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Coming soon in Nairobi — a farmers’ market like no other

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Frustrations can push us to think deep as we seek to invent solutions.

This was the case with 29-year-old Jeff Mundia, an architect who was until recently working as a development manager in South Africa.

One day, he set out to Githurai market with a lorry load of cabbages after he had invested three months of his time and resources growing them. He was sure to return home a loaded man.

But unknown to him, the turn of events on reaching the market would brutally disappoint him, making him rethink his future in farming and agribusiness.

“At the market, I was not allowed to offload the cabbages since there were guys who had positioned themselves for the job. They did the job and charged me Sh3,000. I was not allowed sell the cabbages on my own either and after selling on my behalf they charged me Sh5,000,” Mr Mundia recalled.

By the time he was returning home, the cash he had was far less than the expenses he had incurred growing the cabbages. Simply put, he had spent three months doing nothing, but cultivating vegetables for middlemen.

“I went home with Sh13,000 whereas it had cost me Sh16,000 to grow the cabbages, Sh10,000 for transport to the market plus other expenses here and there,” he said.

But going back home, he was certain about one thing, that consumers at local vegetable stalls would buy his cabbages at a price about three or four times what he had sold them.

That someone somewhere, who was just sitting as he toiled hard, would make a killing from his sweat.

He was a bitter man and he wasn’t going to let other people eat from his sweat.

Coupled with other similar previous experiences, the day’s events provided the energy that fired his ambition to create a market that would end constant frustrations among farmers marketing their produce.

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“Knowing that many other farmers go through the same experience motivated me. I knew there was a big gap that needed to be filled from a business perspective, a major problem that needed solving,” he said.

In less than a month’s time, together with a group of farmers who have experienced similar frustrations, Mr Mundia will be opening a farmers’ market at Runda along Kiambu road, which among other things seeks to eliminate the long value chains that make farm produce in the country costly while keeping the Kenyan farmer earning peanuts.

The Nairobi Farmers’ Market is currently in the final stages of construction and once complete, farmers will be able to have their produce sold there without involvement of middlemen and with an assured ready market and guaranteed prices.

The main idea is creating a centre that shortens the value chain between the farmer and the consumer, in the end reducing cost of goods for the consumer while snuffing out avenues for brokers to eat from where they have not sowed.

“We want to put an end to farmers pocketing just a fraction of what the consumer pays and create a win-win situation for all, more prices for farmers, low costs for consumers, more sale volumes and a guaranteed market,” Mr Mundia said.

The market will further offer clients an assurance on safety of products sold there, by ensuring observance of quality standards both at production and during handling until they get to the market.

This, Mr Mundia says, will be done through an agronomy department that will check on products’ safety before they are put on sale.

“The team of agronomists will do random checks regularly to evaluate farmers’ practices in order to assure on safety of the products sold here. We want to make sure that everything sold here is certified and appropriate according to the local standards,” he said, adding that one of the founders of the market is an agronomist.

READ ALSO:   Huge fire destroys property worth millions of shillings at Githurai Market

Such checks will include the source of water for farmers and farming methods such as the type of fertiliser used, where and when a particular produce was grown.

The move, he said, was bolstered by the fact that Kenyans are now more concerned about safety of food on their tables than before, something that local open-air markets are yet to assure.

To sell in the market, a selection of farmers who pass an evaluation test will sign contracts, promising to keep low prices for products, while at the same time observing quality standards on food production and handling.

The contracted farmers — who will be stall owners at the market — will then deal directly with farmers at the farm level and agree on quantity, prices and time of supplying produce.

“We expect the people running stalls here to contract and schedule farmers in a planned manner. So what happens is that the trader (stall owner) agrees with a farmer on what to plant or rear and the expected quantity and time of supply,” he said.

Even though not an open-air market, farmers can get their produce to the market by liaising with the contracted farmers, and passing the basic test of good farming and handling practices.

But it is the planned fashion of operation, where farmers produce knowing where, when and the prices at which they will sell their produce months in advance that sets The Nairobi Farmers’ Market at the top of any other market.

Among the novel services The Nairobi Farmers’ Market will be offering is home deliveries, a factor its founders argue will help reduce human congestion in the market, as well as offer efficient and convenient services.

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Through this service, Mr Mundia says they are certain with time they will be able to supply products to residents of Nairobi, especially through bodaboda operators who mostly rely on few unpredictable customers and logistics firms.

They have also set up a separate logistics firm, run by experts in the sector, to ensure the service is part and parcel of the market features.

