By Nancy Juma
September 03, 2017
Before she decided to switch to StrigAway, the yield from Eunice Anyango’s five-acre farm could barely feed her family, with any little surplus being sold in tiny 2-kg tins known as gorogoro in the local market.
“We would faithfully plant the variety known locally as ‘farmer’s choice’ and wait for the little harvest. Whatever was not eaten by kayongo would come out stunted but we had no option but to hope for a better harvest the following season,” says Eunice.
Immaculately dressed and speaking in perfect English, Eunice is quick to point out that she believes those days are behind her.
“I am no longer a small farmer packing maize in small tins to take to the local retail market. I am now supplying maize to the local boarding school and I cannot forget the first time I held a cheque worth Sh. 100,000 in my hands!” she says proudly.
Like many other farmers here in Nyakach, Kisumu County, Eunice was for long at the mercy of the devastation caused by striga weed on her farm. Despite her faithful use of fertilizer, weeding and spraying, the most she would harvest from the five acres was three 90-kg bags.
It was while attending a field demonstration led by Caleb Odede, a field officer with AATF, that Eunice first heard of StrigAway. She saw how the demonstration farm had thrived after using the herbicide-coated maize seed that was being sold locally under the name Ua Kayongo.
She also received some tips on modern farming that she says have helped her improve her yield.
“Previously I would place up to four seeds in a furrow in the hopes that some would germinate, I did not know that I was making matters worse as besides competing with the striga weed, the maize was also competing thereby making a bad situation worse,” she says.
Four years later, Eunice has enough harvest to enable her store some as she waits for times when the demand for maize is high. Her family is comfortably paying for their son’s university, and they have even started constructing a permanent home.
“Our house is done up to lintel stage and my husband can even afford time off from his welding business to supervise the construction. We have really become the envy of many people around here,” says Eunice.
Working with Caleb, Eunice is now keen on spreading the good news to neighbouring farmers. As we take a walk through her 5 acre farm, she points out a striga-infested section which she says she has been using to demonstrate to other farmers the difference between strigAway maize seeds and the local variety.
“I decided to sacrifice this small area to convince them. I want them to do well too so that they come out of poverty,” she says.
Besides the maize on her farm, she has planted vegetables, sweet potatoes and cassava to supplement her diet, and plans to buy some dairy cattle. She admits it is hard work and often goes without lunch, but she feels the outcome is worth it.
“When I look at my former colleagues who are still employed by the municipal council, I am happy I made the right choice,” says Eunice.