Cassava growing for food security in Kenya

by PATHWAYS Leadership for Progress
Vetted
Researchers visiting our cassava project
Researchers visiting our cassava project

August, 2013

Maragua Division, Kenya

Dear Friends,

One of the major causes of hunger in Kenya is the over-reliance on corn and beans as the staple foods. These are crops that cannot withstand adverse weather conditions such as drought. Our community has however successfully adopted cassava to enhance food security. The good news has spread far and wide. We recently hosted a group of researchers from the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute who wanted to know the impact that cassava has had on the food security status of our community. We showed them around and gave them a presentation on our work as well. We hope that they can learn from our experience and initiate a national program on cassava cultivation.
The attached photo shows a community member explaining how she has benefited from the crop. In front of her are young cassava tubers.

Having already left the university, I am back in the village where I am volunteering in the planning of my county's (Murang'a County) Agricultural Show, next month.

Thank you for your continued support to help us achieve food security and to spread the word about the benefits of cassava.

Michael

Community giving a presentation on our project
Community giving a presentation on our project
Isaac inspecting his cassava crop
Isaac inspecting his cassava crop

5/2013

 

Maragua Division, Kenya

Dear Friends,

Our cassava project to increase food security and improve the economic situation of my community members has continued to do well and help persons earn a better income. I want to tell you about two of my community members,  who have benefitted.

Isaac Mburu is a 22- year old young man from Murang'a. He recently joined college to study a diploma course in Mechanical Engineering. Last October, Isaac requested his parents to allow him to grow his own cassava on their land.  We offered him cuttings to plant on  a half acre plot. Isaac plans to rent a larger plot with the proceeds from his investment. He says," I am sure to make enough money to offset some of the expenses in college."  See photo of Isaac inspecting his crop.

Mrs. Ekila Wanjiku is a community member who, upon realizing the popularity that cassava products have gained in the area, opened a restaurant business that is majorly dealing with cassava based foods. Ekila sells cassava chapattis, doughnuts and porridge at her new business situated in the village market. She excitedly says, " The business is doing well and I would encourage my fellow women to set up such businesses now that we are growing cassavas in our own plots and milling is available and cheap."  See photo of Mrs. Wanjiku in her resuarant.

Kenya has recently adopted a devolved system of government with political power decentralized to the various counties. Every county government is supposed to drive development in the respective county. Murang'a  county is rural with poverty and food insecurity being some of its major challenges. We were privileged to host some of the county government officials in a visit to the project. They wanted to learn about cassava farming and its socio-economic benefits. We strive to set pace to the rest of the County in conquering poverty and food insecurity.  See photo of officials during their visit.

I am grateful to have this opportunity to help make a change in my community.  Thank you for helping us !! We feel inspire by your support.

With heartfelt gratitude,

Michael

Mrs. Wanjiku in her restaurant
Mrs. Wanjiku in her restaurant
County government officials visiting our project
County government officials visiting our project
Isaac inspecting his cassava crop
Isaac inspecting his cassava crop
Martha Njoki at the mill grinding her cassava
Martha Njoki at the mill grinding her cassava

2/2013

Maragua Division, Kenya

Dear Friends,

Our cassava project to increase food security and improve the economic situation of my community members has been progressing extremely well over the last year.  I want to tell you about two of my community members, Mrs. Njoki and Mr. Maina, who have benefitted in a significant way.

Mrs Martha Njoki was widowed 10 years ago. She inherited a piece of land measuring 2 acres. Ever since, she could not afford to cultivate her land due to large amount of costs incurred and frustrations involved with corn growing. Last year, she decided to venture into the cost -effective and much profitable cassava farming. She received free cuttings from the project. Her whole land is now under cassava. She sells a part of her produce raw, while the rest she grinds into flour at the mill you helped us acquire. She uses the cassava flour for her own domestic consumption and sells the extra to some of her neighbors. She says," The cassava project has enabled me to utilize the only resource that my late husband left behind. This has put some good money into my pocket."  Please see the photos of Martha at the mill for the grinding of her produce.

The other community member I would like to tell you about is Mr. Charles Maina a 35-year old father of 6 children. To fend for his family, he had been working as an on-and -off casual labourer, picking coffee berries in an estate at Thika, 23 Kilometres away. When you helped us acquire a mill, Mr. Maina asked to work as the operator. He now earns Ksh. 5,000 (about $63) monthly, much higher salary and a more stable position than what he did previously.
Mr. Maina says," Out of this higher and more stable income that I now receive, I am sure to save enough to educate my children and secure them a better future!"

When the workload intensifies, particularly during harvest seasons, we hire 2  more people to assist the operator.
More importantly, the mill provides indirect employment to many others. These include small businesses milling flour for preparing and selling doughnuts, chapattis, porridge and other dishes.

