At Ngurumo village, Ntakira Location, Meru, she is known as queen of arrow-roots. Eunice Ngoki is a member of Meru Jitegemee group. After training on agro-ecological farming and need to revive indigenous seed and crops, Eunice decided to specialise on arrow-roots among other crops that had disappeared in the community. It was a time that many believed arrow roots could only be grown along river banks, but this was not the case for Eunice.
With time, recognition of indigenous and traditional crops increased hence demand for these lost seeds rose. Eunice decided to specialise on production of arrowroot seeds in her community. Arrow roots have not only been part of her family diet but a source of income too. With a small portion of land (60 by 100m), Eunice makes approximately KES 1,600 ($20) a week from her farm. This inspired her to grow other varieties of indigenous and traditional crops and vegetables surrounding her house in a small portion of land.
“Der Mensch ist, waseribt”.-A man is what he eats. This phrase could not be truer if you have not met Eunice. She has managed to feed herself and her family with a variety of nutritious foods from her farm. At her age, she is still looking very hearty than most women of her generation. She has endured the test of time, What is her secret? Indigenous foods!
Through the programme, the socio-economic status of women in Meru has improved as a result of having enough and diverse foods to feed their families. This is because women are more affected than men by hunger and malnutrition.
Therefore, in this international year of family farming, there is need to promote farming methods that are sustainable in terms of cost production (soil fertility) and easier to replicate. There should also be effective policies in place to enhance recognition and protection of variety of indigenous and traditional crops to reduce over reliance of fewer crops for food. This would go along in achieving MDG1 “eradicate extreme poverty and hunger”.
Story by: Hannah Kigamba