This International Women’s Day we wanted to highlight the work of some of the fantastic women involved in our Centenary Campaign, 20 Million Trees for Kenya’s Forests. Women who are transforming landscapes in Kenya, including Lucy Wanjuki Njagi. The image above was created by Omar Diop and was displayed as part of the Gaia Foundation’s ‘We Feed the World’ exhibition in London.
Lucy Wanjuki Njagi, 60 years old, Kathangariri, Kenya
Lucy has a 2 acre farm in Kathangariri, Kenya. She farms cash crops such as tea and coffee, as well as food crops such as maize, cassava and bananas. She also farms livestock; she keeps cows and goats for dairy, as well as fish for aquaculture.
Lucy is part of ITF’s ‘20 Million Trees for Kenya’s Forests’ campaign, which aims to restore degraded areas of Kenya’s highland forests. Since being a part of this project Lucy and other women like her in the area have come together to adapt their farming systems to benefit themselves and their environment, as well as to form tree nursery self-help groups, in which they raise indigenous seedlings.
Here she shares her thoughts on deforestation, the current issues facing farmers in her area and what is being done to solve these problems in the farming communities.
Lucy was taught to farm by her parents and has been involved in farming in some way for over 50 years. Her parents were farmers of food crops, such as maize, beans, yams, coffee and tea. However, things have changed since Lucy’s parents were farming.
“Things have changed totally, we could harvest many bags of maize and beans and they were kept in a grain store, nowadays the grain stores are empty with nothing to store, we rely on the purchase of food crops.”
Almost every part of land in Lucy’s area was cleared for tea planting leaving nowhere to farm. Nowadays tea brings in little income and it is not sufficient to support the local community. Lucy also talks of difficulties such as lack of farming training, and insufficient capital to finance farming.
Despite recent challenges Lucy told us that farming is very important to her, it is her occupation and she doesn’t have any other source of income. Fruit trees such as avocadoes, passion fruit and tree tomatoes are now generating a lot of income for Lucy and her family. She has started to incorporate trees into her farming system and is beginning to see the benefits for her and her local environment.
“We have started planting trees and we can now see the need for them, we plant trees rather than cutting them down, local weather has totally changed with water volumes declining, we believe trees attract rain. We have planted fodder on the farms so we don’t need to go to the forest to collect fodder for cows; the cows are producing a lot of milk after eating Calliandra combined with other fodders increasing my milk supply and income as well.”
Our centenary campaign ‘20 Million Trees for Kenya’s Forests’ was established in 2016 and aims to plant 20 million trees in and around Kenya’s highland forests and improve the livelihoods of farmers like Lucy. Find out more about this project and support us here.