By Jeckonia Otieno
Some farmers in the country are taking up genetically modified farming fast as its returns are quicker and richer. But some farmers in Molo, Nakuru County, have decided to stick to growing organic food not only for healthy living but also to improve their economic status.
At 60, Mama Jane Muthoni is still going strong. Apart from eating healthy organic foods, she is also selling her naturally grown food for some good money.
A few years ago, Muthoni and other women started a women’s group which grew vegetables, potatoes, beans and nappier grass but as the group grew, the 40 women started to rear the indigenous Molo wool sheep.
Each member was able to purchase the first sheep through a loan of Sh5,000 advanced by the group.
And things were looking up. Then suddenly, following the disputed 2007 elections and the chaos that followed, the group was thrown into disarray as many members quit. Those who remained had to start all over again.
They started growing nettle, which is widely used in the preparation of mukimo (mashed potatoes mixed with maize).
Then the women discovered nettle had more uses than just making mukimo. The vegetable, whose name literally means ‘I burn’, is rich in potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, iodine, silicon, sodium and sulphur, among other minerals. Nettle is also used as medicine for respiratory tract problems as well as medicine for people with asthma, chronic coughs, flu, common cold, bronchitis and pneumonia.
It is in light of these that the women dry the nettle leaves and grind them. This is then mixed with flour to make porridge. Muthoni, in her wisdom, says the vegetable is also good for the “cleaning of blood of toxic substances”.
Many people around Kirigiti, where Muthoni comes from, mix the ground leaves with water and drink it.
Peace for prosperity
“The leaves take only one month to mature after planting, which makes it easy for the plant to be managed.
Currently, the group’s rich market captures residents of Elburgon, Molo, Njoro and Mau Summit. The women hope to increase their market with only one wish, that there is peace in next year’s elections.
Because of their determination to succeed, the women have been trained by Network for Ecofarming in Africa, and they are certain their farming prospects can only grow.