Farming turns a woman into a village icon

Helidah Anyango holds healthy Fenesi  fruit in her farm in Ruambwa sub location, Busia County. Scores of upcoming farmers have been thronging her homestead to learn more about modern farming techniques.  Photo: Gilbert Ochieng
Helidah Anyango holds healthy Fenesi fruit in her farm in Ruambwa sub location, Busia County. Scores of upcoming farmers have been thronging her homestead to learn more about modern farming techniques. Photo: Gilbert Ochieng

When Helidah Anyango set out to engage in farming, she did not know that this venture would reap highly and give her the much needed stability in life.

Today Onyango, 30, has become the envy of many in Bulukhiro village, Ruambwa sub-location in Budalangi constituency, Busia County where she hails from.

Over the last two decades, the mother of six has drawn her livelihood from both commercial and subsistence farming.

Her commitment and precision with which she handles her agricultural initiatives has made her the village icon.

Scores of upcoming small-scale farmers in the entire Ruambwa sub-location and its environs troop into her home almost on a daily basis to learn more about modern farming methods.

Commitment

The success of this small-scale farmer is wholly attributed to the concerted effort she has made to improve the soil quality of her two acre parcel of land.

“The only secret to getting the highest crop yield is to apply fertilizer, whether man-made or natural on the crops,” says the promising small-scale farmer who has opted always opted for manure.

“To keep the crops healthy and also protect the same from destruction by pests, I spray the crops with pesticides.”

She has ventured into large scale growing of sukuma wiki, spinach, tomatoes, onions and other assorted vegetables that she supplies to various local eateries and learning institutions. Others include maize, a pulpy fruit popularly known as “fenesi”, mangoes, bananas, avocado and beansamong others.

Helidah proudly says far from being in a position to fend for her family, active farming has also enabled her to educate her children unlike in the past when her children would be chased from school and forced to stay at home for months due to lack of school fees.

Initiative

Anyango displays healthy tomatoes outside her house. Photos: Gilbert Ochieng

Anyango displays healthy tomatoes outside her house. Photos: Gilbert Ochieng

“I had opted to venture into active farming to ensure my family has adequate food and I have no regrets because my effort has paid off,” says the proud farmer, adding that the initiative has rescued her from the culture of handouts from politicians.

The main challenge the enterprising farmer has been struggling to grapple with apart from adverse weather condition is the invasion of her crops by armyworms that have in majority of cases destroyed the crops leading to minimal harvest.

However, the department of agriculture has been working closely with the small-scale farmers in the region by providing them with pesticides to spray on their farms to enable them eradicate diseases and register quality harvest.

The small-scale farmers in Budalangi constituency who have been experiencing severe drought that has in majority of occasions ended up getting little or no harvest at all will soon heave a sigh of relief once the Lower Nzoia irrigation project that has been funded by the World Bank in collaboration with the national government is started and
completed.

Work on the irrigation project is set to start anytime as a survey has already been done to identify the pathway for the irrigation canals. Once completed, the ambitious project will go a long way in enabling the farmers to grow assorted crops all the year round through irrigation rather than relying on unpredictable rains.

Helidah has double luck considering that apart from the crops she grow on her two acre parcel of land, she is also a proud owner of an acre of land lying within the canal zone where she plants rice.

The industrious small-scale farmer attributes the enormous success she has achieved to her supportive husband, Corbis Dienya, a prominent fisherman at one of the beaches along Lake Victoria.

The two are now planning to buy additional land to expand the acreage under rice to enable them get adequate cash to set up a rice grinding mill. “We intend to buy extra land where we can increase the acreage under rice to enable us get adequate cash and set up a rice grinding mill,” says the duo.

The duo’s concerted effort to eradicate poverty and ensure they are food secure is worth emulating by all and sundry as a sure way of earning good money taking into account the fact that white collar jobs are scarce.

Unity is strength but laziness and dependence on hand outs are the chief causes of abject poverty in the society.