Story By Eunice Kilonzo
Most farms in the larger Murang’a County teem with bananas, potatoes and tomatoes.
These crops are grown widely because there is ready market in Nairobi, Nyeri and Kiambu.
But in Muthithi, a location in the county, things are different. Here, many farmers have given the three crops a wide berth.
Acres upon acres of cassava resplendent in their green canopy colours this sprawling village in the Yatta Plateau, which receives minimum rainfall.
“It started just as an idea but now it is growing into an industry,” Michael Murigi, 24, the brainchild behind this change, told Seeds of Gold in his farm this week.
Having seen his parents and other villagers grow different crops with little success, Murigi, a Master of Economics student at the University of Nairobi, swore to change things.
“I had learned at the university that cassava is a drought-resistant crop, and I realised that this is what we needed in Muthithi.”
But there was a problem, Murigi did not know where to get quality seeds and how to go about making farmers embrace the crop.
“In 2010 while at second year, I approached PathWays, an organisation which, at the time was paying my fees in campus, to assist with the cassava project. They liked my idea and leased two acres for Sh10,000 a year for me to grow the crop,” says Murigi.
It is these two acres that would become the source of the cuttings and a spring of hope to this sleepy village.
The farmer knew he could not go alone in the project and succeed. He reached out to his friends and together they formed Focus Wise Self Help Group.
“We were 15 members. Each one of us contributed Sh1,000 which we used to buy improved cassava variety nodes from Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (Kari).”
“After getting the cuttings, we cut them into three parts and planted a metre apart horizontally,” he adds.