- Seed Change Executive Director, Leticia Ama said she was glad that the facility could offer solutions, especially to women farmers at the grassroots.
- A farmer, Jane Wanjiku said they were previously selling their organic vegetables at the same price as the non-organically grown produce but with the commissioning of Nyakazi Organics, agro-ecological farmers were set to earn more.
Organic farmers in several settlement schemes in Gilgil Sub-County of Nakuru can have value for their work after two organisations put up an organic produce aggregations centre.
Seed Savers Network Kenya in partnership with Seed Change, a Canadian-based organisation has constructed the aggregation centre on a one-acre piece of land at the shores of Lake Elelmentaita which is meant to reduce wastage of organically grown vegetables.
Seed Change Executive Director, Leticia Ama said the centre was a full pack-house complete with a collection and weighing area, vegetable selection tables, washing sinks, hot water taps for branching the greens and solar dryers.
“After drying, the vegetables are packed in semi-khaki zip-lock papers ready for storage, distribution and sale in different parts of the country,” she said.
Ama said the produce was meant for territorial and local markets, unlike many organisations that target the international markets while leaving a citizenry that needs food.
She said her organisation was supporting territorial, local markets because it also ensures that money stays within the communities instead of taking it elsewhere to buy food yet they have sold their quality organic produce overseas.
Speaking when the aggregation centre dubbed Nyakazi Organics was officially commissioned, Ama said she was glad that the facility could offer solutions, especially to women farmers at the grassroots.
Seed Savers Network Coordinator, Daniel Wanjama said through the partnership with Seed Change, another two aggregation centres will be built at different strategic points in the vast Gilgil area to cater for hundreds of farmers who have embraced organic farming and seed saving.
He revealed that farmers have been asking for an aggregation centre and access to organic markets in order to get value for their produce.
“Agro-ecological farmers in the area have been asking to have market access specifically for their organic produce because when they go to the general market, there is no recognition for their effort in producing chemical-free food,” he said.
Wanjama observed that organic food markets were mostly in the cities, far away from the small-scale holder farmers and thus the need for aggregation.
On how they will ensure that the products delivered at Nyakazi Organics and the other two aggregation points are authentically organic, he says the two organisations will be using Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) by the lead farmers.
“We have been working with these farmers for more than two decades now, we know their groups and the lead farmers know them very well,” he said.
A farmer, Jane Wanjiku from Gema Settlement Scheme said they were selling their organic vegetables at the same price as the non-organically grown produce but with the commissioning of Nyakazi Organics, agro-ecological farmers were set to earn more.
“We were selling the produce at any cost because we did not have a choice, vegetables are highly perishable and they need to be harvested once they are ready,” she said.
She added that with the dryers in the aggregation centre, farmers can dry their vegetables and package them and sell them later unlike previously when they were compelled to either sell or let it rot on the farms.
She said another advantage of the facility was the scale of measurement using kilograms unlike previously when they could measure using hands.
The market comes at a time many people are cautious about the food they eat, amid increasing cases of lifestyle diseases.