Agriculture, transect walk and focus group discussion in Kishenyi

This morning  (15.1.2024) we had our first brief introduction lecture to sustainable agriculture. We learnt more about such terms as agroecology, climate-smart agriculture and regenerative agriculture. Agriculture accounts for 29% of GDP in developing countries and is the source of employment for about 65% of the population.  Here in Taita area the source of employment in agriculture is about 70%. That is something that we have been able to observe already in the first days in Taita, but today we really had a great opportunity to learn a lot more about agriculture. Agriculture is a significant cause of climate change responsible for 10-12% of human-generated greenhouse gas emissions. As agriculture and climate change are big topics in Taita we went to see farms firsthand and had rewarding conversations about agriculture itself with local farmers. 

Delicious lunch in Kishenyi

How were the local farms in Kishenyi?  

After the lecture we met our dear driver (captain) Ruben who drove us once again safely to our destination which was a local farmhouse in Kishenyi area. In the farm we could observe surroundings and once again learn a lot about agriculture from Mwadime. We started the visit in farm from valley where was also University of Helsinki´s meteorological measurement devices. From the valley we walked uphill. While walking we did an exercise called transect walking. Down from the valley until up to the upmost fields we had seven different observing points. In those observation points we wrote down notes about different interest points  – such as plants they planted, animals, housing, watering systems and also people. The transect walk was a chance to observe both physical and human geographical aspects of the area. The best thing about visiting farms was getting to meet farmers who were so kind and welcoming. They gave us plenty of new knowledge and sugarcanes! 

Goat in Kishenyi

Interactions with local farmers  

After the transect walk we headed to Ngache Dairy Farmers Co-operative Society LTD house.  There we met more farmers with whom we had focus groups discussions. Focus group discussion is one of the qualitative methods used in human geographical research. Conversations that we had with locals were organized in four groups. We got to test our skills interviewing people and leading conversations. Surprisingly hardest things interviewing people were:  

  1. Understanding each other’s properly  
    1. Accent 
    2. Speaking with low tone  
    3. Cultural differences  
    4. Speaking in English which is not mother language of participants 
  2. Not being able to answer all Finnish agriculture related questions since we are geographers, not agroscientist  
  3. Quiet moments  

Best things interviewing people were:  

  1. Learning a lot about agriculture, daily life of farmers, Kenyan agriculture markets and policies and culture and habits itself in Taita.  
  2. Possibility to connect new knowledge to former studies and give them spatial view 
  3. Unique possibility to interact with locals and unite people from different backgrounds  

After the interviews we had a delicious lunch all together in the yard. Big thanks to our chefs!  


After lunch we were invited to see coffee plantations nearby. We learned that Taita was a leading coffee producer until the coffee production and market went down. We also happened to meet a farmer who let us see his farm and animals. After all, we saw a drip irrigation system that a local farmer set up in his field. They were all so welcoming, and it was heartwarming to see how they were so happy to share their knowledge with us. 

Learning more about coffee plantations