Vegetable gardens have been in vogue since long across the world as a hobby to source some fresh vegetables for household consumption. However in Kenya, the government and citizens both have moved towards taking it to the next level.
Hassani Oyo, a musician and resident of Nairobi, Kenya, has started vertical bag gardening in the backyard of his home to grow exotic vegetables like cabbage, spinach and kale for his own use as well as for sales to his neighbours and local vegetable vendors. This low cost method of gardening uses minimal farming space and very less water.
Another gardening story emerges from Busia County in western Kenya. where a local community-based organization, Sustainable Income Generating Investment (SINGI) is promoting the use of Kitchen Gardens. SINGI in partnership with other organizations are actively involved in training farmer groups about healthy agricultural practices and sharpening their production skills.
Roselida Orodi, the chairperson of Esikoma Ushirika Farmers Self Help Group states that, “Most households produce enough vegetables for domestic consumption with a surplus which is usually sold to the local market and beyond”. The biggest advantage is that these vegetables are able to withstand high temperatures. During summer, when the demand increases, they are usually sold for higher prices to earn good profits.
Jessica Muhonje of Singingire vegetable farmers group, says that she sells vegetables worth 15 U.S dollars per day. With indigenous vegetables gaining popularity, she adds that, “People flock to my homestead to purchase the vegetables”.
Kenyan government has also launched the “One Million Kitchen Gardens Plan” for households across the country. Brainchild of Agriculture Chief Administrative Secretary, Anne Nyaga, the program aims to use kitchen gardens as a tool to achieve food security, fight malnutrition, and to deal with the food crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. In the initial phase kitchen garden kits were provided to 15,000 households of Makueni county. “We would like to put emphasis on a balanced diet through these kits so that we can be able to boost our immunity and create an immunity that is able to fight COVID-19 and other diseases” says Anne Nyaga. She also adds, “The government is launching a campaign to establish kitchen vegetable gardens, we have issued guidelines to support both rural and urban dwellers with technologies for setting up within the resources available”.
These success stories inspire many others to join the kitchen garden bandwagon in Kenya. Setting up a kitchen garden is not tough, according to Mr. Oscar Ludelu, a landscaper and horticulturist. However, a few factors, like cost and what type of garden one needs is to be kept in mind before starting a kitchen garden.