The Power Hungry Podcast

Jusper Machogu: Kenyan Subsistence Farmer

July 18, 2023 Robert Bryce & Juspur Machogu Season 1 Episode 187
The Power Hungry Podcast
Jusper Machogu: Kenyan Subsistence Farmer
Show Notes Transcript

Jusper Machogu lives in Kisii, Kenya, where he and his family grow corn and other crops on a one-acre plot of land. In this episode, Jusper, who writes about his daily life on Substack, explains how little electricity his family uses, (less than 200 kilowatt-hours per year), why Africa “cannot develop without fossil fuels,” what climate activists get wrong, the soaring cost of fertilizer, and why if farmers like him don’t have “access to fertilizer, we are doomed.” (Recorded July 11, 2023.) 

Robert Bryce 0:04 
Hi everyone, welcome to the power hungry Podcast. I'm Robert Bryce. On this podcast we're talking about energy, power, innovation and politics. And I'm pleased to welcome Jesper Machado Gu. He is a farmer in Kenya. And we're going to talk about farming in Kenya energy, power and many other things in Africa, Jesper, welcome to the power hungry podcast.

Jusper Machogu 0:25 
Thank you very much robot.

Robert Bryce 0:28 
Now, I didn't warn you. I weren't some guests. I didn't warn you. But to guests on this podcast introduce themselves. So I've said you're a farmer that you live in Kenya, but please, if you imagine you've arrived somewhere you don't know anyone. And you're you're asked to introduce yourself, please, by all means. Introduce yourself. You have about 60 seconds go.

Jusper Machogu 0:47 
Okay, okay. My name is Death by my target from Kenya. I'm an agricultural engineer, and also a farmer. Sorry.

Robert Bryce 1:00 
Yeah, sure. Go ahead.

Jusper Machogu 1:01 
Okay, okay. Okay. Do I start afresh? I'm sorry. Can I start afresh?

Robert Bryce 1:09 
No, just keep going. That's okay. You're doing fine.

Jusper Machogu 1:12 
Okay, okay. Okay, so my name is Jesper Machado from Kenya. I'm a farmer and agricultural engineer, and our fossil fuel advocate, especially in Africa. And I'm really happy to be here with you, Robert Bryce. Thank you.

Robert Bryce 1:29 
So tell me you said agricultural engineer, what does that mean?

Jusper Machogu 1:34 
Um, okay. Like I have a degree, a bachelor's degree in agricultural engineering that basically farm structures, renewable energy, that's part of the curriculum, the funny thing, then farm power in machinery, etc.

Robert Bryce 1:52 
And where do you live in Kenya.

Jusper Machogu 1:55 
I live in a place called kissy kisses towards Lake Victoria. So that's where I live currently. Although we also have another farm in the Rift Valley. We also do filming over there. So basically, I live in kissing.

Robert Bryce 2:11 
And we're in what? So I don't know, my, my Kenyan geography. I'm looking at up here as we're as we're talking here. So

Jusper Machogu 2:20 
yeah, near Lake Victoria, near Lake Victoria.

Robert Bryce 2:24 
And so what is the population of kisi?

Jusper Machogu 2:27 
I think right now we are something like 2 million, 3 million.

Robert Bryce 2:32 
Uh huh. Oh, so it's a pretty big it's a pretty big city then. So you're,

Jusper Machogu 2:36 
you're not a city basically like a town. But I live in the rural areas. So. Okay.

Robert Bryce 2:43 
And so I'm looking at Nairobi. So it's kisi is northwest of Nairobi bike. So how long would it take you to get to Nairobi from where you are?

Jusper Machogu 2:52 
About four hours? Three and a half?

Robert Bryce 2:56 
Four hours driving? Yeah. Okay. And so what do you grow you I follow you on substack. And by the way, I should mention that Jesper is on substack Jesper Machiel That's JUSPERMACH Oh, gee, oh, gee, you not I know from watching your videos that you grow corn whether you call it maize, what else do you grow? Then on how many acres? How many? How many hectares?

Jusper Machogu 3:23 
Okay, people over here have small farms. Basically like people like a family has got about a household has got about half an acre of land. But in other places if we go to the Rift Valley people have big tracts of land over there we have about five acres of land that about two hectares right so yeah, we usually do maize because Mrs. Our staple food in Kenya also people in kisi do vegetables avocados, bananas and finger millet our entity usually for commercial purposes like we sell it to the factory, the factory process that processes it and then sells it to international markets and bits of like local a bit

Robert Bryce 4:11 
what do you make the most money on you personally on your on your your land in kisi you grow maize? Yeah, okay, so Is that Is that what you is that where you make your money then? I mean, because farming is a hard business I know some farmers here in the US this is not this is not an easy industry and what regardless of what you're growing what, but as Mays profitable, who do you sell most of what you grow? Do you eat most of what you grow? Tell me walk me through the economics.

Jusper Machogu 4:38 
Okay. Basically, most people over here do maize farming for like sustainable living, that's what they live on. So like an example we have estimates, okay, we grow maize, we harvest it and then we mostly consume it and then maybe sell a little bit to our neighbors or local markets. We buy with follow up and stuff like that. So our maze farming is not for, like making lots of money making us rich. It's usually we just living by the day.

Robert Bryce 5:12 
So is it fair to say that you're, you're doing subsistence farming? I don't mean. Okay, so would you take that as a derogatory term? Or is that just the right, right, right description?

