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Thursday, 29 May 2014

Wangwaci Young Farmers strives to improve livelihood of members

By Bob Aston
Wangwaci Young Farmers Self Help Group is a village investment group that was started in 2011. The group was started by farmers who came together, faced with a similar situation; inability to pay loans given to them by Equity bank. The main reason for defaulting was due to drought that struck the area in 2009 leading to massive crop failure.
The group is comprised of 16 members, seven male and nine female. Members have grown tomatoes and maize. They have now propagated capsicum in a nursery and are waiting to transplant once they finish harvesting maize.
Arid Lands Information Network officials at the group's farm
“We were initially 26 members but we had to get rid of inactive members. We prefer to work with active members as this will allow us to achieve our objective,” said Gabriel Kimani, a member of Wangwaci Young Farmers Self Help Group.
Gabriel said that they were given a 2 acre piece of land near Wangwaci dam by the government through the Ministry of Agriculture to cultivate. The Ministry expects them to conserve the environment by practicing climate smart agriculture.
“We normally subdivide money that we get when we harvest our produce. Part of the money will go to members while the rest we reinvest in our projects,” said Gabriel.
Last year the group planted the H6210 maize variety and managed to harvest 70 bags. This year they planted Pioneer maize which they have already started harvesting. Early this week they sold 6,800 pieces of green maize at Ksh 4 each. They group has also sold more than 80 crates of tomatoes.
“We decided to sell the green maize as we feared that elephants might invade the farm. Some people had also started stealing some. The price was very low but it was better than losing our produce through elephant invasion,” said Gabriel.
Gabriel said that they have also been practicing table banking. This has enabled the members to save and access loans from their collections. They have been contributing Ksh 650 after every two weeks thus making monthly contributing to stand at Ksh 1,300. During merry go round they give the member that they have visited Ksh 5,200 to invest in a livelihood project.
Nursery where group has propagated capsicum
He said that members have also been keeping indigenous chicken. Each member started with 30 birds. They have been capacity built by the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries on poultry farming as well as good farming practices. The patron of the group is the Deputy Agriculture officer, Sipili Division.
“Members have benefited a lot from different training that they have received from the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock. This has empowered most members and they are now able to improve their livelihood through agriculture,” said Gabriel.
The group has been irrigating their maize and tomatoes using water from the dam. This has been an expensive venture as they do not have a generator or pump. They have been hiring a generator and pump which at times has caused a lot of inconvenience to the members.
Gabriel said that they were planning to purchase a tractor but the plan did not go well. They have not given up on this and they hope that one day they will own a tractor.
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