From hunger to food sufficiency

Christine Achieng Onyango hails from Nyabenge village of Maranda Division, Bondo District in western Kenya. She is a member of Kayongo Farmers Association, which is named after the Striga weed ‘kayongo’ in Dholuo dialect. The association comprises 20 members, two of them male. Its key aim is to eradicate Striga weed in the area.

Christine is a small-scale farmer who grows maize, soya beans, and beans amongst other crops. She learned about the StrigAway Imazapyr Resistant (IR) maize technology which helps in the control of the Striga weed in 2009 from Hagongolo, a farmer organisation promoting the technology in her area. She decided to give the new maize technology a try since she had been experiencing meager harvests from her 1.5 acre piece of land because of Striga.

Prior to using StrigAway IR Maize, Christine used to harvest as little as three bags of maize from her farm. This was despite the hard work of manually uprooting the weed and burying or burning it as is the traditional method of controlling Striga. Following the adoption of IR maize, she now harvests up to 10 bags from the same piece of land. Her land is currently nearly clear of Striga unlike some of her neighbors’ farms which look like purple carpets when Striga is flowering.

Christine is happy with the IR maize variety which she says yields more flour when milled as opposed to other varieties and also tastes better whether prepared as ugali (stiff mixture made from maize flour) or roasted. Through the Kayongo Farmers Association, Christine is spreading the good news to other farmers about the effectiveness of IR maize in controlling Striga and she hopes many will adopt the technology and rid the area of Striga.

Apart from ensuring her family of eight is well nourished, Christine sells the surplus maize to get money to pay school fees for her children. From the proceeds, she is also saving money for her first born son’s secondary school education as he prepares to sit for the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education examination this year.

Christine thanks her husband Johannes Hongo for supporting and embracing her idea to adopt the IR maize technology.

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