I am grateful to have this opportunity to help make a change in my community.  Thank you for helping us !! We feel the future is bright.

 

With heartfelt gratitude,

Michael

Charles Maina milling his cassava
Charles Maina milling his cassava

Links:

Rachel feeding cassava to her cow
Rachel feeding cassava to her cow

Maragua Division, Kenya

 

Dear Friends,

I wanted to pass along two specific stories that illustrate the immense impact your support of the cassava project is having on the lives of my community members, especially the women. 

Winnie Muthoni is a 38-year old single mother of four. For her family's daily bread, she had been fetching water on her back and selling to her neighbors. She does this no more. Being among the first to be trained on how to prepare cassava dishes through the project, Winnie has started her own business. She mills cassava and grains into flour, at the mill you helped us acquire, and with that she prepares dough nuts, chapattis  and porridge. She sells these at the nearby Irigiro Shopping Centre or whenever there are ceremonies in the village. She merrily says," I have become my own employer, earning much higher income than in my previous agonizing job. My children are now assured of a better up-bringing. Being a girl-child in my father's homestead, I inherited the smallest piece of land. I am therefore saving towards renting a larger plot to grow more cassava." She thanks all those who have made her life-change possible.  See photos of Winnie at the mill.

Mrs. Rachael Wanjiku is a mother of four. She owns 2 cattle that she milks and sells the milk to her neighbors. The revenue that accrues greatly assists her towards meeting her family's needs. Rachael proudly says that the cassava project has been a " double - blessing" for her. She was among the first farmers to adopt cassava growing through the project. Now, she is able to mill a part of her cassava produce into flour for her cattle feeds, at the machine that you helped us acquire. She says, " By milling my cassava into flour for feeding the cattle, I have in a big way cut down costs and improved the animals' health. The corn-based feed that I was buying earlier were much more costly and less nutritious." She grows her own cassava and mills it at the nearby milling machine, at a reduced cost. As a result, her profit has greatly increased. She adds, " Next year, I am venturing into pig rearing. I will be milling my cassava at the machine for pig feeds." She thanks all those who made her "double-blessing" happen. See photos of Rachael with her cattle.

I am happy to have been given this opportunity to make a change in my community.  Thank you for helping us succeed.  I look forward to seeing this project grow even more and starting other social businesses in the future.

With heartfelt gratitude,

 

Michael

Winnie entering mill
Winnie entering mill

Links:

Community members participating in World Food Day
Community members participating in World Food Day

Maragua Division, Kenya

 

Dear Friends,

My community continues to benefit from the purchase of the mill to grind cassava to make food staples.  The enthusiasm for the project in my community continues to grow.  I am happy to report on the latest news.

Our community participated in the World Food Day Celebrations by holding a public forum on cassava on 16th, October 2012 at Kigumo Divisional headquarters. During the event, hundreds were taught on the benefits of the highly nutritious and drought resistant Cassava as a food, fodder and cash crop. The community members also utilized the opportunity to sell various cassava products including doughnuts, porridge, chips, and crisps. In the photos, are people buying and enjoying cassava dishes.

I am glad to inform you that our milling operation is modeled on the concept of a social business put forth by Muhammad Yunus. We charge only Ksh. 10 per 5 Kgs  instead of Ksh. 30 that the rest of the millers ask. This is to encourage consumption of cassava, as the villagers can now mill their dried cassava chips much more cheaply. This obviously encourages cassava cultivation. The little income accruing almost entirely goes into the running of the business through payment of its recurrent costs.


However, I am of the opinion that social enterprises experience some key challenges. They have to compete in the commercial market dominated by conventional businesses. This is in addition to facing the same operational challenges and risks as all other businesses. To overcome this challenge, the social enterprise should be of a relatively large size so that it can break even and manage to settle its recurrent expenditure. In Economics, this is referred to as "Economies of Scale." Social enterprises also lag behind in embracing technology. This is due to their low level of profits as opposed to what conventional businesses make. The competitors would easily manage to run more efficiently as they can utilize their comparatively large profit streams towards technological advancement and cost reduction. This kind of competition may lead to failure of social enterprises, if they are not large and mature enough.

If I get an opportunity to study for a Masters in Development Economics, I will focus on the role of social enterprises and Non- Governmental Organisations in poverty alleviation and economic development. I believe very little effort has been channeled towards realizing their potential as engines of economic development.

Thank you for your belief in our social business.  You are changing lives for the better.

 

Michael

Inside of cassava mill
Inside of cassava mill
Cassava plants in cultivation
Cassava plants in cultivation

Links:

 

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Organization Information

PATHWAYS Leadership for Progress

Location: Lilburn, GA - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.pathwayslp.org
Project Leader:
Angie Gust
PATHWAYS Leadership for Progress
Lilburn, GA Kenya

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