Small Farming

"It’s our season"

Kemuma Momanyi

Zuriel Fresh Farm

Kemuma Momanyi a ‘brave Woman’ who dares to take on the desert, the government and a host of sceptics.
Like so many others, Kemuma’s story starts with the idea of having a bit of land of her own to grow healthy, honest food for her family and other relatives. She bought some land outside Nairobi, in Kajiado East: ‘black soil’, rocky and dry, in an area where the Maasai live.

They called the farm Zuriel, a name derived from the Hebrew for ‘rock’, or ‘the strength of God’.

Here Kemuma is sitting on the last rock on her farm, amid her fields of herbs. It’s a kind of monument, too big and heavy to remove.

They spent a year stripping the land of rocks and then walling it off with them, to protect it against wild animals. Two of her dogs were killed by a lion. Kemuma has faced other setbacks too, but what started out as a kitchen garden is now a serious agribusiness, with ten greenhouses and three hectares for outdoor herbs. She has around four hectares in greenhouses where she grows organic vegetables and herbs.

‘Looking back to our forefathers, and especially to my grandmother, to whom I really owe much of this passion, I see that she used to select specific seeds from her bumper harvest to store for her next crop. And she used to have a plan, a crop plan.’

‘Our biggest challenge is the introduction of GMO.
The policy was introduced at the end of 2022 by the current government.

Our concern right now is the loss of the specific species that grow in Africa and in certain areas. Our concern is how to sustain the indigenous crop that was suited to grow in this particular geographical climate. Because as we know, the bees are going to cross-pollinate and we’ll lose the authenticity of the seed that’s indigenous to the area.’

My message to the world is that there’s a reason why nature behaves the way it does.

Nature might know more than we know. Let’s look at nature, let’s learn from nature. And more importantly, there’s a reason each one of us is around. There’s a reason each one of us was born when they were born, and this is their season to contribute to the sustainability of the environment.

So use the talent you have, use the resources you have to contribute positively to ensure that there’s a future for those coming after us. Let’s leave positive footprints in the environment.

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Resilience Food Stories is a storytelling platform by Ruud Sies and Hanneke van Hintum in partnership with Koppert.

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