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    Blessing Machiya

    Blessing Machiya, the Director of Kaboko Naturally, suppliers of naturally dried food products to consumers in Zimbabwe, was voted as one of the 12 finalists in Gogettaz, a competition that involves entrepreneurs seeking financial injection and exposure for their business ventures from the entertainment company, Kwese Inc.

    Kaboko Naturally, which is a subsidiary of  Shumbakadzi Investments, was founded in March 2017 in a bid to provide a cheap alternative to canned food.


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    The range of products includes locally grown organic varieties of fruit, vegetables, nuts and meat that are carefully dried in the sun so that they can used stored and consumed as meal or snack. Storage does not compromise their nutritional taste and value.

    It is this entrepreneurial venture that secured Blessing a place for those contesting for the grand prize of $100,000 and two week mentorship program with Strive Masiyiwa, the founder and Executive Chairman of Econet Global, a telecoms group with presence in over 15 countries.

    “I realized that farmers produce a lot of food from their farms but a substantial amount is lost in the post-harvest stage either due to lack of ready markets or poor storage practices,” said Blessing.

    “I source most of the raw materials from small scale organic farmers, process it and sell the products to the  local and export market, where I am in charge of all the procurement processes,”

    The entrepreneur has employed one person to help her in sourcing and drying the produce manually. The drying period of the produce depends on the weather but it can approximately take three to four days. After it is completely dry, it is packaged and sold to various schools, retailers and supermarkets within Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second largest city. On a good week Blessing earns $300.

    Blessing now 42 is a qualified secretary, proficient in public relations and office administration. At 19, she worked as a receptionist at a company that supplied mining equipment. She then became a personal assistant to the Managing Director and later promoted to a sales person.

    In the year 2000 at the age of 25, Blessing started a company that supplied mining equipment and spares to local mining companies but unfortunately due to the economic situation in Zimbabwe at that time, the company ceased operations.

    Thereafter she tried out different ventures from cross border trading, candle making, chicken rearing, growing and selling potatoes. She funded these projects using her own savings but with growing family demands, the mother of three knew more needed to be done to bring in more income.

    In 2017, she registered her company, Shumbakadzi investment limited, with Zimbabwe Registrar of Companies.

    Through Kaboko, under Shumbakadzi, Blessing aims to be the leading supplier of quality, dried, natural tasting, nutrient rich products made from organic plants and further support small scale farmers by buying locally grown produce from them, process and sell the products to consumers both in and out of Zimbabwe.

    Blessing can be reached on +263 774 932 757 or by email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 



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    The government of Kenya through the Ministry of Agriculture and in collaboration with other foreign ministries has launched the national aquaculture curriculum to promote and sustain tilapia farming in ponds within Lake Victoria catchment areas and across the country.

    In partnership with the German Development Cooperation Agency (GDCA) and Israeli Foreign Affairs Ministry’s Agency for International Development Cooperation, the modular curriculum will be offered in vocational training institutions, polytechnics and colleges in the country.

    RELATED ARTICLE: Meteoric demand for fish drives aquaculture farming

    The course will teach on how to sustain the fish species population which is in decline at the Lake Victoria in turn helping promote clean environment while eradicating poverty through inspiring deviation into alternate fish-farming methods.

    The curriculum which is backed by the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme, Africa’s policy framework for Agricultural transformation, wealth creation and food security, seeks to promote competency based hands-on training to enable fish farmers fully benefit from it.

    “This curriculum is easy to use by farmers. It is currently running in institutions such as Ramogi Institute of Advanced Technology and Lake Basin Development Authority in Kisumu among others. It comprises 70 per cent practical hands-on aspects of learning and 30 per cent theory and through it, we expect to boost aquaculture to ensure the region’s tilapia output increases,” said Ladislao Di Domenica, the programme’s deputy manager.

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    The initial two-phased Trilateral Tilapia Cooperation, which was running in the country since June 2012 to December 2016 culminated in the development of the curriculum to continue offering insights to fish farmers to sustain their aquaculture activities, said Dr. Mathias Braun, GDCA’s Agriculture Programmes director.

