“Now that this cocoa project has returned, I’m very excited. As a mother, I have prepared three blocks already for my children and I have K400 now available to pay for the new seedlings. My husband and I also plan to clean our old block so our children have cocoa block each”, says Janet.
Janet Nasi, also a farmer with the Gigaso Cooperative Society says the project is timely as many lives have been affected because of the cocoa pod borer disease (CBD) and production decline in the recent past.
“Since I became a mother, I have seen my children cultivate cocoa, and they had money but since the CBD, our livelihood has been affected. Back then my husband was also a farmer and did not have his current job and we depended on cocoa as our only source of income”, she adds.
Janet is a mother of four boys and her husband is now a Teacher in Charge at a nearby elementary school. The family now relies on their father’s paycheck and from selling garden food, but Janet wants her children to be able to work in their cocoa blocks and earn their own income as was done in the past.
As a women’s leader in her community, Janet believes that this project will have positive rippling impacts on the lives of women in her ward, she represents ward 18 which falls under the Gigaso Cooperative Society.
“As a mother, my focus is on learning as much as I can for the benefit of my family. Since becoming a teacher, my husband always encourages me to attend cocoa training sessions so he can learn from me as most times he is teaching in the classroom and cannot be part of the training sessions”, says Janet
Janet says that her family has seen the importance of owning cocoa blocks – her husband and the children are always very supportive and want her to learn as much as she can for their benefit as they all cannot attend these training sessions.
“I’ve seen the new 18-month clone seedlings in my brother's block and I’m really excited because compared to the previous seedlings we have and the trees that have existed before, the clones grow much faster and they are easy to harvest, “ she adds.
As a mother who works in more than three food gardens to earn an income for the family, Janet is grateful for this project and believes that it can help improve their lives and enable women to shift from gardening to other income-earning opportunities through this cocoa project.
“I’m very happy with the knowledge that World Vision has and will be sharing with us, especially on cocoa budding and the new 18-month clone cocoa plant, “says John.
John Koti Yobua is the Chairman of the Gigaso Cooperative Society, one of two cooperative societies established with the support of the ANCP Usino Bundi CACAO Project and the farmers. The other is called the Kuo Cooperative Society.
The two cooperative societies have been formed to represent a total of 2, 800 farmers and to enable the sustainability of the project after its 5-year duration from 2021 – 2026.
So far, John adds that the Gigaso Cooperative Society have established two budwood gardens, one from a previous World Vision implemented Cocoa Project (PPAP) and another from the current, and they will soon be transferring the seedlings to their new nursery which is currently being built.
“The nursery when in full swing will produce around 20, 000 seedlings, the first lot being 5, 000 seedlings which will be distributed to farmers”, he adds.
Lead farmers in each of the 14 wards under the society will receive 300 seedlings for their satellite nurseries for registered farmers to access and plant in their cocoa blocks.
John adds that he is pleased that they will be receiving training on how to prune their cocoa plants, how to rehabilitate their old cocoa blocks, and to learn about ways to avoid CBD that has affected the cultivation of cocoa in the district.
“Some of us know about budding but some don’t. This is important because we will be working with new cocoa clones which will only take 18 months and be at the height of 1 meter which is interesting and farmers are very excited to learn about it”, he says.
Most farmers only know about the hybrid cocoa and the long-established German cocoa, but learning about the clone 18-month cocoa which is able to combat the CBD is something new and very interesting for many farmers and we are eager to learn, adds John.
The main cash crop of the district has been cocoa but that has changed since the CBD and many lives have been affected.
Farmers working with the project have also expressed the need for exact cocoa farming tools that will empower them to rehabilitate their old cocoa blocks which have been affected by CBD leading to a decline in production hence affecting the livelihoods of many.