A farmers’ group born out of three (3) orphans in Machakos County with help from KALRO

When both parents of three school going children died in quick succession in Itithini Village of Muthetheni Location in Yathui Division of Mwala sub-County in Machakos County in 2001, as would in many communities neighbours visited to console and pray for the family. This family had only the three children to console. Three ladies were passionate about the visits afterwards, regularly bringing with them basic needs for the children. Such basics would include salt, sugar, cooking oil, match boxes and maize flour. After many such visits, the ladies agreed to fundraise to pay school fees and provide for future needs for the family. This meant soliciting for funds and material from the rest of willing villagers. The idea soon evolved into a group to not only care for the three children but many others in the Division. This is how the Utithini Women Orphan Child Care Group was started.

The ladies formed a group to cater for the increasing needs. They suggested various means of generating funds to meet the now growing family of orphaned children who were also graduating at different academic levels. Many ideas came up, among them approaching non-governmental organisations, contributing part of their farm produce in a pool for sale to raise funds, approaching the local parliamentary, other local leaders and prominent people for assistance. They settled for mango production and processing.

Except for clothing from the Red Cross and sale of pooled farm produce, the rest of the assistance was irregular. The ladies persisted and registered the group in 2004 with 27 members (membership is 24 now) and 80 orphaned children under its ambit.

The KALRO Centre at Katumani, under the auspices of the ASAL-APRP in its efforts to disseminate improved agricultural technologies met the group in 2010. KALRO introduced improved technologies and trained the group initially on mango production and later introduced other technologies including amaranth and other African Leafy Vegetables. KALRO gave the Group its first amaranth seed. Among the training aspects covered were production, storage, processing, value addition, marketing and book-keeping.

Through concerted efforts, the group started and runs a shop at the local Itithini shopping Centre from which it sells its value-added products. The shop also acts as a ware house and bulking centre for produce bought by the group from other farmers. It has also benefited variously from other donors and working partners by way of equipment

KALRO has helped the group acquire equipment including a solar drier and a machine to roast and pop amaranth. KALRO also organised farmer exchange visits for example to Mbuvo Commercial Cassava Marketing Village to share experiences.