is a famous vegetable farmer in Maua village, within Makueni County. She plants
cabbages, terere (Amaranthus), managu (nightshade), onions and spinach. Hellen
supplies her vegetables to traders who in turn sells to various markets within
three times a week. At every harvest, Hellen pockets KSh 600, which totals up
to KSh 1800 in a week. “This money helps me to comfortably pay bills for my
family. I can even afford luxury life,” says Hellen with a smile all over her
face. The capacity of the pond is 500 cubic meters, Hellen plants high value
vegetables on ¼ acre on which she can continue producing vegetables for at
least 2 months after the rains
using the proceeds from the farm to fend for her family, Hellen supports needy
children from her area, including paying their school fees. This, she explains,
how she gives back to the society.
As she laughs
all the way to the bank, life however hasn’t been easy for Hellen, who is a
widow. Challenges started after she lost her husband, who was the breadwinner.
“We depended entirely on him. So after his death, we were left in the cold. No
one was willing to support us financially,” she narrates.
any option, Hellen had to look for a way to start fending for her children. She
started doing menial jobs. At times, her children had to accompany and help her
do the works.
“I used to do the menial jobs with my older children, who had completed their
studies. Those that were still in primary school would go to school as the rest
of us worked.”
years of menial jobs, in 2019, Hellen was linked to the National Agricultural
and Rural Inclusive Growth Project (NARIGP), a Government of Kenya (GoK)
project that is implemented through the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock
Fisheries and Irrigation (MoALF&I), State Department for Crop Development
(SDCD), with funding support from the World Bank.
explains that she was among those NARIGP chose to help in tilling their lands.
Since she had no land of her own, the officers intervened and asked her father
to allow her use land in planting vegetables. When he agreed, the tractor came
and dug the land.
started with cabbages. She shares that since Makueni is an arid area, her
immediate challenge was lack of water. “Lack of water became my immediate
challenge. I wasn’t sure whether l will manage cabbages without water,” she
determined to succeed, Hellen with the help of her children, started by
fetching water from a nearby river and irrigating her land. Her hard work,
started paying off after her vegetables matured. People who saw her vegetables
farm started coming to buy from her. Soon, word spread like bushfire that she
had vegetables, and people came from all directions to purchase cabbages.
“By the time
l had harvested all the cabbages from the farm, l had made some good money. For
the first time, l realized there is money in the farm,” she explains.
to expand her farming activities, by using some of the money she had got from
selling cabbages so as to increase her income in the next harvesting season.
Hellen hired another piece of land and planted cabbages, terere, managu, onions
In the next
harvesting, Hellen made even more money. She now paid school fees for her
children with ease. Nowadays, she has several lands she has hired.
She used the
money from farming to purchase irrigation equipment. Water challenges is now a
thing of the past, to her. Hellen uses hosepipe to water her land, which makes
her work, much easier and harvests her vegetables throughout year.
her children now appreciates farming and offer her great support in the farm.
“I owe it to NARIGP. It has taught me that there is money in farming, if you
want to. Farming is now my daily job,” she says happily.
Hellen has also had fair share of challenges in the farm. She explains, “The
challenges we face as women is tilling the land. Casual labourers do not know
how land should be apportioned, so I have to do it myself. When my children
come, they are the ones I engage to help me till the land.”
Also, once in
a while, her watering machines breaks down, and the technicians available
charges her a lot of money to repair. She says, “Right now, my water pump is
broken down and fixing it is quite expensive. I need someone who will charge me
however is encouraging farmers, especially women and youths to invest in
farming since there lies a fortune. She says, there are also many organizations
like NARIGP that can support them through training and input and equipment.