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Food Sovereignty

Indigenous Foods Transforming Lifestyles

Rosemary Muthoni Kago is a living testimony that nature has solutions to the problems that befall its inhabitants. When Rosemary was diagnosed with diabetes a few years ago, life for her seemed doomed. “I was told I had to eat a lot of foods with natural sugar to boost my sugar levels”, Rosemary says.
For Patrick Kago, her husband of 45 years, the disease had dealt a cruel blow to his beloved. Rosemary used to trek nearly 20 Km to the market to buy these foods because she knew it meant life or death. “I never for once imagined that I could grow these very food stuffs in my backyard!”

When the Institute for Culture and Ecology (ICE) paid the residents of Kamburu, in Central Kenya, a visit back in 2006, the Kagos never anticipated that the new knowledge on indigenous food crops ICE would introduce here could reduce the toil and agony of a fatigued diabetic lady.

“We were taught how to plant sweet potatoes and yams and so many other traditional foods and the amazing part was that we never needed to spray them with pesticides nor apply fertilisers!” Not only did Rosemary save immensely on cost, now she had the very item that sustained her health just next to her house. With a regular supply of sweet potatoes and other indigenous food crops, Rosemary was not only improving her nutritional status and that of her family, she also now had an additional source of income in her backyard – not 20 kilometres away!

“I now sell codgets, cabbages and Amaranth leaves to my neighbours and traders who come all the way from Githunguri (about 5 Km from where the Kagos live) to buy from my farm. My prices are higher than others but that does not deter the buyers because they know my produce is organically farmed.”
She adds, “Most people nowadays prefer organically farmed produce because they are more conscious about their health.\”

Rosemary and Patrick have been doing so well with their newly found enterprise that they have dedicated half of their 10 acre farm to indigenous food crops. “A few years ago, we did not have a single traditional food crop in this compound, now imagine today half of our land is full of them and we have no regrets,” Mr Kago says.

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