Jusper Machogu 5:25 
I think that the right description, because that's, that's what we usually do subsistence farming.

Robert Bryce 5:30 
And so you farm, you said, about one acre, half a hectare there in kisi? And is that enough? You can grow enough corn for you and your family on that property to sustain yourself for the year?

Jusper Machogu 5:42 
Usually, yes. But most people don't. Because like, if you are a family of six people, that's not going to be enough. Most of the time we have is around two tons per acre of maize, compared to the US 11 tonnes per acre per hectare, sorry. So two tonnes per hectare, that's about one ton per acre. So little, and that usually cannot run like a note certain most families, most households, so they have to buy more maize, actually, in Kenya right now most people are like our country is importing maize from other countries. And that's not a good thing, because of course of other issues that we're going to discuss, but mostly fertilizers.

Robert Bryce 6:29 
So by importing maize from other countries, and it's that it depresses the domestic price, which is bad for you,

Jusper Machogu 6:38 
actually, because like we cannot produce enough milk to feed everyone in the country, we have to, like source some from outside countries from other countries.

Robert Bryce 6:49 
Right. So let me let me back up for just a minute. Just get a few more details. I know, you're talking to me, obviously on on zoom here. So you have electricity. But I also just looked up I, I track electricity issues pretty closely. In fact, I just wrote a piece today and published it about what's happening in Africa and Kenya has 53 million people, the average electricity consumption in Kenya is 223 kilowatt hours per year, per capita, the world average is 3500. In the US, it's 12,000 kilowatt hours per capita per year. So the average American uses more electricity in a week than the average Kenyan uses in a year. Just for some perspective there. So obviously, you have electricity service. Is it reliable? Do you who provides it? How, what what, from where do you get your power in your in your home? And how are you powering our conversation here?

Jusper Machogu 7:45 
Okay, so we have about, I think, last year, we were at 80%, connected to the grid to the national grid or 75. Right. And I think we may be 85% connected to the grid. And that's a good thing compared to other African nations. So mostly, okay, we have Kenya power and lightning company, they supply the electricity, we have another company, which Cara, which usually buys electricity from independent power producers, or it does produce itself, some of it. So they buy the electricity, they supply to kplc kplc supplies to us. So that's how we get our electricity. And it's okay. It's a good thing that we have electricity, but we consume so little of it, because of course, poverty, poor people. So giving poor people electricity is not a great thing at all. It's a good thing. But it's not a great thing. It's not going to make a big difference in our economic, economic, economic, sorry. So it will

Robert Bryce 8:55 
let me know. Why is that because you just don't you can't use another if you don't you don't you look, you can't afford it. What is the problem?

Jusper Machogu 9:03 
Okay, electricity, actually, electricity in Kenya is quite expensive. I think 0.19 That's like 19 cents per kilowatt hour compared to the US, I think about 1514 around there. China, I think 10 cents, and that night for five cents. So we have expensive electricity, despite the fact that most people are connected to the grid. And then I think the problem is, we have like our government is chasing wind and solar, especially. We our government markets itself out there as the country with the largest wind plants in Africa, as if that's a good thing. So the problem with pull up people having electricity is the only thing we use electricity for is judging our phones, listening to radio, watching TV, and lighting only that, for instance, in My family we have up we have six people, six people. Each and everyone has got a phone, we have a TV and some lighting. And we use about 12 to 16 kilowatt hours per month. That's all little compared to an American refrigerator, for instance. So

Robert Bryce 10:20 
if I'm sorry, I just want to make sure I'm hearing you just for because I'm, you know, I'd like I, you know, I'm kind of crazy about numbers, right, I dig deep into the numbers. So you're saying that your, your six people in your house and Cassie, and all together, you consume 12 to 16 kilowatt hours

Jusper Machogu 10:40 
per month? Yes. And most of these are very,

Robert Bryce 10:44 
there's a very, very small amount of power, you know, this.

Jusper Machogu 10:46 
Yeah. And most people around here, they don't use that much electricity, because like, Okay, our bulbs and example, our lighting as good, I think, seven watts, the bulbs seven watts, they're, they're rated seven watts. So that's, we just need lighting and charging phones. And that doesn't consume much electricity. For instance, my phone consumes about one kilowatt hour per year. So it all makes sense,

Robert Bryce 11:15 
right? And so what is the solution there? Then follow up on the electricity, I'll come back to the farming and find the hydrocarbons in a little bit. But what would you if you could what would you use? How would you use more electricity? Would you get a refrigerator than wood? Because that's one of the other things people buy? As I understand it. Look, I grew up I've been I've been incredibly privileged in my life, right? I never knew a living without a refrigerator. Right? My grandmother did. Right. But I've always had a refrigerator since I was a kid. I have one now it would you buy a refrigerator? If this was affordable, and you could afford the electricity? What would you buy to use more electricity if you if you and your family could?

