In April 2017 we started our first farm in Nariokotome in the north of Kenya. Joseph and Thomas are our farm-managers and make sure that everything is working. In this interview they talk about their work and motivation, but also about how Spirulina changed their situation.
Thriving Green: Who are you and what is your position in the project?
Joseph: I’m Joseph Ekoyan. I was born in Turkana, in a place called Lokitaung. My position in the project is the Coordinator.
Thomas: My name is Thomas Ekiru. I was born in Nariokotome Anam.
Thriving Green: What is your daily business about?
Joseph: l care for the Spirulina every day. In the morning I open the Spirulina palms and look whether there’re any intruders like dust, dirt or insects that I need to remove. When I see that the Spirulina is ready for harvesting, I prepare and get all the necessary materials for the harvest. Then I take the Spirulina out of the basins and dry it. It’ll be ready on the next day. Otherwise I stir the Spirulina several times a day to make surer the top layer doesn’t burn in the sun. In the evening I close the palms and check whether there’re any insects or dust inside that could pollute the Spirulina basins.
Thomas: I have the same tasks as Joseph. I help Joseph with the harvest of the Spirulina. Furthermore I care for the plant every day and check that it’s spread nicely in the basins.That’s important to achieve the optimal growth of the plant. When we harvested the Spirulina, we have to dry and collect it again. Usually Joseph and I share all the tasks and work as a team.
Thriving Green: The nest question is: Why did you decide to join the project of “Thriving Green”? What was your motivation?
Joseph: I work for the mission and the mission looks after the Spirulina project, so this project is basically part of my work. But when they told me about the idea, it entered my heart and I saw it as something that can help me in the future. This work helped me to change my life. I don’t rely on livestock farming anymore and Spirulina contains nutrients like proteins or vitamins and minerals, that other plants, that grow here, don’t have. Additionally I see that I help my community with my work. We are also depending very much on fishing and now Spirulina is an alternative food source for us. It’s very hot here and we burn a lot of nutrients, Spirulina helps us to gain them back. When I eat one spoon of Spirulina, I get the same amount of protein as with 6 eggs! And it’s very cheap! For me personally it helps to widen my point of view because I do have an alternative to fishing and livestock farming to finance my life. Now I can help the project to gain the trust of the locals for the Spirulina-idea. They are often very skeptical about foreign ideas. So it’s good when someone local like me supports the project. And the communication with the Thriving Green members is very transparent, they answer every question very quickly. They also motivated me a lot to be part of their team.
Thriving Green: What about you Thomas? What was your motivation to work with Thriving Green?
Thomas: I work for the project because I saw that it’s good. When the Spirulina team came to us and told us about their idea of growing Spirulina, I thought that it’s a true thing. I really hope, that the project sustains a long time and that the community here trusts Spirulina. Back then I took Spirulina to my home to cook and eat it with my family, relatives and friends and we all enjoyed it. It fits nicely to our traditional food. And because it tasted well and I recognized how much energy I got from it, I decided to join the project.
Thriving Green: That would’ve been my next question. Joseph, do you like the taste of Spirulina? How would you describe it?
Joseph: Yes, I like the taste. It’s very salty but you get used to it.
Thomas: It is „nzuri“! So it’s good! It’s very salty.
Thriving Green: Why do you think Spirulina is good, especially for this region?
Joseph: The main food source of our community are the fishes of the lake. But it depends on the season how much we can fish. When there’re no fishes in the lakes, we need an alternative food source and this can be Spirulina. Because of the heat we need a lot of nutrients and salt that we loose by sweating. And we have a huge problem with malnutrition here. Spirulina also helps us to feed our children who suffer from malnutrition. So, this plant is very important and good for our region here.
Thriving Green: What do you think, Thomas?
Thomas: It’s very good that Thriving Green brought Spirulina to us. We didn’t know about it. Spirulina has very good growing conditions here because the water of the lake is very salty. That’s perfect for this plant.
Thriving Green: Thank you. Now the last question: What do your friends and family say about Spirulina? Do they like and accept it? Do they like the taste?
Joseph: My family likes the taste. I brought our first harvest to my family because we have an old rule here: When you do good, don’t do good to others, do good first where you live. They did accept it and are very happy about it and spread the information. Even the older ones ask for Spirulina nowadays.. We told them about the benefits of Spirulina and they think it’s good. It has improved our lives here in our region.
Thriving Green: And what about you, Thomas? What do your friends and family say about the new food?
Thomas: I also brought it home and gave it to them and to our children because it’s good for them. My relatives took Spirulina with them and eat it on a daily basis. The people here in the village welcome Spirulina and are very happy about it: It’s a good plant!
Thriving Green: Thank you for the interview!