Feature: Processed produce brings more income to Kenyan women farmers
20 September 2016, 15:39
Nakuru (Xinhua) -- Since little profits can be gained from selling raw farm produce, a number of Kenyan women farmers are ingenuously putting extra money into their pockets through marketing processed products, albeit in small scale.
To the delight of Mercy Njeri, a small scale farmer in southwest Kenyan county of Nakuru, selling crisps proves to be more lucrative than selling potatoes.
"Selling raw potatoes is such a loss. You spend a lot of money growing them since you have to use chemicals at almost every stage to protect them from pests and diseases. But finally end up selling them at five, six or even eight dollars a sack," said Njeri.
With the crisps which she makes from her house, Njeri said she can generate a 50 percent profit from the eight kilogram of potatoes which sells between four to six dollars in raw depending on the season.
For the last two years, she has drawn rewarding returns, enabling her to invest in dairy cows and bees.
Njeri was exposed to value addition through training from a non-governmental organization which collaborated with agricultural experts from Kenya's Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries.
According to her, educating farmers on value addition should be intertwined with linking them to credit providers who can offer funds at a negotiated interest rate.
For Beth Kennedy from neighboring Nyandarua county, making jam from strawberry is the best choice she made.
"Jam can last for a year but the raw strawberry cannot remain in edible condition after week upon harvest. You will count total losses if you fail to market all of them soon," said Kennedy, who has two acres of strawberry.
"There are so many people who want the jam. I get orders from as far as coast and western Kenya. I also have orders from Nairobi," she said.
Kennedy, who also trains other women farmers in her village about growing and adding value to the strawberry, learnt about the produce diversification through training carried out by a local nongovernmental organization.
"I also don't miss out on farm field days, exhibitions or agricultural shows. You learn a lot from other farmers and get to meet experts who can give you some direction on what to do to improve your farming," she said.
Inaccessibility to information among the rural small scale farmers is a challenge she observed to be hampering growth among the rural households.
"I could not have known the profitability of strawberry if it wasn't for the training and visiting other farmers who were doing extremely well with the strawberry," she said.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) noted the importance of investing in women farmers to break the rural poverty in its 2015 report on State of Food and Agriculture-Social Protection and Agriculture: Breaking the Cycle of Rural Poverty.
"Programs targeted at women have stronger food security and nutrition impacts," read the report.
"Programs that are gender-sensitive reduce women's time constraints and strengthen their control over income enhance maternal and child welfare. This is especially important because maternal and child malnutrition perpetuate poverty from generation to generation." it said.