Jusper Machogu 11:58 
Okay, so let me let me start with the solution. Sure. Yeah. So what we need, what we need is energy. And that energy isn't going to come from just electricity, as most people advertise that energy is going to come from fossil fuels. Because like if we want to power our tractors, we don't have tractors, but we're going to have tractors, we're going to need tractors, because our population, most of our population, I think about 70% of our population, they are directly employed by agriculture, about 80 85%, and our livelihood, from agriculture. So one of the easiest ways actually living in Africa, in Sub Saharan Africa in Africa as a whole 60 70%. So one of the easiest ways to improve these people's lives is by improving agriculture. How do we do that? What we need is to power our our, okay, what we need is tractors, so that we can tell more than what we need to specialize as fertilizer should be number one, because like, right now, the amount of fertilizer that we use is so little compared to what others use. For instance, most Kenyan farmers use about 20 to 30 kilos of fertilizer or hotter. In other places, if you go to other places, I think in if you go to a place like Uganda, they use about the same 20 in other places, Botswana 16 kilo kilos per chair, by annually, if you go to a place like the US you use 120 kilos per hectare, if you go to Europe 150 If you go to India 250 If you go to China, 350 360 kilos per hectare per year. So what we actually need is we need for access to fertilizer, synthetic fertilizer, and that's going to change our life completely a lot like we will deliver need aid. So the two things. First question,

Robert Bryce 14:08 
will you mentioned that part on the fertilizer I saw one of the things that what's intriguing about your substack is how often you use video to show what's happening in your life and one of the ones that you did just recently showed the size of the maize that you're growing with fertilizer versus the ones that you're that are not and your your yields are four times higher with fertilizer than without something like that.

Jusper Machogu 14:32 
Usually two three, it can go up to four because like we use solely to

Robert Bryce 14:37 
Baja and so you identify on your sub stack as a pro fossil fuel. And let me see your said you're a pro fossil fuels and a climate skeptic let's take climate skeptic last big or first rather because I want to you know this is something that to me is I mean it's kind of a wonder of the modern world right that you are On substack, that I'm even talking to you now that we're both are on this platform that I've been a journalist my whole career and I've just landed on substack because it was the right place for me to write. And for you, it was this ability to get an international audience from a place in rural Kenya, which is pretty remarkable by itself, right? And just mainly using your phone, am I right? Or using a laptop? Or just your phone is only as how you're

Jusper Machogu 15:27 
selling my phone? Is your is your cell phone? My

Robert Bryce 15:29 
phone is your portal to the world. Right? So I mean, that by itself, it's almost magic, right to even think about it in this way. Right? That is incredible technology with very little with very little spending on your part. I mean, let's be frank. So, but but let's talk about that climate skeptic, why do you why do you identify as a climate skeptic?

Jusper Machogu 15:50 
Because I came to realize most of what climate scientists out there, climate scientists in quotes, in quotes, so what they usually say, okay, the alarming the world, the telling people an example they telling people, Europeans are getting worse. They're getting intense. It's not true droughts. So like, Okay, I think last year there was there was a drought. This year, there was a drought in Kenya. And there was a lot of talk about what climate change has done in the Horn of Africa, in Kenya, stuff like that. They were showing donkeys dying. What they don't show people is go back a few years, go back 100 years, 200 years back, and you read reports. So there was a report back in, I think 80s 80s Yeah. So the report had like, okay, it was one of, I think, a student in Nairobi University, a PhD student, he was doing a thesis on droughts in K in in Kenya specifically. And he was saying, like, if you go back to 1910 1890s, there was a drought and people were selling their kids so that they can they could afford food. So what caused that drought? Like people need to ask themselves? Such simple question. So I've been a climate skeptic for some time since I read the fake invisible catastrophe, catastrophe, and threats of doom by Patrick Moore. I've been a climate skeptic. Since then, I was by there was a green Greenpeace member. I thought the world was dying. And I thought you are cancer in this world. Like, we were doing a lot of damage to the world. And I came to realize like after reading Patrick Moore, I came to realize it was all alive. And I've learned so much on climate that I didn't know and what is the usually on Twitter is people spreading propaganda propaganda that they don't know is all lies, like, we this the best time for human to be like this the healthiest, this the fed the most fed, the most educated, the longest, like we're living the longest in human history from 35 years in 1800. To today, 72 years old. So like, this is the best time for humans to be alive. And all of that is thanks to fossil fuels, the fossil fuels climate skeptics are saying we need to do away with we need to stop using fossil fuels. It it has made the world to be this way to be safe.

Robert Bryce 18:33 
So why do you think well, let me ask this question, because it was one of the last question that I was gonna tee up for you. But I interviewed a climate activist on this on my podcast, Bill McKibben. We haven't aired the podcast yet. I know him. But I've followed his work for a while I've debated him before. And he agreed to come on the podcast, I think pretty reluctantly. But without discussing what I talked about with him, if you had a chance to sit down with him for, say, 20 minutes or 30 minutes or even five minutes, what would you say to him?

Jusper Machogu 19:05 
I think I need fossil fuels. And that will explain in length why we need fossil fuels.

Robert Bryce 19:13 
But so why do you think he's Why do you think he and people like him? are so opposed to this idea? Why do you think that they? Why? I'll put it to you this way, because it's kind of how I see it is that for people for him and people like him? Well, the climate catastrophe is so much more important in the future than people now I guess that's how I would condense what he says. But why if you could guess why do you think that he and people like him have this worldview that people like you shouldn't or don't need or shouldn't use fossil fuels? How do you how do you think why do you think their worldview is the way it is?

Jusper Machogu 19:53 
I think some of these people, okay, I'm not talking about him specifically, but most of these people they are maltose Ian's they hate humanity, they hate people. And the fact that people care about the environment more than they care about people is is just alarming itself by itself. So what we should be after is like we should focus, our debate, our arguments, our policies around human flourishing, humans first. Everything else should come second. So I know for, for a fact, many, many for many, many years, the West has been worried about Africa developing in China developing and that's not a good thing, because a good example is for the phosphate rock in Morocco. Yeah, we only have that 70% is coming from Morocco, we only have that I think 75%. So people are worried like, once Africa develops, we're going to be in big trouble. Once Africa starts you start using its own fossil fuels going to be in trouble. Like, there's a lot of multiculturalism going on throughout the world. And it's not good. That's what they're basing their arguments on the climate and not human flourishing.