“Even now, because there is going to be a need in Nairobi caused by the coronavirus lockdown, we expect to start doing home deliveries as soon as we open, even within a lockdown environment,” he said.

The market will host about 50 stalls that will be different sizes in order to accommodate various farm produce.

Each of the 50 stall owners is expected to network with between 50 and 100 local farmers so as to get their produce to the market.

The market has the capacity to hold between 500 and 1000 buyers at any given moment.

Wide walkways between stalls with flowers planted strategically on the sides, benches along the walkways for buyers to sit on, gardens with soothing grass for families to relax outside and several free spaces within the market are set to enrich customer experience. This is besides an open-plan design for fresh produce stalls.

“Who said markets have to be muddy, noisy and chaotic?” Mr Mundia poses. The market will also offer parking for about 200 cars and a restaurant where buyers can sit and have a bite.

By Nation


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Courts

How a rogue motorist ruined a waitress’ life

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Mary Muinde, a waitress, left her workplace at a restaurant on Mombasa Road for a routine ride home that, however, turned horrific and ruined her life.

The harrowing ordeal cost the 28-year-old single mother of two her job, nearly had her leg cut off and the ugly scars have killed the prospects of a new job.

At around 10.30pm on December 16, 2017, Ms Muinde had ended her shift at the restaurant, exhausted from long hours of standing and shuttling while taking orders from diners.

She had flagged down a motorcycle for the ride to her home at Mawasco area in Athi River.

As the motorcycle sped away with the cold wind blasting her face, she clutched tightly on the rider and, momentarily, her thoughts drifted away.

Loud bang

They were riding along Tuskys Road at Mang’eli Junction on the final stretch to her home when a loud bang shattered the calm of the night and the two were violently tossed into the air.

She crashed hard on the tarmac and her world went blank.

Since Ms Muinde was known to those who rushed to help, they had called her sister, Ms Jane Syombua.

The waitress was unconscious as she was rushed to the nearby Shalom Hospital, just off Mombasa Road, at the Kitengela interchange.

Her condition was considered serious and she was transferred to the Machakos Level 5 Hospital where she regained consciousness hours later.

She would later learn that the motorcycle she was riding had been hit by a maroon Toyota Surf, which then sped away.

Flesh on her left thigh and the back of the knee to the calf was torn off. Her upper lip had a deep cut and her face was swollen. But the boda-boda rider seemed to only have had minor bruises.

Witness

Mr Musembi would become a crucial prosecution witness in the subsequent traffic case because the owner of the maroon vehicle that was traced to a garage the following day had denied involvement in the hit-and-run incident.

Scans on the right leg showed Ms Muinde had no fractures and she was discharged from hospital — a decision that would prove costly.

“Her condition was very bad, she should have been admitted and given the medical attention she needed,” said her brother, Mr Daniel Muinde.

The following morning as Mr Muinde and Mr Musembi went to report the accident at Athi River Police Station, they spotted the maroon vehicle parked at a garage next to a popular restaurant.

They inquired about the owner of the vehicle which had dents that were being fixed.

The group was led to the first floor of the building where they found Mr Dan Warinda.

“He refused to go with us. He was with a man who I was later told was a plainclothes officer,” recalled Mr Muinde.

Suspect questioned

The case was recorded as OB/09/17/12 at the Athi River Police Station on December 17, 2017. The police brought in Mr Warinda for questioning. He denied being involved.

On December 18, while writhing in pain in bed at her sister’s house, Ms Muinde got a surprise visitor.

It was Mr Warinda, who was accompanied by a friend.

“My sister (Syombua) did not know him and she led him to the bedroom, thinking he was one of my friends who had come to visit me. He shook my hand,” Ms Muinde recalled.

“He demanded that I go with him to the station and tell the police that I had confused his vehicle and that the identified car was not the one that had hit me. I refused,” said Ms Muinde.

The two only left when the sisters alerted their brother.

Threats

The family went back to the police station and recorded the threats.

Mr Warinda was later charged with three counts at the Mavoko Law Courts. He was accused of careless driving, driving a defective vehicle and failing to stop after an accident.

Back at home, Ms Muinde’s injury worsened as her wound was slowly turning septic. She was rushed back to the Machakos Level 5 Hospital on December 25, 2017 where she was hospitalised for 35 days.

“My leg was to be amputated. The doctors told me that the wound was rotting away and would infect my entire system. I was so scared. Luckily, they decided to work on it and it was a very painful experience. But I thank God, they did not cut it off,” she narrated.

