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Migori youth ventures into herb farming

Fred Odhiambo, a youth from Rongo town in Migori County has been practicing herb farming in his forty-square meters organic farm for medicinal values.

Odhiambo, a teacher by profession and the Director of Organic Green System whose herb business initiative is my farm, my food, my health and my wealth. He said that he was motivated to start herb farming in 2018 to tap on the underdeveloped business and help Kenyans live a healthier life.

Fred Odhiambo blending machine that blends herb juice. The juice is blended with sugarcane to give it a sweetening taste. Photo by Geoffrey Makokha

He says that he started planted the herbs when he realized the returns were much better than his previous vegetable business.

Odhiambo says that his forty-square meter farm has 43 different herb crops that takes between two and half to seven months to mature. The farm has herb crops like Moringa aloe vera, ginger plant, peppermint, beetroot, yellow dock and Artemisia plant (malaria plant).

He says that some of these herbal plants help to normalize blood pressure improve wound healing and eliminate constipation. He also notes that the herbs help in blood circulation, prevent colds and coughs, and relief heartburn.

Odhiambo notes that he has also planted vegetables like spinach as a herb because of its medicinal value. He is encouraging Kenyans to always include spinach in their diet as it aids in weight loss, promotes eye health, and healthy bones. The excess spinach is sold to vegetable vendors in Rongo town.

He explains that these herbs prevent a lot of diseases that are chronic like diabetes and hypertension that have become a problem to our health and which has drained a lot of Kenyans financial resources during the treatment process.

He acknowledges that organic farming can solve a lot of health problems because the crops grown are natural and free from toxic chemicals and fertilizers that are usually used. He notes that the nutrition obtained from his herbs will help a lot of people live a healthier lifestyle.

Odhiambo blends and packages herb juice which he sells in Migori, Nairobi and other neighbouring Nyanza Counties. One liter of blended herb juice costs Sh 150. His daily income ranges between 2,000 to 3,500 which he says is good return.

“I do sell seedlings to local farmers, adding to my profits. I also train farmers on how to do organic farming and herb planting because of the passion and the self-satisfaction I get from enterprise,” said Odhiambo.

The farmer notes that he has gone for various training sessions to enhance his agribusiness skills. He says that the skills acquired will help improve his herb enterprise as well as be able to train other farmers on the same.

“I was sponsored by One Vision, a Migori Based Non-Governmental Organisation to attend the Kenya Climate Change Innovation Center (KCCIC) training on entrepreneurship and mentoring programmes”, said Odhiambo.

Odhiambo says that his teaching profession has helped him train other farmers on how to utilize small land resources to generate wealth through organic farming. He is encouraging Kenyans to always grow their own organic food as a means of living a healthier life.

Odhiambo is advising the youths to start with the little space they have and utilize the opportunities of being entrepreneurs and self-reliant. He says his vision is to set up a cooperative to enable many farmers to benefit from his herb enterprise as well as organic farming.

Mr. Glen Watson, a donor to Organic Green System and one of the representatives of the Denmark International Non-Governmental Organisation working with Kenya on environmental issues in Lake Victoria says that Odhiambo’s organic herb model enterprise was scalable and one of the best farming practices that can be emulated by Kenyan youths.

He points out that he decided to support the Organic Green System enterprise aspects of farming and marketing. Mr. Watson explains that the farming skills applied at the farm can be applied elsewhere and therefore, it should be encouraged. He notes that when Odhiambo becomes a successful farmer and a mentor, many youths stand to benefit.

Watson says that the Odhiambo’s farm is barely forty meters square yet it was producing beyond its capacity. He noted that the farming model in Odhiambo’s farm was the best because the herb plants were stabilizing the soils and helping to mitigate soil erosion.

By Geoffrey Makokha

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