Robert Bryce 21:17 
So we'll let me read back to you what I hear I think you're saying Jesper. Let me just see if I'm understanding you, right? That there's a movement in the West, the Western countries want to keep Africa down. Because if Africa rises, the West won't be as powerful is that was that a different way of saying, what's your what's your what's your view? What's your views? Yes. So let me just be devil's advocate here for a minute and say, Okay, well, okay, here's just for matovu. And he's saying all the stuff about hydrocarbon fossil fuels, I call them hydrocarbons, because I don't like the term fossil fuels. But that, oh, well, he probably just works for Exxon Mobil, or he works for the oil companies, or he's just a mouthpiece is just convenient for him to make these claims, and you know, that he doesn't represent, you know, anybody but himself. He doesn't represent Africa. He's just talking, you know, so I'm being I'm being provocative here. But how would you reply to that? I mean, you know, does this I mean, would it make him mad? I mean, do you? How do you How would you reply to critics, because this is something that, you know, the climate activists in the West, immediately anyone who says something in favor of hydrocarbons? Oh, well, you must work for Exxon Mobil. So do you work for Exxon Mobil?

Jusper Machogu 22:34 
Okay, so the way I would respond to that is, I, I've actually, I think I've done a lot to show people that I don't work for Exxon Mobil. Model, sorry. So for instance, I have an internship program Net Zero, sustainable internship in Kenya, in rural Kenya, I'm inviting people so that they can experience what it is like to live without, without fossil fuel. What it is like to do without energy to live without energy. So I want them to come experience what it is like to live without energy. They're not going to like it, most of them, especially those saying, Africa doesn't need fossil fuels. So I try to show people like I go to the river. Okay, a good example, last January in January, we were fetching water, one to two kilometers away. And you carry water, like you carry a bucket, a bucket on your head, one kilometer away. So I can only imagine like, okay, a good example is also right now, in Kenya people have they have motorcycles. A few people have motorcycles. And that's like our main mode of transport. Right, especially in rural areas. So they have transformed our economy, that's for sure. Like, we used to go harvest maize, about two kilometers away, and we will carry it on our heads all the way home. But nowadays, we have motorcycles they do that work easily, like what a motorcycle car is in maybe i It carries around 150 kilos to 200 kilos, in one trip and one trip, it takes like five minutes to and fro. I will take that I will carry like 60 kilos, 50 kilos, all the way home. And it was like I have to do it three trips or four trips. So like, it's very clear machines, they amplify and expand our capabilities, that's for sure. So yeah, that's how I would respond to them. Come experience it. come live with us. How you like it.

Robert Bryce 24:51 
You know, we'll thank you. I you know when I'm being provocative here, but I liked the way you answered that and I've seen I've seen your videos where you're carrying Seeing wood and the the the difficulty that you have just and I was particularly interested in one piece that you published recently and you talked about having to walk I think it was where you were searching for the a cow that had been stolen and you walked all day, right? So we do live, I'll ask the question, do you have a motorcycle? Do you personally own one or your family?

Jusper Machogu 25:25 
I don't have my family doesn't but a few people in my village do. So how much money and a livelihood?

Robert Bryce 25:34 
How much money do you make in a year? Just for?

Jusper Machogu 25:38 
Um, okay. My family makes around. I'd say. Okay, I don't know. Okay, let me let me just give you the figures.

Robert Bryce 25:49 
Okay. And tell me first about your Tell me about your family. So you mentioned there, six of us. So, if you don't mind before, because I'm asking you very personal questions, but um, you know, this is what I do, right? But how many six people in your family so who is in your family who are living in the home that you live in? In kisi? Okay,

Jusper Machogu 26:06 
so my dad, my mom, and I'm the firstborn. I have a sister and two other brothers. So that makes it? Yeah.

Robert Bryce 26:20 
And your siblings in it. And none of you are married right now? No. And how old? Are you just for?

Jusper Machogu 26:27 
28? Uh huh. Very old,

Robert Bryce 26:31 
old man. Well, obviously, I'm gonna be 63 In a few days. So you're a young man compared to me so. Okay, so and so all six of you then the do you all work on in the farming and on your on your land?

Jusper Machogu 26:47 
No, not really. Okay. My sister. She's not at home. She's venturing she's into business. Although she hasn't really started. My bros. Are they currently in school? One is in they actually. One is joining University very soon. Another one is in university. One more year left. Before you complete.

Robert Bryce 27:08 
Yeah. And what about your parents? What do they do?

Jusper Machogu 27:12 
They do farming. We also have a small shop, a tiny shop. But mostly we do farming. That's how we earn a livelihood.

Robert Bryce 27:20 
And what is the shop that you sell something your mom, we usually

Jusper Machogu 27:24 
sell basic commodities of sugar, stuff like that. Usual?

Robert Bryce 27:32 
Uh huh. So then, okay, so back to my other question. And so about how much do you how much money do you make per month or per year? How do you could you calculate from from you're a subsistence farmer. So some a lot of the what you grow, you eat, right? But you also sell some part of that so that you can buy sugar, salted cetera, you know, shoes, clothing, etc. So can you give me an idea what that income looks like?

