Farming replaces whistles and stop-watches for athletics tactician Kemei during Covid-19 lockdown

Friday, May 15th, 2020 00:00 |
Paul Kemei tends to his farm. Photo/PD/ERICSON KIPRONO

Ericsson Kiprono

On March 13 Kenya reported the first confirmed case of coronavirus. Since then, Kenyan sports has suffered and athletes  has not been spared either.

Athletics Kenya (AK) ordered the closure of all athletics camps in the country in a bid to contain the spread of the deadly coronavirus while athletes were also advised to continue training individually and coaches encouraged to continue monitoring individual athletes.

However for Lemotit Athletics Training camp coach Paul Kemei, lack of sports coaching and the lull in the athletics camp has simply meant one thing, farming.

At his Katet Village, Lemotit Location, Kipkelion in Kericho County, the young athletics coach, a legend in his own right , is biding time in his farm tending to his dairy cows and the vegetable farm.

He has not only traded his track and field passion but also rigorously chopsnapier grass, the high yielding fodder crop fed to dairy cattle, at the expense of coaching his athletes at the training camp.

He has a new lease of life! Afterall, farming is a profession like any other and he’s plunged into it full blast in the hope of a bumper harvest not just enough to feed his family and also as a source of income.

The celebrated coach says he retreated to his village on March 13 when the AK ordered the closure of training camps and clubs due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Kemei ventured into agriculture in 2015 on his  six-acre land is producing more than 200 bags of spinach every year while at the same time making a good chunk of money from his dairy farming.

Paul Kemei at his home in Katet Village, Kipkelion, Kericho County. INSET: Kemei tends to his farm. Photo/PD/ERICSON KIPRONO

“I started planting vegetable on two acres but now I have more than six. I’m also a dairy farmer since 2017 and I am hoping by December this year to have 20 cows because I have started building new facilities to accommodate more cows in future,” he told People Sport at his farm.

Proper housing and fodder are important to animals just as they are to humans, the farmer explains, pointing out that the two are vital in maximising a cow’s productivity.

“A cow’s shelter should ensure easy movement, should also be sizeable and stress free,” Kemei says, adding the shelter should also be covered from external weather conditions such as rains, wind and direct sunlight.

“Insufficient supply of fodder is the cause of reduced milk production in most farms especially during droughts,” He notes.

He has stocked more than 10,000 bales of hay. He says the animals also require a constant supply of clean water.

Kemei said that When a farmer buys a dairy cow with no genetic history it is known as foundation stock.

Therefore to get the desirable qualities of a productive cow, the foundation is inseminated with hybrid semen, and the result is an intermediary stock.

The intermediary stock is also inseminated with hybrid semen to produce an appendix stock which when inseminated with hybrid semen produces a pedigree cow.

The pedigree cow, according to animal experts, is a heavy feeder, but a good producer with high adaptive capabilities.

The farm now has 10 lactating dairy cows which give him 100 litres a day which he supplies to restaurants in Kericho and Londiani.

“A farmer must look for the animal’s records. The records also helps a farmer to know the character and productivity of the animal he’s buying,” notes the farmer who now employees six workers.

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