Shooting for Farm Africa in Western Kenya
As far as the east is from the west…
That’s how different it was shooting in Kitui and western Kenya for Farm Africa. While farmers in Kitui have unreliable rainfall and poor soils working against them, farmers in Western Kenya have some of the most fertile soils in Kenya, and beautiful weather to crown their favour. But having these isn’t enough. A lot of training is needed for the farmers to take advantage of their blessings to achieve the best harvests. And that’s where Farm Africa step in.With their agricultural officers visiting farmers to equip them with knowledge that boosts their harvests, Farm Africa’s Nairobi communications office invited me to tag along as they toured projects they were supporting in Kenya’s bread basket. We started off in a snow peas farm in Tungumo Village, Trans Nzoia East.
Whenever I go on photography assignments, I take time to interact with my subjects before shooting starts, getting to know them better and making them comfortable with having their photo taken. It always gives better – looking, natural results.
When I was done photographing Emily, I put my camera aside and asked if I could hold Ian. He usually doesn’t agree to be held by strangers but he accepted me. Emily and I were excited and laughed about it. Ian on the other hand, to show his excitement, decided to relieve himself on me! I quickly gave him back to his mother who said it was a sign of a blessing.
Blessed, I know I am. But that sign, no!
From there we headed to Leltangat Village where I met Gladys Kipkorir harvesting snow peas. Getting here was quite a workout as I had to descend and ascend a steep valley on foot, with a packed camera bag on my back. It was quite a workout.
I spotted these children playing in Nyuki Village, our next location. They wanted to have their photo taken; I was happy to make their wish come true.
Might be the reason this place is called Nyuki.
While stooped low shooting at one of the farms in Nyuki, I heard a voice calling out in the distance ‘Mzungu, nipige picha!’ I ignored it and continued getting the shots I was here to capture. ‘Mzungu, nipige picha!’ Over and over again it continued until I had to look up and see who was this calling me a white man and why did he want a photo?
Across the valley on another hill, I saw a young boy standing in an open field with some cows grazing nearby. I responded ‘Kuja nikupige picha!’ He immediately bolted out towards me, taking the winding path down the valley and onto the hill I was on.
He told me his name is Meshack, he is 9 years old and goes to school nearby. After a few clicks, I showed him his portrait on the camera’s screen. He giggled in excitement, said thanks and run back to his side of the valley.
On one day, I got to accompany Bundi from Farm Africa on his visit to Kahawa Youth Group in Sinyereri. He was here to give them practical tips on how to identify a good french bean plant and how to harvest in compliance with international standards. This is the first time many group members were interacting with french beans so it was very insightful meeting for them.
From Kahawa we drove for quite a while and ended up in Sabwani Village where we met Jane Kasisi harvesting french beans. At 63, I was impressed at how much energy she had going about tending to her crop with the help of other farmers under her leadership.
One of the reasons I love travelling is the opportunity to have first time experiences. Like this one in Kakamega, where I got to see catfish being harvested! I had never seen catfish apart from in photos and now I was going to see how they are harvested! In my excitement, I removed my shoes, rolled up my trousers and got into the pond to take shots of the harvesters.
Forget those market scenes the washing detergents use, they should use these guys as a true test of their dirt removing capabilities.
I wanted to get a good photo of the sorting process so for this shot, I placed a GoPro in the net and clicked away as the harvesters sorted the fish according to weight.
Still in Kakamega, we met Gilbert Tongyo who buys fish from Uganda, and sells it in Amalemba Market.
His fish moves fast as he is one of few fish sellers in the market. He also has great customer service which keeps clients returning for more.
On the last day of my week in Western Kenya with Farm Africa, I visited Bidii Fish Farmers in Luanda. We found them making fish food for sale using locally available ingredients.
My highlight from this assignment was getting to see catfish being harvested. It is an experience that makes me want to go eat some. And so I will.