A young philanthropist in Nyeri who has been touching the lives of the poor by giving them food aid and other essentials to cushion them against the covid-19 pandemic, has embarked on a drive of promoting urban agriculture to reduce poverty and food insecurity.
The project, according to the initiator, Waithira Maruru, entails equipping families living within towns, especially in informal settlements with knowledge on how to set up kitchen gardens using locally available materials such as bags to grow vegetables for consumption, as well as income generation.
As poor urban families find it difficult to put food on the table, as a result of business and job loses occasioned by the Coronavirus pandemic, Ms. Waithira feels, embracing this technique holds the key to food security and self-reliance.
“We cannot afford to give them food daily, but we can give them skills to enable them fend for their families, as well as put some money in their pockets,” says Waithira.
Waithira, who besides transferring the knowledge to them is also providing the bags and seedlings, she says her main target group is the young children who are at home following the closure of all learning institutions to curb the spread of the deadly respiratory disease.
This, she said, besides keeping them busy will help them understand and appreciate the importance of agriculture which is a vital sector in any society.
“We want the children to take care of these sack gardens to keep them busy as well as inculcate in them, a culture of hard work,” Waithira said as she took children of Chania Estate in Nyeri Town, through the steps of setting up such a garden.
The procedure involves filling a sack with loam soil mixed with manure and then poking holes on the sides where vegetable seedlings are planted and watered regularly. An average sack can hold up to 100 plants.
She says the sack bag farms, need limited space to set and manage and can be easily irrigated using less amount of water, making them a convenient and productive way of making use of small portions of land.
“With such a garden in place, you don’t have to go buying everything that you need in your house,” Waithira continued.
In a bid to motivate the children, Waithira says they will be regularly monitoring the progress made and award those who will have managed their gardens well.
“We will be giving shopping vouchers to best performing children just to encourage them as well as promote the project that we hope to rollout in all the towns within Nyeri County,” Waithira said.
One of the beneficiaries, a class seven pupil, Sophia Kangai, termed the project valuable, as it will teach them responsibility and problem solving skills, besides providing their families with food and revenue.
Waithira’s colleague, Eric Makara, said vulnerable families were the hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic and called on the government to consider giving them relief food to see them through this difficult time.
“Majority of them are small scale traders who lost their jobs as a result of the measures being taken to curb the spread of the disease,” noted Makara.
By Samuel Waititu