Once dry and highly affected by poor climate, Kairi village in Gatundu North, Kiambu County is now crowded with assorted vegetables, arrowroots, avocados among other commercially beneficial crops.
In the former years, locals used to survive on relief foods and donations from well-wishers as they hardly practiced farming.
Tucked between Chania and famous Karimenu rivers, farmers in the sleepy and hilly village are now leaving nothing to chance in their quest to make it the food hub not only in the constituency but also beyond Kiambu County.
Infamously known for high uptake of illicit brews and other outlawed substances, concerned locals have for the last four years been working to transform the village into an agricultural centre, ready to feed Kenyans and the world.
With limited land sizes, farmers here have formed cluster groups through which they pull resources to plant various forms of crops for export to Korea and Japan.
Under the umbrella of Chania United Initiative, at least 736 farmers are walking the journey towards strengthening food security and rural livelihoods while adapting agriculture to climate change impacts.
Moses Ngige Kaigai, the farmers chairman says he birthed the idea after years of watching local farmers struggle with empty pockets despite having fertile land potentially capable of becoming their source of gold.
To ensure farmers earn the best bargaining power at the market, Ngige stated farmers formed cluster groups from which they have been farming and jointly exporting their produce.
For maximum returns from their increased production, Ngige revealed that farmers have embraced modern farming techniques that guarantee sustainability.
That Gatundu North is known for the wrong reasons among them manufacture of illicit brews at the banks of Chania River, the farmers are working towards converting the river into a constructive source of water for irrigation and ultimately give the constituency a better name.
“This is a new dawn for Gatundu North that is known for all evils among them manufacture, sale and abuse of outlawed substances. We want to change that narrative by ensuring we become the food hub to feed Kenya and the world,” said Ngige.
Despite their commendable efforts, the farmers are still grappling with expensive costs of pesticides which they blame for high production costs and urged the government to intervene for maximum returns.
According to Roseline Njoroge, the cluster groups which have bettered their economies of scale for maximum profits have been farming Spinach, African nightshade (Managu), tomatoes and Courgettes which are often harvested in two months for exportation.
In their list of valuable crops, the farmers are also keen to massively plant avocado, arrowroots and kales which have high returns.
While acclaiming lack of middle-men in their exportation business, Wanjiru however decried that small sizes of land in the area have been derailing their large-scale food production endeavour and urged the government to avail enough parcels for more production.
“We have the ability and the capacity to feed the world. Given enough land and resources, the ideas we have can make Kenya food sustainable and even grow more for sale overseas,” said Wanjiru.
According to Gatung’u Kamuhunjia, a youngster who was pushed to the village by Covid-19, farming is lucrative and youngsters should stop complaining there are no jobs.
Kamuhunjia took issue with his fellow youths for abusing alcohol instead of engaging in meaningful nation-building activities.
“To my fellow youths who are abusing alcohol, stop giving up. Form cluster groups and together, start income generating activities to help you grow economically,” he advised.