Vegetable farming sends Mary’s kids back to school

Farm  Africa

Farm Africa

Premium Supplier 20th January 2020

Vegetable farming sends Mary’s kids back to school

The charity Farm Africa has been helping Kenya’s young farmers capitalise on the country’s booming horticultural sector.

Farm Africa’s Growing Futures project helps young people in western Kenya set up profitable farming enterprises growing and selling vegetables that are in high demand.

For over a decade, Mary Moraa, a 37-year-old mother of five relied on maize farming for her income. Unstable market prices made it impossible to predict when the produce would fetch a good price and she struggled to get by, often selling all the maize in her barn to pay her children’s school fees and buy food for her household.

When Farm Africa, with funding from Medicor Foundation, introduced French beans, garden peas, snow peas and sugar snap farming to the Endebess region of Trans Nzoia County in Kenya, Mary’s business began to thrive. She was taught about good agricultural practices and how to market her produce so she can sell in bulk to buyers.

Growing Futures, a project that chefs Ashley Palmer-Watts and Dennis Mwakulua visited in 2017 (www.thestaffcanteen.com/Blog/farm-africa-chef-dennis-mwakulua-visits-farmers-in-western-kenya#), helps farmers not only increase their yields and the quality of their vegetables, but also build their links to markets, enabling them to increase their incomes.

After his visit, Dennis Mwakulua told us; “It was an eye-opener. People don’t see what Farm Africa does. It does a lot! Especially empowering the youth to see that farming is a good way to make a living.”

Before taking part in the project it was commonplace for Mary’s children to be sent home due to unpaid school fees, this changed with her second harvest in May 2018 when she gained a healthy profit from the 1,470 kilograms of crops she sold.

“My husband was planning to sell our only cow to raise money to send our two children back to high school. Fortunately, the crop produced bountifully, yielding 1,300 kilograms from the two kilograms of seeds I had planted. From the 55,000 Kenyan Shillings sales proceeds, we paid the school fees needed for the whole year.”