FarmBiz Africa

Aloe Vera is the hidden treasure of Taita Taveta

More than 1500 farmers in Taita Taveta County have increased their income fourfold from aloe vera plant after farmers were trained on the economic awareness of the plant.

Initially, farmers and herbalists in the region could harvest a leaf or two for use as human and animal medicine.

According to a survey done by the Kenya Agricultural Productivity Project in 2015 the challenge has been lack of awareness among farmers on its economic benefits, lack of skills and knowledge on value addition, and lack of market excess.

In this, KAPP mobilized various actors and engaged a service provider, Abizaid, with technical expertise to address the challenges of aloe production and marketing in Taita Taveta County. Abizaid, a private capacity building firm, was contracted to help mobilise and build the capacity of farmers. KAPP identified Marungu location in Voi sub-county as the target area for a pilot phase of the project.

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aloe vera plants

Aloe vera plant. Courtesy

The service provider flagged the opportunities in aloe plant upon which 55 farmers enlisted to take part in the project. This led to the formation of the first common interest group (CIG) in Marungu in 2006. Members of the CIG had expressed interest in aloe production, conservation, management of aloe plant, reducing animal conflict, and in conserving and sustaining environment.

Subsequently, the CIG was divided into four working groups (CWGs). The project then supported the CIG to transform into a co-operative society. Up to 1200 farmers registered as shareholders of the MASAKA (Marungu, Sagalla and Kasighau) and MWAKIBU Aloe farmers’ co-operative societies.

The project worked in a way that farmers, through the CWGs, prepared enterprise development plans, which together with the service provider and Nguo Mlambo Development Trust, a local NGO, they implemented. They also managed the funds as an intermediary implementing organization.

More farmers are now engaged in growing aloe as a business. A total 1511(618 males, 893 females) farmers have increased the population of aloe plants, from an initial 80,000 to the current 350,000 mature plants. A further 100,000 have been established in nurseries. Farmers are using the skills gained and have cultivated more aloe plants, from which they are realizing more harvest and making more value added products for increased income.

Mrs. Celestine Mghanga for instance took up germinating and selling aloe secundiflora seedlings. She also sold aloe sap at the nearby Maungu town to the processors of beauty products. Her first born son dropped out of school because of lack of school fees. She had two other children following each other in primary school. This was before the project. However, from the proceeds of her aloe business in which she earned Sh50,000 from half an acre last year, she managed to take back her first born son to school. She also managed to get two of her other children to secondary school

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