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KENYA: Microloans, Greenhouses Help Women Cope with Climate Change
By Isaiah Esipisu
NAIROBI, Mar 2 2012 (IPS) – At Gakoromone Market in Meru, in Kenya’s Eastern Province, Ruth Muriuki arrives in a pickup full of tomatoes and cabbages despite the scarcity of rainfall in the area, thanks to the greenhouse technology she uses on her farm – and microcredit.
“A bundle of ten tomatoes which would cost Sh40 (50 cents of a dollar) three months ago is now going for double the price. But we have no choice,” said David Njogu, a vegetable dealer at the open-air market. Muriuki is selling a big sugarloaf cabbage, which would have cost 50 cents three months ago, at 1.50 dollars.
A spot check in the country shows that prices of horticultural produce have shot up in the past three months following the failure of short rains, which were expected to come between October and December last year.
However, farmers who use the greenhouse technology do not need rainfall for their crops to grow.
In the greenhouses, generally made of glass or transparent plastic roof and walls, temperature and humidity can be controlled, making it possible for farmers to grow crops year-round.
Like Muriuki, Sarah Chebet from Nandi hills in the Rift Valley Province describes her two-year experience with greenhouse farming as “a dream come true.”
“I bought my greenhouse through credit offered by a local microfinance institution. Through the project within the past two years, I have been able to buy a maize milling machine, I have put up a retail shop, I have bought two dairy cows, and I have bought a stock of 400 kilograms of maize, which I intend to sell once the prices shoot up,” said the 28-year-old mother of one.
From a single greenhouse, she picks an average of four crates of tomatoes per weekly harvest, which fetches her about 100 dollars per week.
Nandi hills is one of the dry regions in the country, where rainfall is not guaranteed throughout the year.
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