The livelihood of over 150 stinging nettle producers in Ecological Organic Agriculture project area has been significantly improved through stinging nettle farming. This is through the efforts of Biovision Africa Trust through their financial support to Kenya Organic Agriculture who have empowered farmers to undertake value addition of the stinging nettle product in which the group makes approximately Kenya Shilling 420,000 in a year. The farming and value addition is done organically and so far the group has been certified by Kenya Organic Network (KOAN) through organic certification through the Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) a requirement for Organic farmers. The group has also been certified by Kenya Bureau of Standards to process, package and sell their products to the Kenyan Market.
Those farmers have realized the benefits of this rare herb and have formed a group called Net World in order to focus on its production and value addition a move that has drastically improved their livelihoods. Net World is coined from the word Nettle
Urtica dioica, often called common nettle or stinging nettle, is a herbaceous perennial flowering plant in the family Urticaceae. It is native to Europe, Asia, northern Africa, and western North America, and introduced elsewhere. Other than financial benefits, the farmers are experiencing health benefits by consuming stinging nettle.
Among the key benefits of stinging nettle include;
- Healing of Osteoarthritis and Joint Pain
- Healing Bleeding
- Healing Eczema
Net World started in the year 2005 with only 2 members on half an acre farm focusing on farming stinging nettle and undertaking value addition for the same crop. Currently the group jointly owns 5 acres and have engaged extension farmers. At first the group was very uncertain due to farmer’s ignorance and wild animal’s destruction of the stinging nettle crop. However due to the health and financial benefits associated with the crop more and more farmers are joining with plans underway to form Laikipia Organic Farmers Association (LOFA) by end of 2016. LOFA is an umbrella group of organic farmers supported by Kenya Organic Network(KOAN)
The crop has so far been processed organically to powdery form from the leaf and roots that is packaged and sold in Central Kenya and Nairobi supermarkets and retailer shops.
Net world is also planting Pepino melon and sandal wood as additional diversification crops
Story by Venancia Wambua, EOA project Manager
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