Jacktone Owuor has been a devoted traditional agriculturist for the past 15 years. The lean, tall man in his late thirties works on his three-acre farm every day of the week only resting on Sundays.
He even has a self-imposed ‘6 to 6’rule which means he works in the farm from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Jacktone’s dedication notwithstanding, he was unable to carter for his basic expenses for a long while due insufficient farm harvest. His debts grew, and he had to take on an extra job to make ends meet. Frustrated, he resorted to cutting down eucalyptus trees from his home forest for sale.
Then Jacktone met facilitators from KMET during a Participatory Integrated Community Development (PICD) session in early 2012 and his story has since changed.
KMET was mobilizing parents to participate in a sustainable school feeding program in Nina Primary School, a move towards improving quality education and achieving Millennium development goals 2 and 1.
Jacktone who is a father of 6 (4 girls and 2 Boys) was among the parents approached. They were required to form a group which would receive a seven week training on Village Savings and Loans (VSL), entrepreneurship skills and agribusiness as part of the foundation of the school feeding program.
Jacktone self-confesses to having been the the greatest benefactor of the program during the training that was facilitated by KMET Sacco.
The Sacco trained 16 parents on good farm husbandry in order to realize increase in quality farm production through improved disease control, crop husbandry and post-harvest processing techniques.
“As soon as the group started and Peter (KMET SACCO manager) explained to us different practices to manage Agribusiness, I’d go back to my farm and immediately start doing them on my own crops.
“Three to four months later, I started to see a change on those crops, they were blooming and were healthier than before,” says Jacktone.
Unlike in the past, the farmer is now practicing crop diversification. He has an orchard of 14 avocado trees, an acre of land of water melons and ground nuts which he grows on separate sections of his farm. Jacktone also grows maize and beans for subsistence.
During the next harvest for watermelon, he stands a chance of earning over Ksh. 100,000 as one fruit goes at a market price of Ksh. 300 and one acre can impressively yield about 500 water melons.
Groundnuts also make a good sale according to Jacktone. He says one sack of groundnuts can at least fetch Ksh. 8000 yet his farm produces up to 4 sacks each season. Groundnuts yield in two seasons within a year.
Jacktone managed to make all these diversification and as well practice disease control in his farm from a trifling loan of Ksh. 10,000 that each parent was given by the KMET Sacco at the close of the seven-week training.
He has since repaid his loan and has qualified for a Ksh. 20,000 loan which he says he intends to use to expand his market penetration. Currently he sells his produce in Siaya town but says he has his eyes focused on the big city of Kisumu.
Even as he looks forward to a good harvest next season, Jacktone’s personal life has also changed. He can now actively support the school feeding program either financially or through farm produce. He says that today he has repaid all his debtors and no longer has to work for anyone to make ends meet.
The only practice that Jacktone will not let go of is the ‘6 to 6’rule.