In drought prone Kenya, strawberries unlock sweet rewards for struggling farmers

  • Gary Fields
  • Jul 23, 2019

Like any mother, Jane Wangechi worried how she was going to feed her family.

A drought that put nearly 1 million people at risk for starvation wiped out the crops she once raised to sell at market. Her husband’s salary as a teacher wasn’t enough to keep purchased food on the family’s table.

The best she could hope for was growing enough maize, beans, peas and potatoes to survive the drought and feed her four children. The stress from the poverty nearly broke up the marriage. The future was uncertain, especially for their children.

Yet you changed everything for the Wangechi family. Your support helped introduce the family to raising strawberries, a new crop that provides sweet benefits beyond the palate.

Dry fields with shriveling crops have been replaced by vibrant strawberry patches. Farmers are reaping benefits of the fruit you introduced. Incomes have increased by nearly half for some.

“When we start a project, we ask ourselves will the community sustain this industry when we are gone? Will it transform people’s lives,” says Jacob Mutemi, Kenya Country Director for Lutheran World Relief. “We believe there will be strawberries here and a market for them for many years.”

Your support helped us to introduce strawberries, which are grown on small parcels like the Wangechi’s. Because they are grown on small plots, strawberries, small amounts of water and fertilizer can be evenly distributed to the crop, making the irrigation systems you provided even more effective.

Strawberries are not grown in great quantities in Kenya, despite great demand. Your support is creating a marriage of that supply and demand by giving companies a local source of strawberries, while allowing farmers, like Jane, to tap into a potentially lucrative and sustainable source of income to support their families.  

Through this project, you helped farmers raise their income by 44%. You also helped women farmers, who are equal partners in making money.

For Jane Wangechi, that income is a godsend. It feeds her family, sends her children to school and the family is building a more secure home. 

“Strawberries have changed my life and my family’s future,” she says. “There is nothing my family needs now that we can’t provide.”

Give opportunity to even more farmers, and get your gift MATCHED!

During the LWR Christmas Matching Gift Challenge, you have the opportunity to help families like Jane Wangechi's tap into sustainable sources of income to feed their families. Now through December 25, your gifts will be matched - dollar for dollar, up to $225,000! - to help hungry families.