Irine Zippy Kalamai is a 62-year-old retired nurse in Nandi County, Kenya, who has drawn on both her nursing and farming knowledge to transform her rural agricultural community.
In 2010, Kalamai formed the 42-member Chepterit Horticultural Growers Organization to help women living with HIV set up income-generating activities, contributing $1,000 of her own money towards the purchase of 4,000 passion fruit seedlings for planting.
In October 2011, Feed the Future and the Kenyan Ministry of Agriculture helped Kalamai’s group set up a certified passion fruit nursery, introduced them to various agricultural technologies such as drip irrigation and integrated pest management, and linked them to a reliable market. Since then, Kalamai’s group has established a nursery with the capacity to produce 75,000 seedlings a year. The nursery has been registered by the Horticultural Crops Development Authority and certified by the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services.
As a result of the interventions and technical assistance they received from Feed the Future, the group sold seedlings worth almost $16,000 last year and sold 7,500 kilograms of passion fruit worth more than $3,600 to the local market. In addition, the women sold high-quality seedlings to more than 304 farmers from Nakuru, Nandi, and Uasin Gishu, enabling those farmers to produce fruit that can meet market standards and demand.
Kalamai’s group is now using a banking system to save money and several members have combined their savings to purchase more land for horticulture farming.
"This project brought hope back into our community," Kalamai says. "I now believe that if farmers can easily access quality seeds, they will have a better yield and ultimately high incomes."
In the last year, more than 2,000 Kenyan farmers in the Rift Valley region receiving targeted assistance from Feed the Future (48 percent of whom are women) have harvested over 750,000 kilograms of passion fruit valued at more than $730,000.
Did you know that December 1 is World AIDS Day? An estimated 33.3 million people globally are living with HIV. Learn more or find out what the U.S. Government is doing to address AIDS around the world. Read a blog post from Kalamai.