Nairobi, Kenya, 21 September 2017: The Oserian Fairtrade Joint Body has established a garden for production of selected highly nutritious vegetables to supplement staff feeding.

Oserian flower farm workers tend to vegetables at the nutritional garden.

The Nutrition Garden is a project of the flower exporter and responsible trading label programme, Fairtrade. The label certifies goods produced by firms that have established systems for worker welfare,   environmental protection and community support.

Fairtrade labeled products are sold at a premium in UK super markets and proceeds ploughed back to support projects identified by the beneficiaries.

A beaming Mary Kinyua, the Fairtrade Officer at Oserian said the Nutrition Garden, that was unveiled with funfair in July, is an exciting development at the farm whose harvest was eagerly awaited.  The results as seen in the pictures here have not disappointed.

As per the initial plans priority has given to workers living with HIV, who require high nutrition diets.

Dr Daniel Watta, The Coordinator of the Oserian HIV/AIDS workplace  says  80 persons living with HIV /AIDs had been enrolled in the project  and receiving free vegetables on a weekly basis.

“We supply the vegetables to any member of the family who is living with HIV. Unlike before where beneficiaries were restricted to issuing food per family, we are now distributing per head.” he noted.

He however proposed that The Fairtrade considers initiating a chicken rearing project to supplement the much needed proteins in their meals.

Apart from producing a variety of recommended vegetables suitable for special needs feeding, the garden will serve as training centre to demonstrate maximizing production per a square meter of land, said Oserian Technical Director Hamish Ker at the unveiling of the garden early July.

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Production manager Stephen Musyoka added the garden is a practical demonstration of how the skills and technologies applied in growing flowers can be used in crop husbandry with amazing results.

The one-acre vegetable garden  is adjacent to the main flower farm where selected popular  vegetables  – Sukuma wiki (Kales), spinach, cabbages, carrots, red pepper and capsicum have been planted in the open  field under irrigation.

When the garden grows in size, volumes and varieties, packs of mixed ready-to-cook vegetables, will be introduced to avail an all rounded vegetable serving. Other vegetables like lettuce and broccoli are being introduced at staggered phases to manage maturity and availability.

Like other Fairtrade projects, the Nutrition Garden was determined by the Joint Body Committee after a needs assessment that identified scarcity of vegetables as an issue requiring attention said Chair of the team Mr. Samuel Chacha.  It also falls within Oserian’s four pillars of Flowers4Life that guides the farm’s operations, Flori4Farming, through which the company supports food security and nutrition for sustainability, Flori4Nature, Flori4Schools and Flori4Water.

“Food is a basic necessity requiring we play our part in creating a food secure world  without which the other Sustainable Development Goals cannot be achieved”, added Kirimi Mpungu, Oserian Administration Director.

“Vegetables were the easiest option in improving the dietary needs of our workers. They are an obvious accompaniment to ugali with high nutrition value being rich in vitamins and fiber. “He noted

The farm has already created new employment for the locals, including the agronomist Evans Osiemo who tends to the farm and an outlet for farming inputs.

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Evans attested to harvesting at least 100 kilos of the vegetables on a daily basis which are sold at Msambweni market.

“We chose vegetables which are included in every meal. Also, vegetables are of high nutritional value, and offer iron, vitamins, antioxidants, fibers and folic acid. These are very important minerals in ensuring the workers are healthy and strong. With the diversity of our workers, which include persons living with disabilities, persons living with HIV and nursing mothers, we felt it was important to ensure that they are well catered for,” he said.

Sheila Mulli, Oserian Fair-trade Programs officer, termed the initiative as a life changing project producing the vegetables that are sold to at least 1,000 people every day.

“The satisfaction of getting fresh vegetables delivered at your own convenience is unmatched. Better still the satisfaction of knowing that the plants are grown in all the proper conditions which gives  consumers the comfort of eating without dreading  diseases that can come as a  result chemicals and unclean irrigation water,” she added.

Ms  Mulili said to sustain the project, returns  would go towards expanding and diversifying production. This will include cultivating at least five more acres.  About Ksh 1.5 million has been invested in the project with projections the cost could further up with expectations yields of  Ksh 2.5 million will be realized.

Credit: Bob Koigi

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