Banana wine, cassava cakes give women sweet success

Wednesday September 10 2014

By EVERLINE OKEWO 
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Roselyn Ayiemba picks her nutrition guide book from her handbag as she welcomes visitors to her business stand in a village trade fair in Ebutsalwa, Vihiga County.

“Welcome and feel free to taste all these cakes and crisps made from pumpkin, banana, cassava, amaranth and soya beans,” she tells visitors from the ministry of Agriculture.

Ms Ayiemba, a member of Matunda development group says high demand for nutritious foods and ready market has motivated the team formed two years ago to make the products daily and supply them to markets in Vihiga, Kisumu, Busia and Kakamega counties.

GROUND INTO FLOUR

The 30-member team also makes banana biscuits, pawpaw jam, banana wine, fruit juices, pumpkin flour and porridge, sweet potato and cassava flours which they sell locally. The products attract between Sh150 and Sh500 each.

A birthday cake made from banana or pumpkin retails at Sh1,000. Amaranth and cassava cakes fetch Sh500.

Ms Ayiemba says that the cakes are on high demand at local institutions as well as hotels. A glass of wine made from ripe bananas retails at between Sh100 and Sh350 per litre.

To make a banana cake, one needs to peel off unripe bananas and then chop them into pieces. The pieces are washed and sun-dried for about three to five days after which they are ground into flour.

LACK MODERN EQUIPMENT

The banana flour is mixed with wheat flour. Thereafter, a mixture of sugar, eggs, margarine and milk is added into the dough.

Ms Ayiemba then adds baking powder and a pinch of salt then bakes it for one hour under moderate heat.
Most often, the team uses sand as a substitute for oven.

“We are in the process of buying at least five ovens and other modern equipment to make our work easier,” Ms Frida Anyona, a team member, says.

Despite lack of modern value addition equipment, the team has been able to make nutritious meals thanks to training from Kenya horticultural competitiveness project, Farm Concern International and ministry of Agriculture.

NEW MARKETS

Besides providing market links, Farm Concern International also scouts for new markets for the farmers.

“We train farmers on market orientation, products quality, quantity, value addition and a consistent supply of the produce,” says Spencer Mabonga, a monitoring and evaluation specialist with Farm Concern.

Mr Mabonga says they also provide training on several modules on nutritional component and best agronomical practices, group cohesion and leadership, financial management, table banking and how farmers can get loans.

Lincoln Onzere, Emuhaya sub-county agriculture officer from the ministry of Agriculture says they provide extension services to farmers with an aim of improving crop and livestock production.

Besides value addition, the group also practices off season vegetable farming under drip irrigation.

They grow amaranth popularly known as mchicha or livogoi in local dialect, spider weed or dek, black night shade also known as osuga or lisusa, mitoo, jute mallow or mtere, cowpeas and spinach.

“We make an annual turnover of Sh950,000 from the sale of both vegetables and value added products,” says Peres Ochieng, the group’s chairperson.