Breaking the Cycle of Feast and Famine in Kenya

Lucy is helping to inspire change in her farming community.

Two of the biggest challenges facing smallholder farmers in Kenya are money and markets. They are typically isolated from markets where they could earn more for their goods and they can’t access funding to sustain their families while they wait to harvest their crops. Even harvest time can bring added complications: prices are lowest then and most farmers cannot afford to wait to sell their crops when prices increase, and as a result earn little or no profits.

Lucy Kirito is part of a new effort to help farmers. She is a Village Knowledge Worker in Grameen Foundation’s e-warehouse project. The mobile-based system is designed to help farmers properly store and manage their crops, link to a financial institution to secure partial advances against the value of their stored crop, and connect with markets for final sale when prices increase.

Lucy is responsible for collecting data on farmer registrations, harvests, and sales, and providing farmers with follow-up information from the training they receive on post-harvest management.

Her experience has made her an ardent supporter of the project and she believes it holds immense potential for farmers to increase their income.

“Those who chose to store their harvest are really seeing the benefits now. Farmers are very happy with the project,” she said.

Lucy herself is an example of a smallholder farmer who has benefited from the program. She owns five acres of land and uses most of it to rear cattle and grow maize, beans, pigeon peas and dolichos beans with her husband and four children. She lost no crops this past harvest, and was able to earn 50 percent more for her maize because she registered it in the e-Warehouse, and delayed the sale until prices were higher.

She enjoys her work as a Village Knowledge Worker, saying “it gives me a chance to interact with, and help, many different people.” It has also helped to make her a respected member of her community, where she is now viewed as a source of important knowledge and information.

She has also used her additional earnings from her activities to hire an additional person to help look after her cattle.

Lucy hopes to continue her work as a Village Knowledge Worker so that she can help others in her community and in other areas.

The e-warehouse project is part of Grameen Foundation’s commitment to building and strengthening networks that can deliver both financial services and essential information to farmers. It is being done in collaboration with Farm Concern International (FCI) and with support from USAID.