Our ‘Growing Seeds of Hope’ Agriculture Project in Kariti, Murang’a County, Kenya has now been running for a year!
As an organisation, we were seeing increases in unemployment worsened by the pandemic, the effects of severe drought resulting in crop failures and food shortages, and rising costs of living, forcing many people in Murang’a into greater poverty and food insecurity.
Together, the community, in conversation with our grassroots partner, and in partnership with the Kenyan Ministry of Agriculture, developed a farming and agricultural training project for early intervention to the growing food crisis, focused on long-term impact, rather than short term assistance.
With the valued and generous support from The Charles Hayward Foundation, over the last year we have been able to train 232 people in agricultural and business skills (majority women) across 3 cohorts and the 4th has just begun their training, aiming to finish at the end of the year. Each trained member was equipped to share knowledge with members of their household which has enabled the community to increase agricultural productivity to improve food security.
Although training is still ongoing, so far the project has some fantastic achievements;
Where is the training held?
Training is held in the grounds of our Kariti Seed of Hope vocational training centre in Murang’a where we have now established a small demonstration farm and put up a greenhouse, producing the seeds and seedlings for distribution and crops to supplement lunches provided to all students and generate income towards future training costs.
What does the training look like?
- The training focuses on techniques to maximise seasonal crops’ productivity and soil preparation, pests and diseases affecting crops and animals and the best way to respond to them, crop harvesting and storage practices, how to adjust to climate change and soil and water conservation techniques.
- Seeds and seedlings are distributed for participants to plant on their land, they can borrow tools, and each receive tailored advice on how to care for crops given their set-up and available space. Participants are also trained in value addition and drying/preserving crops for generating year-round income.
- Business Skills training sessions are delivered on how to set up and run a small business for selling surplus crops and preserved products, marketing, financial management, budgeting, cashflow, and savings etc.
- Market surveys to local markets for food crops are done and surveys in export markets are done. Trainees are connected to local Farmers’ Cooperatives for peer support and selling options and encouraged to form self-help groups in each village to ensure they get a better bargaining power and consequently, better prices for their produce.
How else are the new farmers supported?
From our years of experience delivering vocational and business skills training, we know that providing training alone isn’t effective, so it was important that we applied our holistic approach to the agricultural training in order to set participants up for success. This was delivered by Florence Olwenge, Seed of Hope Programme Manager and highly experienced trained counsellor, and Margaret, the Kariti Seed of Hope Centre Manager.
The sessions focus on mental health, drug abuse and gender-based violence. They addressed cultural issues of gender inequality in decision-making and financial independence and identified challenges to mental wellbeing and tackled associated stigma. The sessions have been well received and participants are signposted to where they can access further services for support.
“I delivered a mental health session with 68 farmers. It was such an interesting session. They were very open and even requested for more sessions on mental health. The majority confessed to be suffering and in need of help.”– Florence Olwenge, with farmers’ Cohort 2
After conducting the impact assessment surveys, we have also been able to add those farmers excelling in the different areas into peer leaders/trainers. Read the story of one of our farmers, Joseph, here.
Thank you to all that have supported this project so far and a very special thank you to The Charles Hayward Foundation for their generosity and kindess in enabling this project to flourish.