Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Addressing information gap empowers a farmer to venture into African Indigenous vegetable farming

African indigenous crops have been found to be highly nutritive, containing medicinal value and adaptive to changing weather patterns. During information gap analysis on June 2012, many enquiries were recorded and it’s from this time when a farmer showed his interest in growing African indigenous vegetables though he lacked the necessary information.

When ALIN and PA partnered to address farmers enquiries, many information gaps were addressed through individual farmer visits and organized training. Mr Francis Mburu has always been visiting Nguruman Maarifa centre to access information. During our visit, Mr Mburu recorded an enquiry on how to cultivate night black shade and cow peas, African indigenous vegetables gaining popularity among many markets, both local and upcountry. He also narrated how he had followed up and found a market for the vegetables at certain hotel at Magadi. However, the farmer did not have enough information on how to venture in the enterprise. Nguruman Maarifa centre library information played a vital role in addressing the need.

Black night shade vegetables on Mr Mburus Farm
Since the farmer was literate, he was directed to borrow African indigenous vegetables books available at the library. Other extra information was downloaded from on-line sites and shared with the farmer. The farmer followed up on the information and got the crops varieties suitable for his area from Magadi division crops extension officer where he then ventured in to the business. The farmer has been cultivating his crops on a two acre piece of land supplying his produce  since march and has seen a growing market for the same. He has also been selling his produce locally to vegetable vendors at Entasopia and Oloibortoto markets. Mr Mburu has also learned the value of other traditional crops and has considered planting cassava and sweet potatoes, a project he believes will soon boost his family earnings further.

Mr Mburu helping a customer to harvest cow peas vegetable blocks
 Since he ventured in to the business, his family earning have improved. He has been able to pay school fees for his two children in secondary school with earnings gained from the venture. His family diet has also improved as the African indigenous vegetables have constituted most part of his family diet. Mr Mburu has also planted other indigenous crops like cassava and sweet potatoes which will help boost food security for his family. He has also shared the information with farmers who are willing to adopt and he says if all goes well, he will be able to have higher supplies thus reaching higher markets up-country.

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