by Dennis Mayaka and Katie West
Fredrick is a Kenyan farmer who harvests chillies on the six acres of land he inherited from his father.
Fredrick initially focused on the production of horticultural products like eggplant and sweet potato but struggled to market his produce effectively at local markets. He was left with inconsistent income and financial stress – especially during the dry season. “We had to work hard to market our own produce and eat the remainder at our homestead. This eventually led to my farmer community group disintegrating due to lack of markets.”
This changed when he allied with MEDA partner, Equator Kenya Limited (EKL) and began producing African Bird’s Eye (ABE) Chilies and selling directly to that company. “Equator came to my village in 2012 and introduced us to chilli farming – and they had an assured market. The company established a demonstration farm where we could go for training on transplant methods, fertilizer application and harvesting practices,” said Fredrick.
In 2016, MEDA partnered with Equator through the M-SAWA project. The aim of the project is to sustain Equator’s support to farmers like Fredrick through additional trainings on Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) including nursery management and irrigation systems while also providing a ready market for chillies.
In March 2019, Equator qualified for MEDA’s technology grant where they introduced drip kits to Fredrick and other Equator suppliers at a discounted price through a matching grant.
Fredrick reported that after his drip kit was installed, he was able to use water more efficiently and now does not rely strictly on rainfall. “The drip kit has helped me because I can plant and harvest chillies even during the dry season,” says Fredrick.
Fredrick is proud to report that his harvest has significantly increased. “Previously, I used to harvest 180 kgs of chillies – with the drip kit I expect to harvest 540 kgs yearly.”
Fredrick has used some of his income to purchase solar panels for his house and two goats. He plans to further expand his ABE chilli production to maximize his income, increasing the number of chili bushes from 1,500 to 5,000 bushes by 2020.