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How to grow veggies in poor conditions

Farming in the slums

Growing up in the slums is difficult many are destined a life of crime and some kids are taught to steal and hustle from an early age. Getting food is always a struggle as nobody has much money making it difficult to eat and to find money for other necessities. In Kibera which is located near Kenya and is one of the largest slums in Africa they seem to have found a solution to this food crisis. In the heart of the slum they are using unusual farming methods in order to survive. As the soil quality in the slums is poor because of lack of nutrients in the ground it makes it nearly impossible to grow produce there, the residents of Kibera have adopted the sack method of growing.

In these urban slum farms consist of a number of large sacks filled with organic matter which is rotted manure and soil they also add small stones to allow water to drain better. These sacks allow you to successfully grow inside the sack this method allows people to grow kale, spinach, onions, tomatoes, vegetables and arrowroot. This approach is a cheap solution to the food crisis and there are thousands of these little farms across Kibera which consist of 16 villages.

Ramadhan Abdulrahman, 25, is one of these farmers. Before being contracted by the NYS (National Youth Service) to take care of the vegetables in a local sack garden, he was unemployed. Today he earns a stipend of 6,592 shillings per month and saves up to Sh1,200 per week. Before this sack farming project was introduced here I used to use between 280 shillings and 420 shillings to buy vegetables per week, but I now use the money to buy other food stuff,” he said, adding that he used to struggle to feed himself. Through his sack farming he now feels more assured of getting at least one decent meal a day.

Abdulrahman is not alone in experiencing urban food insecurity. Across Kenya an estimated 1.5 million people are acutely food insecure and research from the International Fund for Agricultural Development suggests that a large number of households in Kenya limit their food intake to one or two meals a day. Around 38% of Kenya’s population is malnourished.

Abdulrahman explains that the money farmers earn from selling vegetables goes into a savings and credit society they have formed, which in turn will provide loans to young people to start their own businesses. For Fred Onserio, headmaster at Stara Rescue Centre and School which caters for more than 500 orphans and other vulnerable children in Kibera, urban farming has reduced the cost of their school feeding programme.

man watering plants in the slums
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