She was discharged on February 2, 2018, having incurred a Sh77,000 medical bill. The family would spend a further Sh135,000 to hire a car for almost two months of hospital visits after her discharge.

Ms Muinde had to be taken for therapy and her elderly mother came over to look after her.

Lost her job

She lost her job. In the past three years, she has been employed for a total of two months.

“I have a background in the hospitality sector. I am a waitress. Since my accident, I cannot stand for more than 10 minutes. Yet my work involves a lot of standing and moving around. The dress code, for us ladies, is mainly skirts, but I fear wearing skirts because my scar is too big; it traumatises me,” said Ms Muinde.

She narrated how she lost her job because customers kept staring at her scar after the wound was surgically grafted.

She is still looking for a job because she has two children, aged 10 and seven.

Ms Muinde and her children have been relying on her sisters and brother for upkeep.

While the case was going on in court in early 2018, Mr Muinde contacted Directline, the insurance firm that covered the motorist.

But because Mr Warinda had denied causing the accident, the insurance firm, in a letter dated August 22, 2018, said it was awaiting the outcome of investigations and the court case.

“We refer to your notice dated 16/08/2018 and received in our offices on 17/08/2018. We shall be grateful if you would kindly, therefore, withhold precipitate action against our insured pending completion of investigations into the alleged accident herein,” the letter read.

The victim was further directed to present a list of items to the insurer including a P3 form, a police abstract, copy of national identity card, a medical report, treatment notes and a discharge summary and receipts in support of claims for special damages.

“When we were told to wait for the investigations, I relaxed. I knew we would win the case because the entire truth could not be hidden. I told them about the court proceedings and they told me they would wait for the court ruling. Should we win, they would compensate us, and gave us claim reference number 98851/1 which they would use to compensate us,” Mr Muinde said.

Court ruling

The court ruling was eventually delivered on October 12, 2020. Chief Magistrate C.C. Oluoch found Mr Warinda guilty on two counts of reckless driving and failing to stop after causing an accident.

“I, therefore, conclude that the accused was properly identified as the person who had charge of the motor vehicle registration number KAL 402A, hit motorcycle registration number KMDS 016V causing injuries to Ms Muinde,” the magistrate ruled.

BY nation.africa


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Lifestyle

My cruel marriage to politician’s son

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Like any other woman about to get married, Esther Kisaghu was eager to tie the knot with her soulmate. When she finally settled down with the son of a prominent politician, who retired in 1988, it was all bliss. In her mind, the Cinderella life was a reality.

But she was wrong. She soon realised that marriage life wasn’t the bed of roses she had envisioned.

“I started like any other girl who is happy to get married. But soon, things changed. I started experiencing domestic violence,” reveals Ms Kisaghu, who studied at Alliance Girls’ High School, before going abroad for further studies.

She joined Boston University in the United States for a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration.

“When I was in the middle of my studies, my fiancé requested me to come back for us to get married…

“I didn’t complete my studies. Two years after we got married, however, he changed. He started strangling me, but I kept quiet,” she says.

Ms Kisaghu, who got married at 27, later completed her Bachelor’s at African Nazarene University in Kenya.

“It does not matter what the victim does, as long as the perpetrator wants to beat his victim, it will happen. Nothing the victim does, will stop the violence — only if the abuser changes. He chose to beat me, emotionally and psychological tortured me — it was his choice. At the heart of abuse is power and control — the twisted behaviour to control and abuse the victim,” says Ms Kisaghu, who has since founded The Rose Foundation, which assists women undergoing abuse in marriage.

“His family was powerful when he was abusing me. He also abused substance. However, as an expert in domestic violence, I later realised that drunkenness does not cause violence. It merely exacerbates it. There is no causal link between being a drunk and violence. Violence is a choice,” she says.

When the mother of one realised she was going through suffering with her son, she thought of means to get out of the marriage after nine years of painful experience.

Wanted to stab me

However, it was hard to escape and she had to devise ways out.

“I was married to a powerful politician’s son. So, escaping to the US via the studies route was not easy at all, especially because I left with my son — a no, no, in African culture,” narrates Ms Kisaghu, who was born in Taita-Taveta County.

Nevertheless, she joined Boston University, again, to study Public Health – International Health at Master’s degree level. Her going for further studies in 2004, she says, was just an escape.

“My life was in danger. I used the opportunity… to keep safe in another country with my son.”

It was at the university that it dawned on her that domestic violence is preventable.

