified the original greenhouse and came up with three sizes.
With a team of 16 trained technicians drawn from village polytechnics and two agronomists Dr. Kamau has managed to traverse the country equipping farmers not only with the greenhouses but also technical knowhow on how to grow crops organically.
The three sizes are; Uzima-A, Uzima-B and Maisha with a lifespan of over ten years for the structure and five years for the UV film cover, which requires minimal maintenance.
Uzima-A is the smallest measuring 5.5 by 6.1metres and cost Sh.55,000. Uzima-B has the same measurements as Uzima-A, but has more headroom and cost a total of Sh. 60,000.
According to Dr. Kamau, Uzima B greenhouse enables a farmer to grow climbing crops which would automatically call for more headroom. Both Uzima A and B come with a drip-kit and a 230 litres plastic water tank each. The two have the capacity to hold a population of 103 plants at any given season.
The third and the largest is Maisha greenhouse measuring 8 by 15 metres and a farmer needs to part with Sh.140,000 to acquire one. This greenhouse comes complete with a drip-kit and a 500 litres plastic water tank. It can comfortably hold a population of 552 plants and it’s the most popular model of the three.
A farmer has the option of planting two-tiered crops as long as the top-tier of plants does not interfere with the light reaching the lower tier of plants. This according to Dr. Kamau can be applied whereby one plants vegetables on the lower tier and herbs on the upper tier.
It takes two days for the team to complete the construction of the greenhouses each with between six and seven beds on soil.
She grows everything organically in the two demonstrations Uzima-A and Maisha greenhouses within her compound. With the help of some of her team she amasses anything bio-degradable within her compound ranging from kitchen peelings to fence trimmings, cuts them into small into small pieces and puts them in an underground compost pit to decompose.
In the pit she introduces Effective Micro-organisms (EM) chemical to the bio-degradable materials and mixes them with soil and water. After mixing, the pit is then covered with a polythene covering and left for 21 days for proper decomposition.
And how does one know that the mixture is ready for use? She says all one needs to do is pierce the mixture with a stick and if it emits smoke that means it is not ready and needs more time to decompose properly. If the 21 days are over and the smoke is still there one is advised to sprinkle a little water to speedup the decomposition process.
“What am looking at is how to make people eat good food,” she adds.
Dr. Kamau also encourages farmers to harvest rain-water from the greenhouses roofs to supplement the existing water towers in the country.
She says she will retire when she achieves her dream of having made a substantial impact of feeding people and eradicating poverty especially among Kenyans.
To inquire more about the greenhouses call Dr. Wanjiru Kamau on: – 0734 698 424/ 0722 501 938 or email: –firstname.lastname@example.org
By Ann Ndung’u