Maize is a staple food for most households and grown almost everywhere in Kenya. There are many challenges that most maize farmers must deal with, climate change, pests, diseases just to mention a few. However there is one problem that remains – ruined nutrient-starved soils from where all problems start from.
Kakamega County is no exception to this menace. Luyekhe Kazi na Maendeleo group in Kakamega County has always faced agricultural related challenges of low maize productivity and post harvest losses. Their soils had deteriorated over time leading to high accumulation of acidity molecules that fixes phosphorus making it unavailable to the crop for utilization thus causing low production.
As much as the group aggregated their maize, the quality and the volumes were deeply affected forcing them to dispose their produce early at a cheaper price. This was very demoralizing especially when they had spent a lot of money and long days in their farms. Most of the members were contemplating looking for other enterprises to make a living but thanks to the intervention of CGA through the USAID KAVES Project, the group had hope.
CGA enlightened the farmers on the importance of soil testing and productivity. Farmers were excited to test their soils and apply the corrective measures that saw increase in productivity by 18% in the last season from an average of 22 bags to 26 bags of 90 kgs.
The project also supported them to refurbish their store and provided them with farm post harvest hand
ling equipment like moisture meter which enabled the farmers to measure moisture level before storing the maize. This practice has seen a reduction of post harvest losses by 10% and equally increased the quality of maize under storage. Moreover the group received a digital weighing scale which increased their confidence when selling their produce as they knew the exact quantity.
Last season aggregation increased from about 3000 bags to 5,147 bags of 90 kgs and they were able to sell at better price due to good quality at Kshs. 2200 as compared to previous Kshs. 1700 per bag of 90 kg.
“Thanks to CGA and USAID KAVES we can now measures accurately the moisture content of our maize grain and avoid losses resulting from poor drying.’’ said Steve, a group member of Luyekhe Kazi na Maendeleo.
The group used the profit to strengthen their business, Equity Urgency Services. The members didn’t stop there; they are in the final process of transforming their group into a trading company so that they can increase their profit.
“The best decision we have made is invest in our farms which in turn is making us money,” said Boniface Nyongesa, a group member and the store operator. “We are now able to take care of our children’s needs and have created employment among our members and the community.” gleefully added Boniface.