When her husband left her, Jescah thought she would never be able to provide for her children on her own. Living on a small farm in County Busia, western Kenya, at once she became the sole provider for her large family.
The 52-year-old mother virtually survived on the maize crop that she could grow on their three acre farm.
“I felt very hopeless. Farming wasn’t working out and I didn’t make any income,” she remembers. “I was scared my children would not get an education and would fail in life.”
Two years ago, things turned around for Jescah. She joined a Self Help Africa project and began growing cassava, a staple tuber crop that grows well in this part of Kenya. Jescah received cuttings and was trained in how to grow the crop. Today, she grows almost four acres of cassava, and sells it at a fair price to a local cooperative that processes the tuber into flour, chips and other products.
“Today, my farm is a profitable business. I never thought that someday I would become a businesswoman! For the first time, I have my own income,” she says.
With this new source of income, Jescah is providing a better diet to her children. They are are getting the education she wanted for them: “My youngest children are attending a good school and I am saving money so they can continue their studies and succeed in life,” she says proudly.
Jescah’s household is one of close to 28,000 benefitting from Self Help Africa’s EU-funded five-year project that is seeking to increase production, and develop new market opportunities for trade in cassava in this part of Kenya.