Bringing cashew farms back to life
Kilifi County, on the coast of Kenya, used to be home to a thriving cashew trade. But that was way back in the 80s. These days, the cashew trees are getting older. There’s more powdery mildew and mealy worm on them than cashew fruits with those tasty little nuts inside. Yields are small; rains are unpredictable and the trees are just plain tired.
That’s hard for smallholder farmers in Kilifi, who are really missing out on what used to be a big cash crop. When we spoke to Josephine–Kilifi farmer and grandmother–about what she’d do with some extra income, she didn’t have to think long: school for the grandchildren, repairs for the farm roof and medical bills were top of her list.
The Empowering Farmers Foundation wants to help Josephine and other farmers in Kilifi to reach those goals. They’re training farmers to revive cashew production, treat for pests, and plant a high-yielding variety of cashew seedling that’s brand-new to Kenya. They’re also helping farmers form a cooperative so they can get a good price for their cashews.
What’s more, they’re encouraging farmers to try growing finger millet in between the cashew trees–that’s intercropping, if you’re fancy. It can be a great way to combine cash crops with grains you can eat every day in one field, and to capture a bunch of carbon while you’re at it. Finger millet is a tasty, hardy grain that can tolerate a changing climate and is full of good things like B6, folic acid and minerals such as calcium, iron and magnesium. What’s not to love?
We’re proud to be working with Josephine, her neighbours, and the Empowering Farmers Foundation, and we’re excited to see how they get on.
If you’d like to read about other projects we support, click the link below, otherwise, bye bye for now and cashew later.