Jusper Machogu 27:59 
Okay, we make because, okay, renting, okay, let's say I'm going to lose land. Because that's what most people do they lose land outside Casey, because Casey is, I'd say populated like we, we are, because like this place is Green has got plenty of rainfall. It has good, nice weather condition. So most people live around here. They don't want to live in other places, and it's very peaceful and stuff. So in a year, I'd say we make around 300 to 600, USD. prophets, prophets. Now. Most farmers, they make less than that. We have a few farmers, because like I'm talking about this, if you go to elsewhere, an example in our farm in the Rift Valley, we make around 800 to like 1500 per year.

Robert Bryce 29:01 
And is that because you're in is that because you're leasing that land? Do I mean, are you able to to cultivate that land in the Rift Valley, as well as in Casy? How do you manage that?

Jusper Machogu 29:12 
Okay, in the Rift Valley, we have a few people with tractors, so that really reduces the cost completely. And also, we use herbicides, sometimes farmers over there because like, if you have 10 acres of land, how are you going to do weeding in 10 acres of land? It's undoable. So some people do use herbicides. And we also use herbicides and that reduces the the expenses by a big margin. And then over there, people use a lot of fertilizer, they use maybe 60 to 100 kilos of fertilizer per year. So that's a good good figure and they generate they generate more from the farms,

Robert Bryce 29:56 
right? And so If you could afford, what would attract or cost you what, what types of tractors? Was there? Are you? Or what brand of tractors are common in Kenya? Is it a Ford tractor? Or what are the ones that most people use their?

Jusper Machogu 30:13 
Over the over here? We have the India we have case we have Massey Ferguson? And what have I think those ones?

Robert Bryce 30:24 
So if American brands? Yeah, American

Jusper Machogu 30:27 
brands? I don't know if I don't know if this is American maybe? Is it Chinese? Or?

Robert Bryce 30:35 
It's a it's a, it's American. So how much would it how much would attract her cost then if you wanted to buy one?

Jusper Machogu 30:44 
Because I think 20,000 between 15,000 to 20,000. USD, USD.

Robert Bryce 30:54 
Right. So let's just for you, that's completely is that even imaginable that you could have that much money?

Jusper Machogu 31:00 
No, I cannot. I cannot. I cannot. Most families cannot. Actually, I don't know anybody around here who can afford that tractor? Comfortably?

Robert Bryce 31:14 
So you know what, it's, it's a little sobering. I mean, it's a joy to talk to you. Because you're one you're so fresh, and kind of, you know, you're very engaged in what you're trying to do. But do you feel I mean, you said, you're 28. And I see how hard you work. Do you feel like you're I mean, how long can you do it, I guess is one of the things that's occurred to me? Like, I'm an old man, right? I'm old, 30 some odd years old and 35 years older than you are the idea of being able to work in the field and be able to do the kind of physical labor you're doing. I don't think I could do it for more than an hour, maybe even 15 or 20 minutes. Are you concerned as you get to be older that your body won't be able to do the physical labor? I mean, this is one of the because this is how you grow your food. It's really on human sweat and human horsepower that you're using to grow the food do you worry about as you get older, that you won't be able to do it anymore? And who's going to take care of you? How do you think about that?

Jusper Machogu 32:07 
Okay, are over here. Most people are worried about having food today and tomorrow. We don't have to worry about 40 years. 50 years down the line. So I think that answers your question.

Robert Bryce 32:24 
How old is your dad?

Jusper Machogu 32:27 
My dad is 53.

Robert Bryce 32:30 
But he's worked he works in he works on the farm with you. He works in the field.

Jusper Machogu 32:34 
Not that much is is he's lazy in he's lazy, but

Robert Bryce 32:41 
now we need to Dad, what's your dad appreciate you saying that? He's lazy man. You're not gonna show this podcast to him or you. You're not gonna say Hey, Dad, look at what I'm telling you here on this respecting you on the power hungry podcast.

Jusper Machogu 32:56 
Okay, but but we have people we have people around here. 60 years old. 50 years old working in their farms still. Like it's mind boggling. It's It's unimaginable.

Robert Bryce 33:08 
But that's your option. You have an option. It's work it's work or it's work or starve to death. Yeah. I mean, is it that is I put it That's my line. But is that is it that simple?

Jusper Machogu 33:21 
It's that simple. If you don't work you don't eat

Robert Bryce 33:28 
so what else would you say? I mean, you know you've I travel a lot I'm a very fortunate man. I you know and but have you ever left Kenya? Have you ever been outside of Kenya if you've been denied how often do you go to Nairobi? What tell me about what other things you've done in your in your life? Okay.

Jusper Machogu 33:48 
When I was in university, we used to have this. We used to

Robert Bryce 33:53 
wear it and where did you go to university by the way? I'm sorry, where did you go to university? Okay,

Jusper Machogu 33:58 
okay. So I've studied in Kenya, in the Rift Valley. Okay, we have H buffer system, eight years in primary school, four years in secondary in four or five years in college. So, eight, eight plus four. I studied in kisi. Locally, I was walking to school in the morning and evening and coming back home during the usual milking going to fetch water some other times. Some other times helping around our farm. So okay, after that, I went to university in a place called Nakuru. So in the Rift Valley, I studied agricultural engineering for five years and during that time, I had the opportunity to travel around the country. We are like we have been to various places usually field work, because like we need lots of experience as agricultural engineers, visiting mostly cleaning big sites like we will visit. We have hospitals in Kenya, who, which the hospitals use? Human excretes that's the right word. Right. They used human experts to make biogas. So we visit them. We I've been to Gong, we have wind turbines over there, wind generation. So I've been there. We haven't been to a solar farm in Kenya, but we have been to other places. So, back in June in university, we traveled a lot. So that was a good opportunity for me to learn and travel.

