Caroline’s top priority is providing for her family. After leaving her husband, Caroline started a new life with her three children. To pay rent and school fees she started rearing chickens and goats and growing kale to sell at the local market. Although her income was diversified, she was anxious about her ability to produce enough and find a stable market to buy her produce.
After 3 years of small-scale farming, Caroline joined the Kanoto Co-Operative Society where she was introduced to French beans farming. Despite her limited experience farming beans, she was able to produce over 300 kgs in her first harvest season.
But there was a challenge; the local market for beans was unreliable and prices were low. “I was only making losses, but I kept on farming, hoping for the best because farming was the only income-generating activity I could undertake,” she recalls.
In 2016, MEDA’s M-SAWA project partnered with VERT Ltd., a premium exporter of French beans. MEDA partnered with VERT to raise awareness of French bean production opportunities for farmers and facilitated education opportunities and global good agricultural practices (GAP) certification training.
In 2016, VERT connected with Caroline’s co-op and facilitated training on GAP and produce certification with support from the M-SAWA project. After the trainings, the co-op was awarded Global GAP certification. This certification standard is increasingly demanded by European markets and enables farmers to sell to more diversified markets, and consistently work with exporters like VERT that supply these growing markets.
This connection between VERT and the co-op not only offered a stable market for Caroline’s French beans, but also offered good prices and timely payment.
After partnering with VERT, Caroline was encouraged to increase production and take advantage of the good prices and reliable market. To ensure a consistent income, she began planting French beans on rotation. However, she still faced an additional challenge of having a constant supply of water all year. In partnership with other farmers in her region, she built an irrigation system. This enabled Caroline and other farmers to produce French beans year-round which increased their income significantly.
Through her increased income, Caroline can support her family and participate in the community as an advocate for farming and nutrition. With her success, she has encouraged other women in her community to start their own farms to provide for their families. She is now on the executive committee of the co-op that first introduced her to MEDA and VERT.
What’s up next for Caroline? Expansion. She is planning on increasing her 1-acre farm to 5 acres in 5 years’ time. The expansion of her business has made her financially secure so she can provide for her while also creating employment opportunities for her community.
-- Walter Tinega