In Kiambu county, one woman is leading a quiet revolution in agriculture.
Maureen Wanjiru, a graduate in English and Literature, has taken up the mantle of organic farming, transforming a small plot of land into a thriving hub of fresh produce.
Her story mirrors a growing trend in Kenya and around the world, where the demand for organic foods is reshaping the agricultural landscape.
Amidst the bustling metropolis of Nairobi, there is an increasing need for organic foods, especially among the health-conscious denizens of the city.
Maureen recognized this demand and responded passionately.
“There is a serious need for organic foods in Nairobi, especially the upmarket side of the capital,” she affirms.
Her clientele consists of people aiming to maintain their health and others battling ailments that limit their dietary choices.
This rising awareness of the correlation between diet and health is driving the demand for organic produce.
During the tumultuous times of the COVID-19 pandemic, when movement was restricted, Maureen’s organic farm became a beacon of hope.
Many of her customers, particularly those with underlying health issues, sought organic produce as a safer, healthier alternative.
Maureen, through her home deliveries, ensured that these individuals had access to the right food when they needed it the most.
“The rising cases of cancer, diabetes and other related diseases in the country and in the world has seen many people really focus on what they eat,” says Maureen who has been practicing organic farming since 2018.
For an agricultural endeavor to be deemed organic in Kenya, certification by organizations such as the Kenya Organic Agriculture Network (KOAN) is imperative.
The stringent regulations focus on zero chemical use and emphasize natural methods to enrich soil fertility and combat pests and diseases.
Maureen explains, “KOAN conducts tests to ensure farms meet regulations, which include using natural methods such as planting herbs like rosemary, mint, and basil to ward off pests and diseases.”
The question of profitability often arises in discussions about organic farming.
While the financial gains might fluctuate, Maureen Wanjiru emphasizes that organic farming is more of a passion-driven enterprise.
Despite occasional losses, the intrinsic motivation derived from contributing to a healthier community and environment supersedes mere monetary considerations.
It is this passion that fuels the organic farming movement, making it not just a business but a way of life.
The future of organic farming in Kenya appears promising. As more people prioritize their health and well-being, the demand for organic produce continues to rise.
Maureen believes in the potential of organic farming, seeing it as an avenue for individuals to establish farms with minimal investment, provided they have a small piece of land.
“There is need because many people want to eat healthy; and not to forget the fact that many people today use organic food as alternative medicine,” she says, noting that one can establish a farm with as little as Sh500, provided you have a small piece of land.
She envisions a Kenya where organic farming is not just a trend but a way of life, contributing to both the economy and the overall health of the nation.