Kibisi Cooperative: Fighting poverty and illiteracy
Kibisi Investment group in Bungoma County have been working with AMPATH for the last four years. The group started in late 2014 and aimed to improve the living standards of farmers in the community and eradicate illiteracy though empowerment. Then, it had just 20 members, growing now to 98! The group is still growing and have helped approximately 220 community members via their activities.
Kibisi have been working with AMPATH since 2015 and feel that they have gained substantially from this relationship. "We used to waste a lot of our harvest but since we started engaging with them (AMPATH), taught us post-harvest control." AMPATH have been working closely with Kibisi on several key areas including post-harvest management, storage and training across several areas.
Previously members of the Kibisi group used to lose a lot of income because they did not have an organized way of storing their produce, mainly maize. Training session conducted by AMPATH have shared best practices with the members preventing post-harvest and therefore income loses. One of the key components of good post-harvest management is access to a clean, dry, secure store. The group's major milestone so far can be said to be the construction of their store which they started building in 2016, with a completion date of 2018. The store's capacity is 10,000 bags of maize. Kibisi plan to rent out the store to farmers who wish to store their maize, generating a source of income for their members.
Being able to store grain for periods and not sell immediately is essential for farmers who are wishing to obtain the best price for their produce. The Kibisi secretary shared with AMPATH that they have had many challenges with prices. Their work with AMPATH has opened up access to reliable buyers such as the World Food Program (WFP), removing the need to work with brokers or middle men. They are constantly receiving good prices for their maize now, an average of 3200KSH per 90kg bag. AMPATH have also helped Kibisi access superior quality seed which has been crucial in boosting productivity, strengthening yield, improving food security and increasing income.
In addition to the training on post-harvest management and maize production, Kibisi have been the recipients of training on risk management, health insurance and income protection. AMPATH have shown them the importance of building resilience and awareness with all members registering for National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) cover to protect them from expensive health expenditure.
The chairman, Mr. Omoit, had much praise for what they have been able to achieve, "AMPATH have great men and women who have helped us," He said the group is ready to embrace dairy extensively apart from maize farming.
Kibisi cooperative is building success upon success. The goals of eradicating poverty and fighting illiteracy in Kibisi are being realized because of the initiative that these farmers took to push their cooperative forward. One of the reasons they are making steps forward is they were open to receive fresh ideas, they accepted to be trained and they were keen to learn when they were linked to AMPATH. They have developed their cooperative on their own terms while applying the effective farming methods they have been trained on. Their success story is defined by willingness to learn and determination to succeed.