Hey guys, the mjengo series begins and I did not even want to say anything because the article is so good .So let me not waste time , if you know any farmers share this with them, it was an eye opener for me. Look out for the sentence in bold because it really highlights how society works and the plight of a farmer somewhere in a village.
The final year project gives a student the opportunity of participating in the field of research. A university is a centre for research and after having siphoned knowledge it is expected that the student will be able to identify problem in the society and research out to find an engineering solution to the same.
As the final year was first approaching I was thinking on how my research would take shape. It took several months thinking about the existing problems in the society but then this wasn’t enough. At the back of my mind I wanted something that would benefit my society but doable within the constraints of the available resources and to curve a niche, the choice of my favorite field water engineering had to play a role.
It happens that in the year 2017 my county, the breadbasket of the whole nation experiences erratic rainfall during the planting season. This could not mean less to the farmers whose livelihood is pegged on the maize farming. It is also important to keep in mind that over the past few years, our country has been faced with both artificial and real shortage of maize. Surprisingly when the granary of the farmer is empty is not such a big deal as when the supermarket shelves are empty somewhere in a city. That aside, what is important is the problem and could it be solved by engineers?
In trying to identify the solution to the problem, it was an observation that the government is pumping a lot of resources in expanding the current irrigation, rejuvenating the ones operating which are not operating optimally as designed. The peak of it all is when the government declared food security as one of its key strategies to deliver in the second term.
In my search for a solution to this problem, I came across a scientific paper on Thukela basin in South Africa that worked on finding onset days and dry spell to aid the small-scale farmers in the semi-arid country produce enough food. This sparked the idea that in this country research has mainly focused on establishing the requirements for optimal production of grains but then there was need to pass this message to the farmer who has over the years been relying on observation of weather patterns. Over the years the rainfall patterns have become unpredictable and erratic, this has thrown the farmers off balance and has resulted in them reaping a considerable loss and culminated in the number of unga packets in the shelves becoming lesser and lesser.
So there the idea sprang forth, and through sufficient consultation I managed to come up with a tangible research topic on establishing dependable planting dates and the associated dry spell risk and thereafter developing and a user-friendly interface for the farmer to get this information. The work has not been easy as earlier perceived. It has taken patience to fetch data from the responsible government agencies which is ailing from lethargy and pro-processing the crude data obtained from them into a climatic template for analysis. But thank God, this work is soon coming to an end and the farmer back in my village will be reaping the benefits of their son in the village being in campus in the school of engineering. Guess what, very soon we shall have the farmers going digital in planning their farming activities.