Oserian Fairtrade supplements staff feeding with nutrition garden
Kenya’s largest flower farm Oserian Development Company Limited through its Fairtrade Joint Body has established a garden of select highly nutritious vegetables as it seeks to supplement staff feeding.
The garden, unveiled in July, has given priority to 80 workers living with HIV, who require high nutrition in their diets. They receive free vegetables every week.
“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,” said Dr Daniel Watta, The Coordinator of the Oserian HIV/AIDS workplace.
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.
Mary Kinyua, the Fairtrade Officer at Oserian said the Nutrition Garden is an exciting development at the farm whose harvest was eagerly awaited.
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.
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.
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.