Robert Bryce 35:42 
And so I'm just looking at the map here because I don't know my African geography very well. But Nakuru is almost directly east of kisi. And it's, it's north north of north of Nairobi. So just for people if they're thinking about Kenya, and where, and where Kenya is. What's interesting as well, to me about what's happening in Africa now, and you're on Kenya is on the eastern part of the Horn of Africa, along with Somalia and Tanzania. Massive, massive gas discoveries that have occurred in Africa over the last few years, Tanzania, Mozambique. These are these are just staggeringly large gas deposits, most of them offshore from what I understand. And I wrote a piece recently about Angola. And the fact that the American government wasn't set wasn't not allowing, or rather was lending money to Angola. So they could build a solar project when and my point was, why aren't they lending money? So Angola can use its natural gas? So what do you think about have you thought much? Or do you know much about the natural gas deposits in Africa? Because these discoveries and ExxonMobil has been one of the companies that has found gas a huge amounts of gas offshore Africa, what do you what do you know about the gas deposits there? And what what should Africa be doing with regard to those deposits?

Jusper Machogu 37:03 
Okay, I know Africa is mostly unexplored, mostly unexplored even in Kenya, we have I think we have all deposits somewhere. But we usually don't hear much about it, because I don't know how. Anyway, I don't know much about it, because the government is doing a lot of work to ensure that with it isn't I don't know, what's going on over there. I don't know if they drink the oil. tallow oil is over there. I don't know what is really happening. So the problem the Okay, the problem we have in Africa is we drilling our oil and selling it outside the country. In Kenya, for instance, outside the continent in Kenya, for instance, we importing oil all the way from the Middle East, right doesn't make sense. When there is oil in Nigeria, that is oil in Egypt, in South Sudan. A few like South Sudan is in East Africa. Like we wait a rebasing oil all the way from Middle East. Like he doesn't make sense. So there is a lot of I don't know the right word to use, but whatever the West is doing to us is is not good. So recently, a good example recently, I think there were people from Germany, the German government, they came over to Kenya, they went to Namibia, they were preaching, oh, we need to we want to help you guys. And we're going to set up a hydrogen plant in Kenya and in Namibia.

Robert Bryce 38:36 
So I saw this headline. Yeah, right. Yeah. The reason they

Jusper Machogu 38:41 
doing that is because German is has, like, done a lot of harm on its energy, like they, they they chasing the green energy. They. Yeah, so solar and wind. And that doesn't make sense completely. So a good example, solar works. In Germany, it works only 12% of the time, in even in Africa. 25% of the time. So yesterday, yesterday, there was her name is Inga Anderson. I think she worked for the UN. She's the Kenyan sports lady. So she will she went to Morocco. She visited Morocco. There's a big solar power plant that has been installed, I think 400 to 600 megawatts. So she was saying like, Morocco has done a lot of good work, but it's not good work. Anyway, it's all crazy. So what the West is doing is in good. The

Robert Bryce 39:41 
green, this has been called Green colonialism and carbon imperialism green Imperialism is that. Do any of those phrases make sense to you how you said it's not good and I agree, but if there is a vagina Ramachandran has called it to what a dream colonialism is. That is Is that? Does that phrase make sense to you?

Jusper Machogu 40:03 
It makes sense. Because like the Okay, what, okay, we have big problems in Africa. And those problems have been researched. And they have been listed by the UN, because the UN does a lot of good work on that. So they have these 17 Sustainable Development Goals. And they ensuring that if like developing the developing world is going to develop, they need to try and find a way to work on a long distance, sustainable development goals. And once you look at it, you will realize this, all of these sustainable development goals, they are tied to climate change, like if and how if we want to beat poverty, it's tied to climate change, we have to do it sustainably sustainably means climate change, if we want to bid hunger sustainably. So all of that to realize that all of that is tied to climate change. That means we don't use fossil fuels because fossil fuels are bad for the environment for the climate. And that's not a good thing. We cannot develop miners using our fossil fuels, we cannot. And even if Okay, people are giving us loans, they wanted to develop ABC, when we have our own oil, when we have our own natural gas deposits doesn't make sense at all. And those loans, usually they called debt traps, they just trapping us so that we owe the wealth for very many coming years, very many years down the line, we'll still be paying their debt.

Robert Bryce 41:40 
Well, and that's the part that to me was just so outrageous. And I will use that word about the Angola deal with the Export Import Bank was that Angola is a member of OPEC, and enormous oil and gas resources, they should be using them. And instead the President Biden went to a a an extremely expensive fundraiser for a big environmental group, the League of Conservation Voters in Washington, DC, and bragged about the fact that they're lending $900 million to Angola to build a solar project. And I thought, Man, the world has gone completely crazy. I mean, it's just gone nuts.

