Monthly Archives: November 2012

‘Kunde’ changes farmer’s Fortune

kunde-farmersBy Ramenya G. (Thursday, November 22  2012 at  20:00), Kunde Changes Farmers Fortunes. Daily Nation Newspaper. rgibendi@ke.nationmedia.com

Maryanne Atieno and her two daughters spread fresh produce of black-eyed pea leaves, popularly known as kunde, at Ahero shopping centre. It is 5pm and the produce needs to be transported by the next bus to Nairobi.

She tells Money that her customers have run out of supply and she is under pressure to deliver 150 kilogrammes of kunde by the following day. That is about five gunny bags.

After battling with poverty for many years, Ms Atieno ventured into commercial farming of indigenous vegetables on her one-acre plot of land in Magina village in the heart of Kano Plains two years ago.

The indigenous vegetables, traditionally considered a darling of the rural population, have been gradually gaining popularity among urban residents, to the advantage of Ms Atieno who says her biggest markets are in Nairobi, Nakuru, and Naivasha.

The mother-of-four has divided her land into several plots and planted kunde in a manner that ensures a constant supply of approximately five bags a week.

She makes about Sh8,500 in a week, translating to Sh34,000 in a good month.

She says that not even rice, the popular cash crop in the area, would have earned her half that amount in a month considering that rice takes about five months to mature, the high cost of the investment notwithstanding.

To keep her small farm productive, Ms Atieno relies on casual labour that she says is cheaply available in her village.

“It is easy to get people to pick and pack my cow peas into bags at Sh100 for every bag,” she says.

After picking, she transports the leaves to Ahero shopping centre, about 10 kilometres away, where sorting and re-packaging is done before sending to Nairobi for distribution and resale.

She receives her payment via mobile money transfer service, for instance M-Pesa.

Maximising output

Ms Atieno says many farmers irrigate their farms during dry spells using water from rivers Nyando and Kibos, which meander through the villages.

Ms Atieno is not making it big alone. Several other farmers in the area are increasingly turning their otherwise little income-earning parcels of land into gold mines.

Many small-scale farmers in Apondo and Magina villages in Kano, Nyanza, have found a way of maximising the output of their small farms by planting kunde and other fresh vegetables.

Mr Kennedy Oriare is one of them. He says traditional vegetables are cheap and easy to cultivate compared to rice, thereby ensuring maximum profit to the small-scale farmers.

“With these indigenous vegetables, you do not need a huge parcel of land, even a quarter-acre can sustain a family of five,” he told Money.

In the urban market, 30 kilogrammes of kunde goes for Sh1,700 during high season and Sh800 in low season during the long rains.

An equivalent quantity of mitoo and mrenda(other indigenous vegetable varieties) goes for Sh2,000 and Sh2,500 respectively, regardless of the season.

So profitable is the new agribusiness that Ahero shopping centre is awash with farmers and middlemen transacting daily from 3am to 6pm.

Mr Oriare says some of the indigenous vegetables find their way to big hotels and supermarkets as much as in the open air markets in towns.

Kano is located on the eastern side of Lake Victoria and experiences alternating periods of severe drought and floods due to the alluvial soils that are prone to poor drainage, a fact that poses a challenge to other agricultural activities in the region.

Overpopulation has worsened the situation by piling pressure on available land, rendering any large-scale farming almost impossible.

Severe flooding

The extreme drought and severe flooding weather patterns mean that only fast-maturing plants can survive because slow maturing crops would either get washed away by floods or dry due to water scarcity.

The farmers, mostly women like Ms Atieno, have consequently turned to planting varieties of  indigenous vegetables like crotolaria (mitoo), jute plant (mrenda), and black-eyed bean (kunde), which they sell to urban markets.

The indigenous vegetables take an average of eight weeks (two months) to mature, a period Ms Atieno says is short enough to sustain her income, considering that the vegetables are grown all year round, except during flood.

She says that she has been able to adequately provide for her family, which she could hardly accomplish several years ago.

“My first born is in Form Two while my three other children are in primary school. Nowadays feeding them is not a problem, the way it was before,” she says.

Fertilizers Manufacturing in Kenya:

This video contains clips from the presentation of the final report on fertilizer manufacturing in Kenya. Held at KEPHIS headquarters, Karen in Nairobi-Kenya on 25th Oct 2012. This was done during a stakeholder meeting.

Chicken farming helps pull group from jaws of Poverty:

IN SUMMARY

  • Tired of waiting for government assistance, women’s group in Maai Mahiu, Naivasha, plots its way to a life of dignity through poultry sales.

nation-newspaper-articleA determined group of internally displaced persons (IDPs) is literally making lemonade from the lemons that life has handed its members.Displaced from their homes at the height of the disputed 2007 presidential elections, the IDPs are putting up a brave fight in the face of adversity. Known as the New Hope Jikaze Women Group, they have weathered many a storm to stay afloat. The group of 20 includes nine men who have joined the women to    start chicken farming.    “It was apparent we could not continue complaining forever or feel sorry for ourselves. Wriggling our way out of financial quagmire remained the only    feasible solution,” said the group’s chairperson, Ms Christine Ndinda.

At her home, she has 150 indigenous chickens and a similar number of the exotic breed. “In the next four months, the indigenous chickens will be ready for    sale,” she told .    Leading by example, Ms Ndinda has the largest number of chickens reared in a well-constructed house. “You cannot purport to guide people and fail to lead    by example,” she says.

The turning point for the group came after they attended a series of seminars organised by the Kenya Agriculture Research Institute (Kari) on how to rear    chicken.    “We were taken through the basics and taught how to administer vaccine, the best breed to rear, and the type of feeds required for healthy growth. And with that knowledge, we hit the ground running,” she said.    With limited space – 50-by-100 metre plots – they have made the best out of a difficult situation.    “It was becoming increasingly difficult to work as a group since individual economic needs varied from time to time. So we decide to go solo,” she said.    A woman of vision, Ms Ndinda realised that it was almost impossible to make her dream come true if she did not have electricity, which is vital in keeping    the exotic breeds. “I applied for Stima loan and managed to instal electricity in the two-room house,” she adds. With the power connection, she scored another first as her mud-walled chicken house is well lit, unlike the houses of other group members.   She is also comfortably paying school fees for her six secondary school-going children without enduring sleepless nights. “I only need to sell several    chickens to settle their school fees,” said Ms Ndinda. A few blocks away is another member of the group, Mr Zachariah Mwaniki. He has only kind words for women: “They have proved to be better managers and their enterprises are well funded,” he told

Table banking :

He, too, has more than 100 indigenous chickens. “I no longer belong to the desperate lot. I am able to live a life that is not devoid of the basic needs,”    said Mr Mwaniki.   Less than three years ago, life for him was a struggle. “I was not even able meet my basic needs. But now the story is different,” he said. A big plus for the group is that all their work is well documented with a written constitution and a savings and loan scheme that has enabled members to    benefit from “table banking.”    “Each member contributes Sh300 a month and qualifies for a loan after three months and depending on future savings, he/she is entitled to a bigger loan if  he/she shows commitment and is also a disciplined saver,” said Ms Ndinda, who keeps all the records.

Source: By Macharia Mwangi machariamwangi2008@gmail.com;
Daily Nation Newspaper.
Posted Wednesday, November 7 2012 at 19:00