Anyone who has grown anything, harvested it and eaten it, knows just how much more satisfying it tastes.åÊ But anyone who farms to make a living will know just how much hard work goes into producing a few kilos of fresh vegetables. As climate patterns change, and seasonal rains become less reliable, and populations soaring, food security particularly in Africa where the majority are still subsistence farmers has once again become a priority on the development agenda. To give you context for Kenya: Agriculture in Kenya continues to dominate Kenya’s economy, although only 15-17 percent of Kenya‰Ûªs total land area has sufficient fertility and rainfall to be farmed, and only 7-8 percent can be classified as first-class land.[1][2] In 2006, almost 75 percent of working Kenyans made their living by farming, compared with 80 percent in 1980.[1] About one-half of Kenya’s total agricultural output is non-marketed subsistence production.[1] Agriculture is also the largest contributor to Kenya‰Ûªs gross domestic product (GDP).[1] In 2005, agriculture, including forestry and fishing, accounted for about 24 percent of the GDP, as well as for 18 percent of wage employment and 50 percent of revenue from exports.[1] Farming is the most important economic sector in Kenya, although less than 8 percent of the land is used for crop and feed production, and less than 20 percent is suitable for cultivation. Kenya is a leading producer of tea and coffee, as well as the third-leading exporter of fresh produce, such as cabbages, onions and mangoes. Small farms grow most of the corn and also produce potatoes, bananas, beans and peas. (From Wikipedia) Camp Muhaka and Camp Makongeni happen to be located within that 20% of suitable land for cultivation and whilst just about everyone has a small little farm mainly for cassava and maize and a few mango trees, there is very little in terms of cash crop production. People are extremely poor in the area and most live hand to mouth yet the soil is very fertile particularly in Muhaka and rainfall sufficient to ensure at least three good harvests a year. There are a number of reasons, and probably the main one being access to good market prices. Just about anything you plant in Muhaka grows and yes, there are problems with pests but, yes, things do grow. We have proved it by planting a number of different vegetable crops on the Trust House land and getting a kick out of harvesting: Ok, so we are not (yet) feeding ourselves let alone the world but hey, got to start somewhere! So, we have our spinach, tomatoes, eggplants, bananas, watermelon, and… chillies….lots of chillies! Chilli Farm Why chillies? Simple: 1. They grow very well in this climate region and are farily hardy crops which the bugs don’t like them and they can sustain quite long periods without water 2. There is a high demand for certain species of chillies locally and on the export market 3. You can produce and harvest chillies all year round 4. They are ideal for small landowners. We have harvested and sold almost 200kgs of chillies in the last four months Dried chillies The long term plan here is to ensure a solid market with a fair price for farmers in Muhaka. The price of dried chillies is much better than fresh ones but obviously you need a lot more dried chillies to make it a viable business. I was really pleased the other day when a farmer came with ten kgs of dried chillies that he harvested from his own farm so not only did we manage to sell them for him, but we were so pleased by his efforts that we offered to pay for the first term of child’s secondary school fees. Hopefully this is just the beginning… And besides the chilli sauce we are making from these little critters is guaranteed to keep your bosses on their toes (place your orders for the special brew here)…