A Community Based Organization (CBO) has embarked on development of African leafy vegetables value chain to support widows and youths in Kisumu County.
The programme rolled out by Awuoth Widows and Orphans CBO targets widows who lost their husbands to HIV/Aids and youths aged 25 years and above to boost nutrition and support household economies in the area.
According to the CBO’s programme officer George Ochieng, 400 widows and 100 youths have been enrolled and were currently growing African leafy vegetables for consumption and sale.
The CBO, he added, has embarked on development of the vegetables value chain at the same time supporting the farmers to market their produce.
He added that the CBO has partnered with the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) to train the beneficiaries on regenerative agriculture using organic manure to boost yields.
The farmers, he said, have been trained on how to produce cow peas (kunde), black night shade (managu), spider plant (saga) and green amaranth (mchicha) adding that the CBO acts as an aggregator by buying from them.
“During rainy seasons, the farmers produce a lot of vegetables, most of which goes to waste. This is what prompted the idea of value addition,” he said.
Ochieng said the CBO dries and crushes the vegetables to produce flour used in baking cakes which are highly nutritious especially for children under the age of 5.
“We have a cooling plant where we keep the vegetables before looking for reliable markets. We also have a solar dryer for drying the vegetables,” he said.
Ochieng said the CBO has helped the widows and youths by supplying their produce to local chain stores, hospitals, schools and open air markets.
On average, the farmers, he said, make between Sh28, 000 to Sh30, 000 from the value chain which has changed their lives.
This, he said, has seen the number of farmers producing African traditional leafy vegetables in the area increase.
As a result, the CBO is overwhelmed by the huge supply from the local farmers since the facility cannot fully support large scale production.
He called for partnership with like-minded organizations to expand the facility in order to benefit more farmers in the area.
By Evangeline Mola and Lorine Awino