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    Farmer displays banana fibre on the sun to dry. Photo courtesy.

    Integrated Community Organization for Sustainable Empowerment and Education for Development (ICOSEED) initiative in Kirinyaga County has created over 100 jobs for the youth and women in the county who were previously jobless by turning banana pseudo stems into fibre that can be used to make fabrics for bags and table mats for sale.

    This initiative was founded by Mr. Patrick Gatere in 2015 to bring into good use banana stems which farmers were felling down to enjoy the banana fruits then could use the stems to feed their cattle or discard it to decay in the farm.

    RELATED STORY: Researchers: Banana pseudo stems are rich source of quality fibres

    The ICOSEED banana pseudo stems’ value chain has many departments and stages where people are employed to work. “Our processing system has enabled us to employ youth and women in transportation and extraction of fibers, twining and coloring, and accessory making hence reducing crime rate among the youth who were joblessness,” said Gatere.

    In addition he says the initiative has strengthened the banana farmer groups with trainings in agronomy, increasing yields by 18 per cent hence providing an alternative source of income for 400 farmers who benefit from the program every year.

    Farmers are paid for the fibre extracted from their banana pseudo stems at Sh25 per kg. The fibre is handed over to youth for brushing and finally to women for twining and dying. The coloured threads are passed on to hand loom operators who make fabric. The fabric is used to make bags, clutch purse, table mats and wall hangings.

    The Kutus based initiative’s target market includes exhibitions, online shopping, curio shops, tourist hotels, churches and super markets.

    RELATED STORY: KALRO selling high quality Banana Tissue culture seedlings

    ICOSEED’s efforts attracted National Environment Trust Fund (NETFUND) which gave financial support to the tune of Sh812, 500 as well as technical and business support skills enabling the initiative purchase three more extractors and four more handlooms to increase production capacity and produce quality products.

    In 2017 and 2016 ICOSEED won Switch Africa Green (SAG) SEED challenge Award and Green Innovation Awards in the Civil Societies category respectively. Gatere says that their future plan is to increase production and number of farmers who supply them with banana stems.

    RELATED STORY: Group earns from ulcer treating banana peels powder

    “We plan to Increase the number of farmers supplying banana stems from 400 to 9,000 by 2018, Scale up the production capacity of banana fibre by buying new machinery, including additional mobile fibre extractors, diversify the product range to include sanitary towels within the next two years and establish two new production sites in key banana production areas like Meru and Kisii by 2022,” he said.



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    Value addition for 'Mukombero plant' into a ready to drink juice will enable consumers to take the root without fear of any dangers that may come as a result of chewing it in its raw form

    The Kenya Industrial Research and Development Institute (KIRDI) has developed juice from the famous ‘Mukombero Plant’ commonly found in western Kenya. The move is expected to provide market for smallholder farmers of the plant who will surely find market for the plant.

    While it doesn’t look like your ordinary juice, the product success is as a result of research efforts from the institute who believe Kenyans are chewing the plant to extinction. The juice was on display at the 2017 Nairobi International Trade Fair which was held at Jamhuri grounds, Nairobi.

    READ ALSO: Medicinal Juice from trees can treat over 300 diseases

    “Due to its wide spread utilization, the plant has actually become extinct in parts of Central Kenya and it is almost being extinct where it is still left in western Kenya, so we are working with stakeholders and communities to grow the root to ensure constant supply” says Bitutu Nyambane, a Research Scientist at KIRDI.

    According to KIRDI, value addition of this plant which has commonly been hawked in the streets of Kakamega town, will enable consumers to take the root without fear of any dangers that may come as a result of chewing it in its raw form.

    READ ALSO: Farmer quenches locals' thirst with weed juice

    “The plant has energy promoting benefits, increases appetite and also tends to improve sleep, it can also relieve pain and act as a mouth freshener” adds Nyambane.

    Value addition has also enhanced the nutritional benefits of the plant with KIRDI planning to have several varieties of the juice including Ginger & lemon. The research institute also plans to incorporate ‘mukombero’ into other juices like the mango and orange drinks.

    READ ALSO: Kenyan middle class drives fresh juice processing

    The juice which is yet to be officially rolled out into the market comes in 300ml bottles which KIRDI says will retail at an average of 70 shillings.

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    Thomas Kioko, a medicnal herbal doctor at the 2017 Central Kenya National Show in Nyeri (Pic: Japhet Ruto)

    Thomas Kioko, a medicinal herbal doctor from Ruring’u, Nyeri County has innovated a medicinal juice making machine that is used to make herbal products using innovative mechanical techniques.

    The medicinal juice is made from tree roots, stems, branches, barks, leaves and seeds and can be used to treat over 300 lifestyle diseases that are a becoming a thorn in the flesh of the modern population in Kenya and beyond.

    Kioko says that after a careful research process, he found that each and every part of a tree has chemical substances which when processed creates herbal medicine. The juice is mostly made from indigenous trees of various species.

    READ ALSO: Kenyan middle class drives fresh juice processing

    After harvesting trees, the specific part like a bark is dried using green energy i.e. the sun until is completely dry, the dried parts are then chopped using a medicinal plant chopping machine and put in a shredding machine whose grinding parts & teeth grounds the parts into powder. The powder is used to make syrup, tablets and capsules.


    Some of the diseases that herbal medicinal juice can treat in humans according to Kioko

    “We are in the process of finding out how herbal products can be used in crop protection in agriculture” said Kioko who is an herbal doctor at Ruring’u school of alternative medicine and technology.

    READ ALSO: Enterprising youth earns from sugarcane juice

    Kioko who was one of the exhibitors at the 2017 Nyeri National show notes that their medicine has been analyzed by the Kenya Medical Research Institute and found fit for the management of various diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, breast cancer, sickle cell anaemia, skin diseases, asthma and rabies in dogs.

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    Some of the diseases herbal medicine can treat in poultry cattle and goats 

    READ ALSO: Farmer quenches locals' thirst with weed juice

    The World Health Organization reports that 30 per cent of Kenyans are now suffering from premature deaths due to physical inactivity and unhealthy diets. According to the survey in the last 10 years, lifestyle diseases have killed more than 100,000 Kenyans aged between 30 and 70 years each year.

    Kioko sells the medicine in several packages with the smaller for 250g going for Ksh. 250.

    He can be reached on +254729517819 or +254722442501.



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