“During the four years of studies, I decided that I should come and assist people back at home.”

Indeed, when she was done, she returned to Kenya and opened a new chapter in her life by establishing The Rose Foundation in 2015.

Gender-Based Violence

Prior to that, she volunteered her services at the Gender-Based Violence Recovery Centre at Nairobi Women’s Hospital for six months.

“Many women in Kenya get killed when the husband follows them to their new life. It’s true that victims face death every day in violent marriages, but when leaving, a safety plan must be put in place.

At The Rose Foundation, we do domestic violence training, which includes safety planning,” says Ms Kisaghu, who spent 11 years trying to get a divorce because her husband kept interfering with the case.

Children are affected

Ms Kisaghu notes that many children are affected psychologically when they witness domestic violence in their homes.

She says that victims ought to realise that leaving a violent home is possible, “no matter how difficult it is.

“What is important is to do a safety plan,” says Ms Kisaghu who is also the author of The Triumph of My Life: Domestic Violence and Society’s Thundering Silence.

by nation


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Lifestyle

Peter Gwengi: ‘Accepting I had HIV saved my life’

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“Can you imagine for the many years since I signed a memorandum of understanding with my virus, I have lived a happy and peaceful life. We have been faithful to each other,” this was Peter Gwengi’s opening statement when we visited him at his home in Migori County.

It was his wife’s poor health that made him test for the virus. He learnt about his wife’s status, and eventually his own, in a cruel manner.

“She was seriously ill and admitted to hospital in Migori, but when there was no change, and her health deteriorating, I requested to move her to a better hospital. A nurse called me on the side and whispered, ‘why are you wasting your money treating her and she is going to die anyway. She is HIV positive’,” said Mr Gwengi.

He did not believe it. He called the family doctor, who confirmed that his wife was HIV positive and had been taking drugs for six years. She had kept the news away from him, perhaps due to fear of stigma and rejection. “For six years, living with someone and not knowing she is HIV positive, and many people, including some of my family members, knew her status. I was the only one who had been in the dark all along. It took a toll on me,” he said.

READ ALSO:   Huge fire destroys property worth millions of shillings at Githurai Market

Opportunistic infection

Fearing the worst, but determined to get it over with, Mr Gwengi got tested for the virus. Even though he had prepared himself for the worst, when the test came back positive, he was devastated. Nine months later, his wife died. He lived in denial for two years, not talking about the disease to anyone — not even close relatives and friends — and refusing to take medication.

The two years were not easy for him. It was one opportunistic infection after another, but he would not accept that he had the virus. He thought of committing suicide.

He could not get out of his house or face his family or friends because of the stigma that came with the disease.

“One thing that I kept on asking myself — and I did not have an answer — is, where the disease came from. But thinking deeply, I believe I contracted HIV when I worked as a field officer in the early 1990s, a job that kept me away from home for long periods,” he said .

One day in 2001, he got seriously ill and was rushed to hospital unconscious. It was after several counselling sessions and being told that he was going to die and leave his three daughters orphans that made him accept his status. He then did everything he could to prolong his life.

READ ALSO:   Sharon Mundia’s brother walks down the aisle

 Telling his inner circle of friends about his HIV status was easier than he had expected, because he had accepted it.

He was placed on drugs, and thanks to his employer, Mr Gwengi was fully insured and would get his drugs using his medical card. Having seen how his wife suffered, he vowed to keep to the drugs regimen.

“One day, I woke up and told my virus now that we are partners and they are going to be part of me forever, they should not put me down and I will not disturb them. I would obey and follow all the requirements. And that’s how I have been living with my virus,” he narrated to the Nation.

Mr Gwengi said he maintains a well-balanced lifestyle, healthy diet, taking antiretroviral drugs on time, exercising, having adequate rest, and dropping bad habits such as taking excessive alcohol.

“HIV is a very jealous virus. If you are to take your drugs, for instance at 9pm, and you skip, it will eventually notice that something is not right and it will attack with several diseases until you adhere to the rules,” said Mr Gwengi.

Stress, he points out, is also dangerous and can undermine your health.

“This is one of the most faithful viruses. It does not want to be disturbed and it will not disturb you. All you need to do is just to accept that you have it and it will respond positively. Get yourself good friends and family members who encourage you positively.”

READ ALSO:   Huge fire destroys property worth millions of shillings at Githurai Market

Mr Gwengi founded an advocacy organisation, where he runs campaigns to promote positive living and acceptance of people with HIV.

by nation.africa


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