Caren Akinyi’s Success with OFSP

Her expertise in Orange Fleshed Sweet Potatoes farming becomes immediately evident as she
passionately recounts how the training offered by Africa Harvest completely transformed her life. Caren Akinyi, aged 31, wears two hats as both a farmer and the Agricultural Officer for Bukhayo West Ward in Busia County.

Before her involvement with the project, Caren expressed that she had never realized the potential of earning income from agriculture. She remarked, “I used to think I could only cultivate maize and beans for our family’s food. It was surprising to discover that I could grow something and have money in my pocket within just a few months.”

The mother of three emphasized that farming serves as a valuable and easily manageable side business for her. “Working for the government can sometimes result in delayed salaries. Therefore, farming has proven to be quite useful to buttress the financial challenges faced as a result of delayed salaries”, she explained.

She attributes her expertise to Africa Harvest, which provided training in various aspects of OFSP farming, including land preparation techniques such as ridging, seed production, weed control, and marketing. She
explained that this knowledge transformed her
approach to OFSP farming, making it more informed.

For instance, before the project’s intervention, Caren had never utilized ridging, a practice she found to be highly impactful. “Previously, we used to plant sweet potatoes on flat land, similar to how we did with maize. This method would often damage the seeds during harvesting. However, with ridges, the seeds remain intact and well-protected. Ridges also retain moisture, which proves invaluable during dry weather conditions,” she elaborated.

Seed production is another area of the training she grabbed and ran with. To this day, she cultivates OFSP seeds on a modest plot of land and sells them. She fondly remembers when she sold 50 bags of seeds for 800 each, resulting in a total of KES 40,000.

Following the training, Caren also leased two acres of land and cultivated Irene and Kabode varieties,
applying all the skills she had learned.

To her amazement, she harvested 28 bags of produce and sold them at 3,600 each, earning KES 100,800.
“I had such a bountiful harvest that even the
landowner became envious. He couldn’t believe I had turned a previously unused piece of land into a
profitable venture.”

Regrettably, he declined to lease it to her again. Undeterred, Elizabeth is hopeful that she will be able to purchase land soon. Cultivating OFSPs brought about a substantial improvement in Caren’s financial situation. This newfound stability allowed her to contribute to her community by conducting training sessions, donating sweet potatoes to nearby schools, providing free seeds to those less fortunate, and more. She also played a pivotal role in assisting her father in completing his house and covering her siblings’ school fees. Caren expressed her gratitude and wished that others could experience the same benefits she has.

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