Profits spring from leafy harvests

Climate-smart solutions support production of nutritious vegetables

Women tending to a compost heap at Opanga’s Farmers’ Hub

Vegetables are good for consumers’ health and farmers’ incomes. Growing them requires care, however – and enough water. Our work in Kenya includes increasing the productivity of traditional local crops.

Calistus Opanga’s Farmers’ Hub (FH) specializes in African Leafy Vegetables. These highly nutritious plants are grown and consumed by approximately 90 percent of Kenya’s rural population. Working with fellow farmers, predominantly women, Opanga grows crops such as spider plant, amaranth, and black nightshade. He sells them not only in his local community and nearby cities such as Bungoma, but also in Eldoret, 130 kilometers away.

Calistus Opanga’s FH is in Bukhayo North, Busia County. It is one of the enterprises involved in NICE. This project* links suppliers such as Opanga to urban markets. His African Leafy Vegetables are rich in vitamin A and minerals such as calcium and iron. They make a valuable contribution to city inhabitants’ diets. Furthermore, African Leafy Vegetables withstand changing climatic conditions well. They therefore help to increase both food security and farmers’ incomes.

African Leafy Vegetables such as spider plant, amaranth and Crotalaria locally known as mitoo at Opanga’s Farmers’ Hub

Calistus Opanga earns money from vegetables all through the year. Depending on the season, however, profits vary widely. During the rainy season, the harvest can fetch about 600 to 800 Kenyan shillings (approx. $4.10 – 5.50) per seed bed.  The best sales come during the dry season: “There we sell each bed for between 1000 and 1200 shillings”, Opanga says.  

One of the ways in which NICE is supporting Calistus Opanga’s FH is with climate-smart irrigation solutions.

Our key challenge is that since we are located on low land, during dry seasons we lack water to irrigate our vegetables, leading to a shortage.

Calistus Opanga, Farmers’ Hub owner

To tackle the water shortage issue for Afrian Leafy Vegetables production, Calistus Opanga is working with Daniel Nyauke, Busia-based project coordinator for NICE, on incorporating irrigation during the dry season. Together, they are improving water efficiency by staggering the production. Furthermore, together with his farmer customers, Opanga has additionally created an organic compost heap.

Compost heaps are a good way to use plant waste to improve soil health and raise production

Daniel Nyauke, NICE project coordinator Busia

* The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation’s (SDC) Nutrition in City Ecosystems (NICE) project connects the demand- and supply-side of food systems, engages women and youth – including through social business models – and builds local governance capacity in Kenya, Rwanda, and Bangladesh. In Kenya, this project runs in Bungoma and Busia counties. In Switzerland, our consortium partners are Swiss TPH, ETH Zürich and Sight & Life.