Jusper Machogu 42:19 
And the funny thing, Robert, the funny thing is these these people, the countries that preach climate change, Net Zero, these are the countries that use a lot of fossil fuels. For instance, the US uses about 18 to 20 million barrels of oil per day, right? If you come to Africa, we use 30 to 4 million barrels of oil per day. If you go to China, something like 12 If you go to India, 5.2 That's a lot. So Africa is down there. In East Africa. 470 million people, almost half a billion people, we use solid, I think 600 To 700,000 600,000 to 700,000 barrels of oil per day. So the US has only trending 330 million people. It doesn't make sense. So how do you even start coming to African preaching? Green energy, solar and wind how

Robert Bryce 43:16 
it is remarkable disparity. And I mentioned the electricity disparity, 200 kilowatt hours per capita per year. But what you're telling me in fact, in your that in your family, you're saying that actual for your you and your family? If you're using 12 kilowatt to 15 kilowatt hours per capita in your house? And there's six of you, well, then you're you are using maybe 12 or 15 kilowatt hours per year, right. I mean, we'll know it'll be twice that right. So you know, maybe 30 or 50 kilowatt hours per year you, you yourself, this is a tiny, tiny amount of electricity, and I'm not ragging, you haven't been to the US, but Americans will you know, these, I don't have one, but they'll go camping, right? They'll go out in the countryside, and they'll take a generator with them. They'll use more electricity on vacation than you use in your house. I mean, this is just, this is men, we don't when we and we and we take it for granted. So let's let's zoom out a little bit just for tell me I know you live in Cassia. And you're not in Nairobi, where the central government is, but tell me about Kenyan politics. I mean, has the Kenyan government been forced into this kind of green green energy? I'll say this The Green Energy trap, have they? Have they been forced into this? Or are they saying no, we need hydrocarbons. I wrote about the South African energy minister just today talking about the fact that South Africa has large oil and gas reserves and that they shouldn't be developing them. So what is the sentiment in the national government in Kenya about energy and power and where the country is going?

Jusper Machogu 44:52 
Our president, our current president is a climate. The Lord. I don't know if that's the right word. But he's into climate change and conserving the environment, preserving the environment, all of that. So that's why we are seeing people coming all the way from Germany to preaching Hydrogen. Hydrogen in Kenya doesn't make sense. So it's really destroying our economy. Because recently, I think last week, the IMF and World Bank are congratulating our government for ending fertilizer subsidies, fertilizer and fuel subsidies. That like that's a good thing. That's not a good thing. So from last year, our fuel prices have gone up. So last year, okay, back in 2020, I was buying a bag of fertilizer at round that three that $3 by 50 kilograms of, you know, DAP rates. Now we buy meat at 69 to 72. It really depends where you get it when you're getting it from. So

Robert Bryce 45:56 
I'm sorry, give me those numbers. Give me those numbers. Again, if you don't mind just for 2020 2020 You're paying $3 $3 for 50 kilos.

Jusper Machogu 46:06 
That's it. $3.50 Kg do, right. Right now we bind it at 69. The same thing bad 50 kilograms

Robert Bryce 46:17 
from you know, $3 to 69. Now, that was six to nine, six or $9. Right? So it's tripled in price.

Jusper Machogu 46:28 
Okay, it has gone up by two times.

Robert Bryce 46:31 
Two times. So now it's $6 $6.

Jusper Machogu 46:36 
Not $6.60 6060. That is two $50. So getting it.

Robert Bryce 46:46 
Yeah, I think I am. So it went. So I just want to be clear. It's doubled in price or it's gone up? Yes. Oh, it's doubled. So, so it went from $30 for 50 kilos. Okay. Yeah. Forgive me i the audio or maybe I'm just getting deaf. So we're paying three years ago, you're paying $30 for 50 kilos of this nitrogen fertilizer, what kind of what kind of fertilizer is it again?

Jusper Machogu 47:11 
DLP is demonia impulse bait. I think that's right. Planting fertilizer. Yeah.

Robert Bryce 47:17 
Right. And now so the the price has the price has doubled. And so you're using less.

Jusper Machogu 47:26 
Of course, people are losing less. It's not like our whatever we were producing has gone up. So it's all crazy. And that's why I think we importing more maize into the country. Most people didn't actually most people in this is on the Feb. Feb season didn't plant using fertilizer. Most people just like if I was buying fertilizer at I was using $5 to buy fertilizer an example. I'm still using $5 to buy fertilizer, only that I'm getting less fertilizer. And that's what I'm going to take to the to my farm. Right. It's all crazy. Yeah.

Robert Bryce 48:04 
So the president of Kenya. The president now is William Ruto is I've got this right. I just Yeah, I just picked it up. So again, I don't know.

Jusper Machogu 48:12 
So. So these people, what they doing to us is is not good. I don't know if he's been pushed to the wall. But he will be in a position to say no, because like once we don't have access to fertilizers, we are doomed. Because like, if you look at Africa, most of the food that we have been producing. It has been usually from clearing more land for farming, unlike in other places, like in a place like China. It was usually from it usually from increasing the amount of fertilizer applied. Vitalizer Yeah.

Robert Bryce 48:51 
So I want to read that back to you said if we if we don't have access to fertilizer, we are doomed.

Jusper Machogu 48:56 
Yes. And fertilizer on aid.