    The first phase focused on 10 counties in the Western Kenya region, with the latTer phase centering on up-scaling lessons learnt in phase one, and was implemented in Siaya, Bungoma and Kakamega.

    “After providing the key knowledge to farmers, it was fair that we give them a means to learn more and develop their fish farming,” said Dr. Braun.

    “So far results have been promising with 50 per cent increased profitability, a drop in ponds’ fish mortality rates, high reinvesting by fish farmers and private farms, increased yields and reduction in ponds’ maintenance and operation costs.”

    RELATED ARTICLE: Procedures of handling fingerling to reduce backyard fishpond deaths

    The curriculum will ensure that knowledge on aquaculture spreads across the country and boosts the fish-farming sub-sector which is showing great potential to develop in future.




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    A family in Mukinduri village in Kirinyaga County is making about Sh100, 000 per month on banana farming after abandoning coffee, a crop which was once feted as black gold. This is due to coffee’s dwindling market price and infiltration of unscrupulous business people in the business making it hard for the farmers to fully enjoy their labour.

    Four years ago 671,438 bags of coffee were sold as compared to 2016 when the industry witnessed a paltry 568,766 bags of 60kg sold. Export earnings from the sector have also fallen from Sh50.7bn in the 1990s to Sh15.2bn in the recent years due to mismanaged cooperatives among other reasons according to records by Nairobi Coffee Exchange.

    RELATED ARTICLE: Ready banana market relieves frustrated coffee farmer

    Benson Kinyua Chege and his wife Lidia Wamboi were loyal coffee farmers from 1980s untill 2016 when they decided to change their approach in farming and adopted bananas because of disappointments they faced with coffee farming.

    “Besides poor pricing by brokers in the market, we belonged to a farmers’ cooperative which was constantly mismanaged with its leadership changing every time leading to lack of proper accountability and lose of cash,” said Chege.

    Lost on what to do next, Chege and the wife visited Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) extension office in the county to find out about banana farming, especially if it could do well in their area.

    There was nothing much to add or change apart from clearing coffee plants from their half an acre piece of land paving way for bananas because the climate was favouring.

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    “We bought 40 seedlings of Mbogoya and Uganda Green tissue culture bananas from the organization at Sh100 per seedling spending Sh4000,” said Chege

    “Bogoya is grown for ripening while Uganda Green is for cooking.”

    Bananas, especially the ripening varieties, thrive well in areas that are 1,200m and 1,600m above sea level, with seasonal rainfall averaging 1,200mm and an average temperatures of 250 Celsius according to the area agricultural extension officer Kenneth Njagi Kiria.

    Today Chege and the wife have over 450 bananas in their farm. In day they can harvest 10 bunches of bananas which different traders from Kirinyaga Town come to pick from their farm.

    RELATED ARTICLE: Tissue culture banana planting guidelines

    “We have almost five different customers who come from town to buy our bananas which they take to bigger markets such as Nairobi, Kisumu and Mombasa,” said Chege.

    They sell a bunch weighing four kilograms at Sh500 each giving him Sh5000 daily which translates to Sh150, 000 gross in a month.

    “Banana farming requires minimal labour, inputs and capital than most other crops, and I have also realised that its market is wide and readily available than coffee,” said Chege.

    RELATED ARTICLE: Banana farmers count on unique fertilizer to increase bunch size, shelf life

    According to National Farmers Information Service (NAFIS), bananas are the world’s fourth most important food commodity, after rice, wheat and maize hence the wider market.

    Additionally, Chege is currently contemplating of entering into a contract with a community based organization in the county, Integrated Community Organization for Sustainable Empowerment and Education for Development (ICOSEED). It turns banana pseudo stems into fibre that can be used to make fabrics for bags and table mats for cash.

    “Nothing should go to waste, soon I will start selling my banana stems too to earn a higher income because the organization pays farmers for the fibre extracted from their banana pseudo stems at Sh25 per Kilogram and this is better than wasting it or leaving it to rot,” said Chege.

    RELATED ARTICLE: Banana pseudo stems value addition creating jobs for Kirinyaga women and youth





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