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Planting the seeds of a successful business

18 January 2016

Planting the seeds of a successful business

Eunice Nzisa Mutungam, a 41-year-old widow and mother of three, has set up her own business selling disease-resistant seeds, using the proceeds to put her children through school.

Kitui county, Kenya, where Nzisa and her family live, suffers from irregular rainfall, and the effects of climate change are making the situation worse. And as many farmers in the area only have access to low quality seeds and have never had training in soil fertility management and pest control, it can be a struggle to make ends meet. Until recently, Nzisa, the sole breadwinner for her family, consistently lost around 30% of her harvest. 

But things have changed for farmers like Nzisa since Farm Africa started work in the region. Nzisa belongs to one of the groups participating in the Sorghum and Green Gram Project and received training from Farm Africa on all aspects of planting and harvesting – from seed selection and multiplication through to post-harvest storage. Previously Nzisa had simply relied on the farming techniques used by her parents, but once she took account of changing rain patterns and began to plant crops more suited to the environment in Kisovo, her fortunes began to change.

Nzisa planted green grams on her land for the first time in 2015, harvesting 95 kg from 1.5 kg of seeds. Having stored and treated her seeds so that they were resistant to soil-borne diseases, Nzisa recognised how beneficial these seeds would be for other farmers in the area. She sold her seeds to farmers in nearby Nuu, earning Ksh 11,400 (about £78) – enough to pay her daughter’s college fees.

Now that Nzisa’s seed business is flourishing, she’s been able to invest in more fertiliser, certified seeds and pest control, so that her crops can go from strength to strength. And with the help of Farm Africa, she and other farmers in the area have organised themselves into a savings group – all the farmers contribute funds and can apply for credit for their agribusinesses when they need a loan. So Nzisa’s business can continue to grow, helping her children to receive a good education, and helping other farmers in Kitui county to benefit from improved seeds too.  

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