May 5, 2020
The global pandemic has spread to nearly every country in Africa, and while testing initiatives are being rolled out, the true number of cases and rate of infection is largely unknown. Many governments and health authorities have acted quickly and implemented lockdown measures, but these efforts are also shutting down essential livelihood opportunities (petty trade, markets, stalls, informal enterprises, etc.) and food prices have skyrocketed as a result.
As economic pressures mount and the virus spreads, people will try to escape to their rural homes, however capacities there are already stretched. Erratic rains due to climate change, locusts in East Africa, and the reduction of both overseas remittances and urban-to-rural transfers have reduced food production and livelihood capacities to critical points. The head of the World Food Program is predicting a “hunger pandemic” with wide-scale effects across multiple African countries. Smallholder farmers make up 80% of the continent’s poor, but contribute to 90% of total food production, and KickStart aims to provide these farmers with the tools to thrive.
Border closures, lockdowns, reduced remittances, and curfews are drying up work and incomes, and are disrupting agricultural production and supply chains—which under normal circumstances, struggle to keep markets well stocked and farmers supplied with necessary agricultural inputs (irrigation, quality seeds, fertilizer, etc.) In addition, export bans by major food producers, crashing export revenues, and currency depreciation have already caused shortages on staple imports and price spikes for domestic food crops such as millet, sorghum, and maize. Rising food prices will contribute to lower purchasing power among both rural and urban consumers, requiring immediate action to increase local food production capacities. Irrigation offers an immediate solution to these acute pressures, providing income and food security while ensuring long-term community resilience.
Providing tools to increase food production independently of climate and global supply chains will be critical to avoiding protracted famine. Given this outlook, KickStart is proud to report the completion of the lowest-cost human-powered pump available, the Starter Pump—offering unprecedented and scalable affordability.
Each pump feeds 20 people per year with necessary fruits & vegetables.
KickStart remains committed to enabling farmers with the tools to thrive, forging a pathway to greater food security and resilience for the future.
KickStart is adapting operations to meet the challenges affecting the most vulnerable rural communities. Together, we can ensure that smallholder farmers…
1. Access our lowest cost, easiest to use, most portable Starter Pump to begin harvesting immediately & sustainably throughout the year.
2. Access digital training materials for how to use & maintain their pump to maximize their impacts (planting strategies, crop storage & water/irrigation management).
April 22, 2020
Dear KickStart Supporter, Partner & Friend,
I hope that you and your loved ones are staying safe and healthy during these extraordinary times.
As of March 20th, COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in over 50% of the countries that KickStart operates across sub-Saharan Africa. The number of cases on the continent is rapidly increasing and scientists are gravely concerned about the consequences for countries with fragile healthcare systems, populations with immune suppressed conditions, and city infrastructures that make social distancing problematic, if not impossible.
As a result, we will be rescheduling the Learning Journey to visit our headquarters and farmers in Nairobi to June 2021. You can also still register for the Seeding Innovation event on April 28, as we are working to transform this discussion on rural poverty into a digital experience that can engage our community around the world.
As we are confronted with an unprecedented pandemic, our entire team is urgently making arrangements to ensure that we do our part to mitigate the spread of this virus and educate our farmer networks. The factories in China that mass-manufacture our MoneyMaker pumps were closed for the last two months, heavily disrupting KickStart’s supply chain. China is now emerging from the crisis, signaling to the world that there is an end in sight, and our factories are getting ready to resume production.
In Africa by contrast, the crisis is just beginning. As many people across the world feel, there is a growing sense of fear as governments close schools, offices, and national borders, disrupting lives, business and travel. KickStart’s work will become ever more challenging, even as we focus first on ensuring the safety of our staff, their families, and our farmer community.
In East Africa, people are coming off the worst locust plague in 70 years, and in multiple countries the increasingly volatile weather patterns continue to disrupt rain-fed harvests. As cities and transport routes are closed down for containment, people will likely retreat to the rural areas, straining major food and supply chains. However, with our help farmers with irrigation will be there, independent of the rains, to feed themselves and their neighbors.
It is times like these that we must act as a global community to provide relief where we can, and KickStart remains dedicated to helping farming families with new technologies and new opportunities. With your inspiring support, we are better equipped to respond to the devastating locust plague and COVID-19, to begin livelihood intervention and avert the eminent nutrition and food insecurity in Africa.
Now more than ever, your kindness comes at a critical moment to serve those who need it most. On behalf of our entire team at KickStart, thank you for uplifting farming families. We hope to make you proud in our efforts as we navigate these global crises.
Very best wishes and stay safe!
Martin Fisher, Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer
Peter Juma, President & Chief Operating Officer