Women’s Empowerment Initiative: The Power of Choice

This month’s Women’s Empowerment Initiative update comes from Seed Programs International Partner Daniel Wanjama, Seed Savers Network Kenya (SSNK) Founder and Director. SSNK is a grassroots NGO headquartered southeast of Nakuru in Gilgil who works with resource-poor farmers to promote sustainable rural livelihoods. SSNK has strong support for women’s groups, providing access to agricultural training, good vegetable seed, tools, and other resources.

You might remember Mary and Esther from our update one year ago. Well, we recently connected with Daniel, who shared a little of what he’s been working on since then.

The Gatume Women’s Group

Women in the Gatume Women’s Group have traditionally farmed grains, primarily varieties of beans and maize. After connecting with Daniel and SSNK, some of the women started growing vegetables using local seed — made possible by your support of Sweet Blossom Gifts and the Women’s Empowerment Initiative! Combined with training and support from agronomist extension visits, they had what they needed for the work ahead.

Ann, whose nursery is pictured in this update, began experimenting with coriander (or parsley). Coriander is often chosen as a livelihood crop since it requires less land than other crops and can be sold for a decent amount of money. Income is an important component for a woman’s resilience because it transforms their gardening labor into the power of choice. With extra income, a farmer can keep her children in school, buy medicine, improve her home, and buy other kinds of food to round out her and her family’s diet. In the first season, Ann was able to sell her coriander to bring in extra income.

Ann shares, “Before I met the Seed Savers staff, I used to plant only maize and beans on my farm. I had not made any profit in the last two years, and an outbreak of Maize Lethal Necrosis Disease during drought made farming my three acres of land impossible. However, I was able to irrigate my smaller vegetable garden. So far, I haven’t needed to buy coriander at market, and instead I’m able to sell my extra coriander on my farm to bring in money each day.”

Following her success, Ann wants to expand her garden next season and plant another vegetable variety. This will not only supplement her meals and provide additional income, but it will provide others in her community with access to that vegetable. Ann is bolstering her livelihood, strengthening her family, and contributing to a strong community, all with one garden!

Ann is only one example of what the women in The Gatume Women’s Group are accomplishing. With your support, SSNK, and SPI, women are putting power back in their own hands. We’re proud to work with them, and we hope you are, too!

Thank you for your support of Sweet Blossom Gifts and the Women’s Empowerment Initiative.

Sweet Blossom Gifts & The SPI Team

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