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Cassava processing project lifts Kenyan women A COTTAGE indust I}' thaI USI5



raw l!'Iacenid r~

the m.lnur.tcrun of various productS ha.<; not only

imprO'o'ed 1M Inco nes of pt'Gpie In paruolMaJru611 County o(Easlem Ken}'d bu [ has direct-

ly addressed fhll! chaltenge of v.'Orncn


In a

way. The sm.U as.sava processing


Industty is a projet tthat adds YiIlue to me ~\.J crop that does Ye'ry 'M'II in his region. IU decades If no centuries, rannm haw found little useol cassava. apan frorr using II as food . . Now. Ui5iiliJ 15 being

rocessed into limrock r.manufactun .md as a lnatrrlal for of • r.nch. The nOtJ,


imention Is 10 diYt rsifv use of the crop In onlcr ro rn~

earnings that fanners nlilke from IL . When ~ Nyo e. a middle aged farm«. was.u!cEd if she is a leach~ by profession, h~

laugh w.lS Iolu:f.mel P'!!longai. -why the \aU~7 She was asked. A1thou the aJ1s-J'" dkl niX come mmedlalel)t it btcomedearer latr-that NYoIe barely ~t beyon I CLus) In

primary schoo~ knocking her OUt of reach of the teaching pro-

fession. . . The reason she wa5 ilSked ls beQusc of her cJtomunor. She was dean, neat and ~re maintained hair, lie a teacher would ~. But, N.,uIe Is a subsistence fanner. S11C grows, maize and sorghwn Sh~ also rears SOchickeri mostlyforromm~rdal


purpose_ husband Is a hawker In

Woc:l' Town, ~ largf'Sl urban ant~ in ~ Potlkueni Count}t Togr:rner, thq' haw: nised fi~ children, aU of them in variOus stages of schooling. SIlf'lsalsoa memberofMbuvo Comrrlt!rdal Wlai!l". which is a fOrm.l1 group 01S60 cassavagrowing fanners. When Ihf')' harvest: lheircrop, theypool flKo harvest togeth~ and pt'I)CeSS at rhC' smalr milling plant they iw."C'set up a[ MblivU shopping (C'nll'r_ Cassava is either milled Imo Ilour or chlppcod and dried for sale to Indusuial UStt5 like 1IwSlOCk food manufacturers. The group also runs a hole! a[ thC' mopping crnr~ th.u they 5C'lI chapattis and other products madC' from cassava.

-I do not face small problems:


Com~1 '110", "" Im",oed on lIer IIfC'. "'Womm ilia: me are now ablC' to afford grooming at the hair salon, whkh was flO( thC' Cil5Ie before and our men an" h~ about It. The rornmerdal village Is 11 model of farmers' cxpnisalion bC';ngdriYconbyFannUJllCMl.,a fl:OO:PI:Olit group with the prindpaiaJm of linding markets for c.assava fannt,'T$_ Togetherwith parmm like thC' Kcnp AgricultufC Research InstJ[ure (Kt\R.I), thcoy provide farmers with beller cassava ~, educate them on crop husbandry and suppon them with machines 10 process the cri1:~n, IhC' fanners all!' connect: ed with Indusuial buyers of cassava avokllng lhe brOkers who Ik«e farmers. ~ project was

stant<! In 1010. . N'tole said as a result of the benefits she has .seen from the project. she plans 10 increase the amounl of land planted with CilSSiIVa from one 10 ~ acres becawt' lht'll' Is a ready market.


she has hem among those women encouraging her- colleagues In the rommcrdal 'iflIa~ to SiIYt' I'TlOf"I! so thallhey enJOY brtter- opporrunities ro gl!t loanl.. "Most of the Sd...eT$ here an" women. Bur we all!' saying the lew.] of Silvlngs Is not ~( enough so we h..Jo.oelOsaYee'¥'en more and this is somethin1,i that they appreciate. Nycle suppleJ!1f!nts hC'r cassava Income with that of othC'r crops and the chicken. During the edUGIoon sessions hcld for yet (0 do. _ the Carmers. they are taught "'This project has helped me Importana of dlversinGtem~women.someoflhe rIon of their soun:('S of income food. • women memix'rs hav!! takrn and As a result, [amlly Il!'latlons loons 10 set up businesses or take are of other ctpenses In have ImpfO'l'ed. Her husband the family:They do not hiI...e to does not illwar.s have to worry walt until lhe man brings what me I'iImlly will eat. He is mOnl!Y home: said Nyore. also happy that the wife can add to the f.amily incomC',

Sh~ Is among 398 women, compared 10 168 men, who ~ members of the rommettial village and plOJying OJn iICtiW' roll! to t'IlSLIre the SUca5$ of Ihe venture thOJt has incro-duad ~ IndUStl)' In the sleeoY 'ifllagt' located along (he ro;ul"linking WOlf! Town to Makindu, along the N.Jirobl· Mombasa Road. like many other women Im'mixn;, she has saved lhrou~ LIlC' project's microfinance radlilyand Is eligible 10 apply for a lOan, whkn she is

enabling them to plan for future family investments.. Perusing through the files of the MbovLi ComrYlC'fda1 Village microfinance, the name of Fe:l1stas Ndanu Kaundacatches my attl'llUon beciiusc among the Joan application Illes. she Is the )OI.mgcst. applkant and Is also a woman. /1125 yearsokl. shC' represents the new breed of young ~men. who a~ embracing agriculture as SOUIU of UveU.. hOod. She fanns cassava, maize



dfler successfully repaying the prNousone lOr 116dollars.She used the p~ous 1000n to plant cowpeas lhar shC' har\lt'sted and sold. lnc:rNSJng her savIngs thai she Is now USing as part of colLateral

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She is applylng fru- a 350 U.s. dollar loan, her sKood tranche