Domain of change (Project): Outreach
When did the change happen: Since 2010.
Name of storyteller: Francis Maina
Role of storyteller: CIW
Date of recording: 2nd of May 2019
Interviewer: Hudson Wereh
Given the harmful effects of chemical pesticides on our health and the current obsession with label reading for organic products by consumers, surely farmers must start producing organically to tap this growing opportunity. Right? That’s what Francis Maina thought in 2010. – at the time working with one horticultural company in Naivasha. But he was wrong, whereas he’d shudder at the thought of what the chemicals were doing to his health, farmers continued using agrochemicals oblivious of their effects.
Francis decided like the proverbial humming bird and the forest fire, he was going to do something whatever small. He quit his job at the horticulture company in Naivasha and went back to Gilgil to work on his farm using organic production principles. He had a challenge in accessing information of the relevant technologies to employ. He started volunteering with Biovision Africa Trust (BvAT) as a community information officer so that he would be used to train farmers and in turn get information to apply on his farm.
As luck would have it, a vacancy opened at BvAT and Francis was absorbed into outreach’s CIWs pool and now he’s one of the salaried CIWs working in Gilgil. Looking back, Francis does not regret his decision to quit his job in Naivasha. He is proud he has trained many farmers in his area.
When asked of the changes he’s proud of, Francis said;
“When I was working in Naivasha, I learnt to cultivate asparagus and so when I started training farmers on organic farming, I introduced them to organic cultivation of Asparagus. Organically produced asparagus is selling more than the chemical laden asparagus from Naivasha – farmers here sell it on their farms and a kilo goes for about Ksh 450 and one can produce up to 20 kilos per harvest per week per acre. Most of these block houses were built from asparagus”
Francis further explains that farmers can now make profits from farming. Their expenditure on inputs has reduced – most of their inputs are locally available and they don’t need to buy them. This makes it possible to make money from farming. Personally, Francis has managed to take his daughter back to college and he never lacks food unlike was the case when he worked in Naivasha.
These changes Francis attributes to the information he receives from BvAT and imparts in the farmers he works with. As well as use on his farm.
Story by Hudson Wereh