We want the government officials to understand who we are and what we are about. When we plan structures or wells, of course we need their approval. The district commissioner seems eager to help us. He has heard about the work of the church in the area and supports our inclusion of the churches in a central role with this project. We explain that we are on a peace mission at Kapedo. He asks us, “why aren’t you working in Naudo or Loruk? They are worse off than Kapedo.” Personally, I thought Kapedo was bad enough. We assured him that once we had solved the problems in Kapedo, we would certainly look at other areas of conflict.
We stopped by the church center in Nginyang again on our way through. We looked at a site where we could put together a demonstration garden. Our team leaves a bundle of seeds donated from the U.S., along with blankets for babies, some tools, basins, and medicines. A giant welldrilling rig sits in the front yard of the church. It looks like they are going to drill a well so they can have water for building the new highway. Afterward, the well may be turned over to the community. The presence of water brings stability to the community. People settle down. Kids go to school.
Our final stop is in the town to the south, Marigat. Here we stop by the agricultural station. We want to look at the trees that are thriving in this environment. We want to ask a few questions about their recommendations for Kapedo and Nginyang. The agriculture experts are keen on showing us their cows and goats, since that is what the Pokots love. We are of the opinion that maybe the Pokots have enough goats and cows, and maybe that’s the problem. The cows look wonderful and the goats are healthy. They have a lush pasture to feed on. We don’t have that luxury in Akoret, though it would be tempting to try. The agriculture station is able to irrigate right out of the river so water is not a problem. We don’t have that ability. If we put in a borehole well with a solar pump, we might have a little extra water to use for limited agriculture purposes. That’s about it.
We head over to look at the fruit trees. The mango trees are incredibly productive. One tree may have 2000 fruit. Some of the varieties are huge and beautiful. These trees thrive in lowland arid areas and need little maintenance. Our team decides, we are trying mangoes. The citrus trees look promising as well. We will buy some for Nginyang, try a few varieties, and report back to the agriculture station on our findings. Then we’ll buy some more. We want to know which plants might do well with salty water sources, but the experts can’t tell us. We just have to try.
I’m investing about $50 in trees for the project. A beautiful grafted mango that will produce fruit in 2-3 years costs about $1.50. A citrus tree costs about $0.75, and a papaya costs $0.25. I can afford to live dangerously at these prices. I begin thinking about an income generating project involving mango juice or dried mangoes. Easy to transport, ready market abroad, highly nutritious. I’m thinking that I’ll buy the mango trees for families willing to take care of them. When they produce fruit, they give me 10% of the proceeds, they keep 90%. I’ll use the money for additional families. In a few years we develop an industry processing and packaging dried mangoes. It might work. I have seen huge mango trees, highly productive, in sandy, dry soil at Yuka Hospital in western Zambia. The trees were so productive that the local people couldn’t possibly eat all of the fruit, so much of it went to waste. No one had capitalized on this resource and made a product that could be transported to market in the cities or abroad. With the new highway coming through Nginyang and a water system that is functioning in most homes, we could start a home based backyard orchard project for interested and vulnerable families. We’re investing in mangoes.