Mrs. Neema Bakari of Kimorigo village is a smallholder farmer who is an active member of Eldoro Irrigation Scheme is slowly but steadily rising above the odds and challenges as a smallholder farmer is happy to narrate her successes in banana farming. Neema has been cultivating bananas for three years from 2013 on her three (3) acre piece of land. Mrs. Neema is a beneficiary of capacity building events facilitated by Farm Concern International (FCI) through collection center leaders on market led production, business development and entrepreneurship courtesy of USAID Kenya Agricultural Value Chain Enterprises Programme. These capacity building events have seen her adopt good agronomic practices as well as practice market-led production.

Mrs. Neema`s approach on market led production has been gradual but strategic since she is replacing old variety (Kimalindi) banana plants with the improved variety plantlets called Williams. This is because Williams is more resistant to pests and diseases especially the deadly leaf spot Sigatoka disease and matures earlier with more yields compared to local varieties Kimalindi and Kinguruwe. Neema has learnt about record keeping and budgeting skills and has been able to fully appreciate farming as her current livelihood and a potential employer to many others.

Neema began selling her bananas collectively as part of a consignment to Taveta and Kongowea market from May this year through Eldoro Samburu II aggregation cente. On average she is able to harvest up to 40 bunches a week which she sales at Ksh350 (USD3.4) per bunch, whereas in the previous months selling the same size of banana bunch at between Kshs.200-250 (USD1.96-2.45) through local agents. Neema appreciates the market linkages FCI has facilitated since she can now earn an extra Kshs100 (USD 98 cents) per bunch.

As a result of the established business relationship and market linkage, Mrs. Neema, who is sole breadwinner, has gained a sizable and sustainable income.

Neema has used her proceeds to pay school fees for her two children one in Polytechnic and one in primary school of Ksh18,000 (USD 176) a semester and Ksh15000 (USD 147) per term respectively, make a down payment of Kshs 30,000 (USD 294) for a motor vehicle and save Ksh10,000 (USD 98) in microfinance institution.

Neema continues to campaign for market-led production as it enables farmers enjoys income from their farms and cash in from farming business.

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