Saturday, July 7, 2012

Fertilizer, Seed, and Warehousing - Oh My!

Lately, I've been using a lot of sports metaphors when talking about my work -- particularly in regard to my level of preparation/ability.

As a member of "Team Sensible," the non-running club of my organization, sports metaphors are probably the least appropriate for me.  Team Sensible was founded during the fall when a co-worker and I realized that every house on our compound had a half-marathoner or marathoner residing within.  We also heard that, in our sister operations in Rwanda, the entire expatriate team ran at least a half-marathon in honor of the country director's birthday.  Some of them even joined him for his full quest - 33 miles for his 33rd birthday.  Around these anecdotes, you won't hear me using sports metaphors - none of that "no pain, no gain" crap either.  For this kind of thing, I prefer history - Pheidippides expiring before the magistrates after running the very first marathon, for example.

But anyway.  The metaphors I've been leaning heavily on are much more failure-based (or Cinderella stories?  Well, hopefully...)

Punching above my weight.
Batting out of my league.
Swimming out of my depth.

When I started working here, we were serving somewhere on the order of 24,000 farmers in Kenya as we wrapped up the 2011 season.  Turns out, a lot can happen in a year, cause we're now looking at a number between 110,000 and 140,000 farmers for 2013.  That doesn't equate exactly 1 to 1 in terms of how many acres our farmers plant -- our average in Western Kenya is close-ish to 0.8 acres per member, but that number is climbing.

All this to say: I never really expected to have the opportunity to engage the seed sector, the fertilizer industry, or import companies.  Just to give you a rough estimate of what I'm talking about, let's take a look at some of these (crazy!) numbers:

Our moderate estimate for 2013 has us requiring about eleven-and-a-half thousand metric tons of fertilizer (50.6 million pounds).  If you break that out into delivery trucks (at an average of 10-tons per truck), you get about 96 trucks every day for 12 days (2 Kenyan work-weeks).  In case you're not feeling nervous yet, remember that everything is hand-loaded onto those trucks by casual laborers.  Here's one young bwana (man) carrying planting fertilizer onto a truck at our main warehouse for the 2012 season.

That's 75kgs (165lbs).  And he's going to do this for several hours.  Whoa.
Good that I got that degree in Russian politics.  Applicable, huh?

No comments:

Post a Comment