By David Waiyaki, Faith Nyagwoka and Alex Hori
With a booming chilies market in Kenya, Equator Kenya Limited’s (EKL) business is thriving. Over the past three years of involvement with MEDA’s M-SAWA project, funded by Global Affairs Canada (GAC), EKL has worked with nearly 8,000 (mostly women) farmers and provided 1,000 farmers with access to drip irrigation kits and water harvesting structures. This grant initiative with M-SAWA has also provided thousands of farmers with access to markets to sell their chilies in Kilifi, Lamu, and Kwale counties.
To meet the company’s growing demand, EKL expanded its farmer base and persuaded farmers to switch from rain to irrigation-produced agriculture, which provides a more consistent water source throughout the year.
“There has been a tremendous increase in production in the last reporting quarter due to the increase in the number of farmer producers using drip irrigation and other irrigation systems. The solar irrigation system has proved to be a success and the trial plants are now at [the] harvesting stage,” Daniel Mbuvi, EKL Finance and Administration Manager, said.
EKL has made great progress in training its farmers with the support of M-SAWA. These farmers learn various agricultural techniques, ranging from irrigation systems to biopesticides. The training sessions have led to great results, enabling EKL to increase its volume of produce, which secures better incomes for farmers and consistent employment for staff.
“With the support of the MEDA grant, EKL has been able to improve the overall productivity of the farmers by supporting training program[s] ranging from nutrient and irrigation systems to safe use of biopesticides, organizing field days, and setting up 34 demonstration farms against a target of 15 demo farms,” Mbuvi said.
However, access to a reliable source of water remains a constant challenge. To address this, MEDA and EKL implemented Phase 2 of the project and is teaching new irrigation technologies to enable these chili farmers to maximize their water usage. With essential training and improved access to financial services, MEDA is ensuring that farmers can continue producing high quality chilies and that EKL can meet the demands of this growing market.