Farmers in Matisi village in Bungoma are recording reduced cost of farming and increased yields after following the example of one woman who has embraced home made greenhouses and crop rotation.
This has been assisted the farmers fight poverty at a time when agricultural bodies like Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and FAO insists that poor farm management practices in Africa have been responsible for food insecurity.
Susan Nyongesa has been a sugarcane farmer for sometime. She, like thousand of sugarcane farmers in Busia County have been counting losses as the political crop took a toll on their household incomes due to the boardroom wrangles at the sugar companies. With no work and a responsibility to feed her family, she decided to apply the little knowledge she had gathered from extension officers to start rotating her sugar cane with other crops like kales and tomatoes.
This, combined with the greenhouse that she managed to set up with her little returns from the sale of her crops has not only provided for her family’s needs but also attracted more farmers to embrace her kind of farming. This has been a stepping stone in taming the poverty levels in the area that have been blamed on the farmers’ over reliance on sugar.
Within the green house, she has planted coriander, tomatoes, spinach and cu-cumber. “As a good mother, I have taken this initiative in order to feed my village with a balanced diet. I have also taken a step on educating people to enhance self reliance,” said Susan.
Despite the ignorance of locals, the tales of success surrounding poverty eradication in Matisi there is evidence that sugarcane flourishes. Poor access to information has costed the area most. There is no market to absorb their produce hence much of it rots in the field.
“We all produce one crop at a time forcing business people to take advantage of us. Harvesting seasons have been so challenging and we lack the market for our products,” Susan said. Within her compound, there is a fishpond. The four by eight pond is home to over 500 fishes, which her family feeds on.
“In this generation, we have to think and target the unexploited market. I told my friends to start the project but they said they didn’t have water to fill the ponds, but look I am not on the riverside but I refill my pond manually, feed the fish with sukuma wiki and after a while, I harvest. These fingerlings are supplied by ministry of Fisheries for free,” said Susan. “I realised ignorance affects our people. I have decided to educate them to stop depending on others and this is my pursuit. We must destroy the source of poverty by working hard to feed our offspring” said Susan.
Within her farm Susan the mother of five has three dairy cows that she depends on for school fees. She sells milk to locals at Sh40 per litre. With this cash, she is able to pay most of her debts. She is also a poultry farmer. She collects approximately 30 eggs a day and sells locally. Besides livestock, she has planted exotic bananas on her farm. “So far, I have passed new techniques to over 1,000 people with over 20 practising it in Bungoma County. I brought in all stakeholders on board to achieve tangible results challenging stereotypes remain a major setback,” notes Susan.
With no funding to sup-port her civic education programmes to end the deep-root-ed culture, emancipating the communities is hard. The advocacy for supporting new technology by creating awareness about its importance is vivid. She says that the Government’s administrative units have shown little support in sensitizing communities.