Robert Bryce 49:00 
We can't live on aid. And fertilizers made from hydrocarbons, mainly from natural gas right from the haber bosch process. So if you don't have natural gas, you don't have fertilizer. And if you don't have fertilizer, you're doomed because you will be dependent on imports which are going to be more expensive, or you and you just won't be able to afford it so that that so what do you if you if you if you had a well let me talk about substack first. So how did you find how did you get on substack because again, this is one of the things that I'm all in on substack by the way, I don't and Jesper is on substack Jesper Machiel You can help him out by buying he has pineapples on there. I like the is pineapple. Thank you. Thank you. insignia there. How did you end up on substack? How did you find substack? You found it on your phone? How do you know about this?

Jusper Machogu 49:54 
Um, I've been on Twitter for a very long time. I tell my Twitter is is from June. See that? You know, something, although I wasn't using it that much. I started using it, I think from 2019. So I've been active on Twitter from 2019 onwards. And I've also been like, Okay, I know Alex Epstein. And he's been like a mentor to me. I actually wanted to do Patreon. And I was stuck between Patreon and substack. And I talked to Allison, do you do subsets? AppSec is better. And they just decided, I'll do substack. Yeah,

Robert Bryce 50:32 
let's see. Okay, well, I forgot you are on Twitter, and you have 22,000 followers on Twitter, you're at Jesper matovu. And you post your videos there as well. The I don't know how I forgot about that. I knew you were on Twitter, but nevertheless.

Jusper Machogu 50:47 
And they fight a fight the green colonialism.

Robert Bryce 50:55 
So if I if you had a few, we've been talking almost an hour. So I don't want to keep you I know you have other things to do. And if you could talk to the US policymakers, like the Export Import Bank. Yeah, I mean, I mentioned we talked about if you had a chance with Bill McKibben or some other climate activist, but you had a chance with policymakers and wanted to straighten them out, as we say, in the US, so you wanted to make them understand what the reasons were, the reality of your life is and what life is like and for other people in kisi, and around you, what would you say to them?

Jusper Machogu 51:31 
Okay, I would tell them to focus every other policy around human flourishing, especially in Africa, human flourishing, a failed Africa, a rich Africa is good for everyone. So basing their policies around the climate, climate change, and the environment is in good, it's not doing us any good, especially the UN. Like, if I got a chance to talk to the UN directly, I will tell them, we're going to scrub away the Sustainable Development Goals. Because like, each and every goal is focused on it based on climate change. And that's not a good thing. So we're going to, we're going to find our own we're going to model Africa in our own way. And that's going to be with lots of energy, lots of our own energy, we're not going to ask for aid. Like if you're going to invest in our oil and gas good for you. Because like that's just business, you know, giving us a Do Not giving us free food. So we need fossil fuels that are we're going to develop we need fossil, lots of fossil fuels, we need fertilizers, we need farm machines. We need to build our houses that cement and steel. So fossil fuels for Africa. That's what I will tell them.

Robert Bryce 52:55 
Good. Well, I always ask my guests what they're reading. I know you've been to university so you I asked guests what books are on their list or I don't know if you you know, if your your book guy or you've spent so much time in work, you would but tell me what are you reading these days?

Jusper Machogu 53:14 
Okay, right now, I think I'm reading I'm planning to read Mirror Mirror did unjoin I think that's our name,

Robert Bryce 53:22 
shadow. Meredith. Meredith Angwin. Yeah,

Jusper Machogu 53:25 
I plan to read shutting the grid. Yeah,

Robert Bryce 53:28 
here. It is shorting the grid. I think I've sold I think I've sold more of merit books than I've sold of my own. But I That's good to hear that you're planning to read her book. She's, she's a marvel. I mean, just a tremendous, tremendously effective as you know, she published self published her book, but Okay, so, Meredith Angwin. Please continue.

Jusper Machogu 53:54 
Okay, so that's what I plan to read next. But my favorite books, I think, I have like, four I think four. So one is fake invisible catastrophes and threats of doom by Patrick Moore. Right. Two is of course our own battle of mill. How the world really works,

Robert Bryce 54:20 
right? Yeah.

Jusper Machogu 54:22 
Three, I think okay. unsettle Steve Conan. Right. Yeah, for let me let me say fine. One of like, I recently read inconvenient facts by Gregory redstone. It's a really nice book. And it's, it's just short, precise. It's, it's just amazing. So my favorite is fossil future by Alex Epstein. I really love that book. Just amazing. Good.

Robert Bryce 54:58 
And last question. Just for what gives you hope?

Jusper Machogu 55:05 
That's a tricky question. What gives me hope? Okay, I know for a fact, because we're going to develop inevitably, you're going to beat poverty inevitably. My people, Africa, Africa, we are a generation of young people 20 years of median age. So I know for a fact these people are going to wake up, they're going to fight to develop themselves, fight to better themselves, and that gives me hope they're going to like it's going to happen inevitably.

Robert Bryce 55:40 
I think that's a good place to stop. My guest is Ben Jesper matovu, you can find him on Twitter, at Jesper matovu. He's also on substack, where you can help him out by buying him some pineapples or and on that spot just for mature Jasper, it's been a joy to talk to you, I'm pleased that we were able to make this happen and that through the wonder of the internet, we're able to become friends and I look forward to staying in touch with you.

Jusper Machogu 56:14 
Thank you very much. And also, I look forward to talking to you some more.

Robert Bryce 56:19 
Good. Well, so again, thanks to Jasper and thanks to all of you in podcast land for tuning into this episode of the power hungry podcast. If you're so inclined to give us a five 612 star rating whatever it is that you can do on those rating machines. And you can follow me Of course on substack ROBERT BRYCE Dotsub Thanks for tuning in. Until next time, see you