What you need to know:
- The world day aims to highlight the role of rural women in food production and food security.
- The project will be promoting competitiveness and market access for herbs and spices in Nakuru County.
- It also focuses on groundnuts, mangoes, passion fruits, chili, macadamia, French beans and snow peas value chains.
- EU Ambassador to Kenya Simon Mordue says the union is committed to supporting and empowering women.
On a late afternoon in Mbegi ya Akorino Village in Gilgil, Nakuru County, Regina Nderitu is busy at her mint plantation.
A retired teacher, Regina is hopeful for a bumper harvest of this herb which she has been growing for the last one year.
Her farming journey goes back two years ago when she started growing various indigenous and exotic vegetables, including black night shade, purple cabbage and lettuce, among others.
However, she found growing of vegetables to be work-intensive, especially because she had to be in the farm almost daily.
“Vegetables are also expensive to grow because there is so much labour demand unlike mint which requires just weeding and a little more of tendering,” says Regina.
In order to learn about herbs farming, Regina toured several herbs farms where she learnt not only by listening but also by observing what was being done.
She then bought her initial seedlings from another farmer and a private company which specialises in propagation of seedlings.
Regina grows mint on a one-acre piece of land but hopes to eventually have her whole farm utilised by diversifying to other herbs like dill, thyme, chives and coriander.
From the one-acre piece of land, she used to harvest cabbages worth between Sh80,000 and Sh120,000. But from the same piece of land, mint now gives her between Sh240,000 and Sh280,000, she says.
She hopes to be among the farmers who will benefit from a European Union-funded project which will be promoting competitiveness and market access for herbs and spices in Nakuru County.
Dubbed Market Access Upgrade Programme (MARKUP) Kenya, the project is implemented by the United Nations Industrial Organisation (Unido) in partnership with the government and the private sector.
MARKUP is implemented in 12 counties.
In addition to herbs and spices, the project also focuses on groundnuts, mangoes, passion fruits, chili, macadamia, French beans and snow peas value chains.
“I look forward to be trained through this project, to network with other like-minded people and to be linked to markets both locally and internationally,” says Regina.
Global day for rural women
Every year, on October 15, the UN International Day for Rural Women is marked. It aims to highlight the role of rural women in food production and food security.
EU Ambassador to Kenya Simon Mordue says the union is committed to supporting and empowering women.
He adds that women are well recognised for their role in development, adding that what needs to be done is to support them effectively so that their roles are accomplished.
MARKUP Kenya National Coordinator Maina Karuiru says the project is keen on supporting women as they are key in the agriculture value chain.
“MARKUP project is deeply committed to support women so that they can become part of the agriculture supply chain,” says Mr Karuiru.
Women, Mr Karuiru adds, form the bulk of labour providers in the agriculture and horticulture sectors and will, therefore, need empowerment so that they can improve their income.
“When we involve women in agriculture, we are going to enhance stable families and create a healthy nation,” he says.
Nakuru County Executive Committee Member for Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Immaculate Maina has called on women to come out of their comfort zones and build the nation through agribusiness.
MARKUP project, she adds, will give Nakuru County an opportunity for crop diversification. This is especially because many farmers in this area are known to concentrate on dairy, potato and maize farming.
Women and youth, she adds, have an opportunity in herbs farming, especially because one does not require a big piece of land.
She urges small-holder farmers to join hands and seek markets locally, regionally and internationally.
Dr Maina praised the EU for funding the MARKUP project, adding that she is optimistic that after its implementation, it will have great impact, especially on women and youth.
Through the project, participants will benefit through training, networking and market linkages.