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“Karibuni chai”, (Welcome for some breakfast) a joyous Felister welcomes you her homestead in the Maguguni Village located in Kambiti, Kenya.
A Day in the Life
At around 8 am, Felister heads out to tend to their fruit farm. Right after she goes to the market along the highway. There, she not only sells her mangoes, oranges and pawpaws but has also undertaken livestock farming. “Fruit farming has always catered for my family’s needs even when things get thick”, a joyful Felister shares in fluent Swahili. Her husband was laid off early this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, but they sustained themselves through the income from selling farm produce.
Previously, Felister could barely sell her mangoes and would watch them rot in her shamba (farm). “We made a lot of losses last December when the harvest was a lot. Mangoes have a short shelf life so once they are ripe in large numbers it becomes tricky”, Felister lamented. Last year, Felister joined a women’s cooperative and her fortunes have changed. Working with Jali, the cooperative was able to purchase a dehydrator which lets them dry and store their fruits for longer periods of time.
Jali has empowered women in the cooperative, like Felister, to support their families with extra income to help their spouses. The women also gain training about fruit farming for quality produce and upgrade their fruit business.
Felister and her husband were able to purchase a motorbike with their increased income. With their motorbike, her husband helps transport the fruit to the market. He delivers fruit from nursery trees to customers and picks fruit from nearby farms to supplement their stock with it, too. "My husband transports the fruit to the marketplace. The motorcycle has supported our business and increased our income," she adds.
Felister hopes to expand her farm to encompass more vegetables and livestock. ”Farming is my lifestyle now”, she shares with a smile.