In the rural village of Kinari, about 45 minutes northwest of Kenya’s bustling capital of Nairobi, our Local Community Institution (LCI) Grafco operates their dairy value chain. This program empowers small-scale farmers to increase dairy production and obtain better prices for their produce, and the results are extraordinary for the lives of Grafco’s members. Moving “from food scarcity to food security” has almost become a cliché, but it’s a reality for the hundreds of families involved in Grafco’s value chain program.
One such family is Peter and Loise Gathiru. They have been members of Grafco for two years and have benefitted from a series of small loans, as well as opportunities for continuous education and business training. According to Grafco’s General Manager, Tabitha Githechi, Peter and Loise attended three different dairy farming training events in Kinari in the months of February to May 2015, and the impact on their lives was immediate.
Peter and Loise owned two dairy cows and a heifer, which had been producing a sum of five liters of milk per day. As a direct result from this training, led by a professional veterinarian and Grafco volunteers, their production almost tripled! As Peter and Loise introduced a better diet and better conditions for the two cows, their production jumped to 14 liters a day. Not only have the trainings made a difference, but being part of the Grafco value chain ensures they receive a fair and honest price for their produce, plus get quality, affordable feeds and supplements for their dairy cows.
This growth in production, combined with the Gathiru’s involvement in Grafco’s value chain has drastically increased their income and purchasing power. Before the Grafco value chain they were earning US $1.5 per day and now they earn US $6 per day.
Now, they are able to send their son Joseph to school. He is the last born of five children (three girls, all married, and two boys) and none of the others have attended high school. He attended primary school from class one to class eight, earned good marks and was accepted into a high school in their area. Unfortunately, midway through the first term, he was forced to drop out because his parents couldn’t raise the needed schools fees and needed him to help on the farm to make ends meet. Now, with profits soaring, they are able to hire others, and send their son back to school. Tabitha Githechi, General Manager at Grafco, reports, “Today, they are very proud. They are proud parents, to be able to see their son get the education they could not.”
Because of their augmented income, Peter and Loise’s family are now able to eat a more balanced diet than before. Until now, they have only been able to eat what they grow on their own land – mostly potatoes and kale. Now, they can regularly purchase meat, beans, bread, and a variety of fresh produce, which not only improves their own health, but also betters the local economy and other farmers.
In real-life situations like this, Grafco is eliminating poverty on both a personal level and a systemic level, and in its variety of forms – both economic and emotional. By addressing the root problems of poverty, Grafco effectively cures the symptoms – lack of education, malnutrition, and a lack of dignity and entrepreneurial confidence.