Reducing losses and supporting Community Economic Growth Through Sorghum and Soya

In 2018, David Onyunde began sorghum farming on his 1-acre piece of land in Siaya county. When he started production, David had limited knowledge of sorghum farming and post-harvest produce management: “I would dry my sorghum directly on the ground and would therefore lose part of my harvest due to contamination. Thereafter, I would store the remainder of my produce on gunnysacks that were susceptible to pest[s] and diseases, ” David said.

This changed for David when he began engaging with Transu Limited as part of the M-SAWA project, implemented by MEDA and funded by Global Affairs Canada (GAC). Through its partnership with M-SAWA, Transu aims to support 4,000 cereal farmers in Migori, Homabay and Siaya counties to increase productivity and reduce post-harvest losses. Transu also offers a ready offtake market for sorghum and soybean farmers.

The partnership between MEDA and Transu has enabled sorghum farmers like David to access farming technologies like hermetic bags which improve storage through decreased pest, diseases and wastage. As a result, it reduces post-harvest losses through a cost-share program. The company also promoted and distributed tarpaulins as a practical technology to decrease waste while drying sorghum. “By using tarpaulins for drying sorghum, I am able to sell better quality produce that is not mixed with sand at a higher price,” David said.

The farmers were also offered good agricultural practices (GAP) training, financial access and the use of technologies. By targeting farmer groups, Transu Ltd. facilitated the acquisition of threshers – a technology useful in effectively separating sorghum seeds from their stalks. Farmers have then eliminated post-harvest losses by adopting these technologies and applying knowledge gained from the practical trainings.

Another important element of MEDA’s work with Transu is the promotion of a crop insurance product to help cushion farmers against losses. David was hopeful about the potential positive impact of this activity. “Quelea birds and other natural calamities will remain a challenge especially because this region experienced hailstorms in 2018, fall armyworms and flooding,” David reflected.

Through David’s participation in the project, the quality of his produce has improved along with his income. David has now leased an additional 3 acres of land for his farming enterprise. To diversify his income, he plans to expand his current chicken and horticulture production and explore opportunities to add increased value to existing crops like ground nuts.

Working with M-SAWA has provided David with an opportunity to share what he has learned with other farmers in his community. He became a lead farmer in 2019 and Transu Ltd. extended additional training opportunities on crop management. It also developed his sorghum farmer trainer skills. Farmers that were present during MEDA’s interview with David noted that he was keen to recruit them to farm sorghum and soya beans because it is the most marketable crop in the region. Transitioning to these crops has significantly improved their living standards as they now have increased their income to satisfy their basic needs and to educate their children.

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  • Janet Mumassabba

    Janet has 8 years’ experience working in the development sector supporting SME enterprises' growth. Currently, she is the Regional Operation Manager for MEDA's LEGEND Project in Kenya. She holds an MBA in Strategic Management, a bachelor’s in enterprise development and Management and Accounting skills.
    She is a highly motivated self-starter organized and detail-oriented, a team player with multi-tasking and analytical skills, possessing written and verbal communication skills to effectively interact and communicate with all levels of management, staff, and clients. She

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