Bioversity International: Please share with us a brief history of your group, what has been keeping you busy and how you have been collaborating with Bioversity International over the years?
Kyanika Adult Women Group: Our group was formed on 20 April 1989. It started as a self-help group involved in tree planting (with the help of the Ministry of Agriculture), beading and weaving sisal ropes and baskets, locally known as viondoo (facilitated by the National Museums of Kenya) which were sold for income. At the beginning, we had 26 members, but currently the group is made up of 24 members.
Bioversity International started collaborating with us in 2000. It started with gourd farming and tree planting, and then later progressed to farming of traditional leafy vegetables in 2002. The vegetable farming initiative was embraced by the group members because it presented an alternative and reliable source of livelihood. Vegetables are a fast-moving and basic commodity, hence an assured source of income in addition to nourishing our households thus ensuring improved nutrition and health status.
Through numerous trainings facilitated by Bioversity International, our members mastered the art of selecting healthy tree and traditional vegetables seeds for conserving and selling.
Vegetable farming is practiced at individual level in kitchen gardens – small, personal gardens often located right outside our kitchen windows. Whereas as a group, we are involved in the cultivation of sorghum, beans and mung beans which are sold and the earnings shared among members and also re-invested in the farming activities.
Poultry keeping is also an activity the group members engage in for both domestic and commercial purposes. After the sale of farm produce, members are encouraged to invest the money in poultry keeping. They place chicken as a source of quick income. That in the case of an urgent need for money, we sell chickens and eggs to meet the need.
We are proud to have used the proceeds from the sale of gourds and tree seedlings to purchase a plot of land on which we will put up a shop to grow our gourd and seed business.