Elevating grassroots communities

Monday, April 6th, 2020 00:00 |
Members of the Osiepe Practical Action group during a training session. PD/NOVEN OWITI

An organisation in Muhoroni is helping residents fight poverty and illiteracy through agriculture 

Noven Owiti @PeopleDailyKE

For Florence Owuor, a dairy farmer in Chemelil, joining a local community-based organisation was the right step for her enterprise. 

For starters, she was able to access a loan of Sh160,000 from Osiepe Practical Action, the group formed in 2012 to elevate the economic status of community members of Muhoroni sub-county in Kisumu county. 

With the money she bought two additional cows, and her agribusiness gradually turned around.

Owuor is now earning double income from the business. From earning only Sh9,000 a month selling five litres of milk a day, she is now getting Sh20,000 from 18 litres a day. 

Besides the loan, Owuor also attended several trainings on dairy farming matters organised by the group, with the aim of sensitising farmers on modern farming methods to boost productivity.

Game changer

“The group is game-changer to members’ livelihood. I have benefited greatly through access to loans and acquisition of the know-how in dairy management,” says Owuor, who is also growing brachiaria grass, which has solved feeds shortage and boosted milk yields.

Another member, Luke Anyang, who practices dairy and poultry farming, uses improved animal breeding method christened Fixed Timed Artificial Insemination (FTAI), which he learned from development partners through the group.

The technology has seen him produce quality dairy breeds whose productivity exceeds that of the local zebus. From the dairy component, he takes home about Sh18,000 every month in milk sales.

Hezekiah Omenda, Osiepe Practical Action group chairman explains the activities of the group. 

To supplement his earnings, Anyang diversified into poultry farming last year with Sh100,000 loan he got from the group.

His farm currently has 700 birds, with some 500 laying eggs. A crate of eggs goes for Sh300 at the farm gate.

In a month, he earns averagely Sh90,000 from eggs. Anyang has equally gained knowledge on dairy and poultry keeping from the group seminars.

“The far-reaching benefits members receive confirm what such socio-economic initiatives can do in transforming a community,” states Anyang.

Hezekiah Omenda, the group’s chairman says their initiatives largely seek to mitigate against economic challenges, thus alleviate poverty in the community.

The group currently has 75 members, all rallying towards the social transformation plan. Of the total, 32 are women.

“Our driving force is collective action for transformation. We aim to transform livelihoods through economic empowerment, improving the environment and promoting agricultural productivity,” says Omenda.

The organisation’s activities are guided under five pillars revolving around governance, education and capacity development, economic empowerment, agriculture and food nutrition, social and environmental sustainability.

Besides its dairy farming activities, Osiepe runs micro-finance banking where members are able to access loan offered from pooling shares realised through contributions.

The group shares capital is currently Sh30 million, with outstanding loan at Sh12 million.

“Once members contribute their shares we are able to accumulate and secure the money, which is given in loans to members at seven per cent interest rate payable within one year,” he explains. 

In a year, the group can give out loan ranging between Sh7.2 and Sh8 million. To this end, the highest loan given out to a member is Sh660,000.

“Members are actively borrowing and faithfully repaying the money, there is zero default. For the past two months alone, we have splashed out about Sh2 million in loans,” he says.

Positive reaction

The chairman says what members do with the loan must be geared towards promoting at least one group pillar.

To ensure compliance, a monitoring and evaluation committee is in place to check on loan application and usage by members, verifying if it is productive or consumptive.

“The objective of giving out the money is to improve the lives of members. Every loan applicant must account what they did with the money,” says Omenda.

For effective management, Osiepe has a governance structure comprising general membership and executive committee with seven members.

This composition is further divided into four nuclears of 15 members each.

“Apart from offering trainings to members, we take them to various parts of the country for exposure and capacity building,” states the chairman.

The group’s secretary, Hezbon Ogada, says their activities seek to bring the community together and address arising issues.

“The group is advocating for collective approach in addressing challenges we identified.

There is a positive reaction from the community, which is fast embracing the transformative agenda on development.

We also train the community members and other development groups to embrace the saving culture as a vehicle to eradicate poverty,” says Ogada.

The secretary says at the end every year, members also get dividends from their savings, which is ploughed back into various economic ventures.

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