Bigger harvests, spare cash and a hopeful future as our season with farmer Anne ends

In partnership with One Acre Fund, we are following Anne, a smallholder farmer from Kenya, for a whole growing season. From planting to harvest, we will check in every month to see what life is really like for a farmer in rural Kenya.  Catch up with Part 1Part 2, Part 3Part 4 and Part 5. Written by Hailey Tucker.

Anne at home in Chwele, Kenya.  Photo: Hailey Tucker

Anne at home in Chwele, Kenya. Photo: Hailey Tucker

Anne says taking time to sit and reflect isn’t something she does often. Her daily activities keep her too busy. When asked to reflect on this year, though, she smiles.

“I can finally breathe again,” Anne says about her feeling at the end of the harvest season. “I’ve been spending 200 Ksh ($2.30 USD) every day on food, but now I have my own food after harvesting, so I am relieved. I am able to spend the money on other items like soap and sugar.”

Anne holds the two tools she uses most often when farming: a machete, known in Kenya as a panga, and a short hoe called a jembe.  Photo: Hailey Tucker

Anne holds the two tools she uses most often when farming: a machete, known in Kenya as a panga, and a short hoe called a jembe. Photo: Hailey Tucker

Anne says she still expects that her family will have to start buying food again at the end of next April, but even lasting until then is a big step forward.

“I’m not so worried about it because before I joined One Acre Fund, my harvest only used to last until December,” Anne says. “This year’s will last me until the end of April, and around that time, I’ll have my sweet potatoes and cassava to harvest, so that will lessen the amount I need to buy.”

“It’s better that I had millet because if I only had maize this year, I don’t think my harvest would have even lasted until December”, Anne says.

Anne plans to spend money from the millet she sells this year on new bowls, cups and plates. She will wait until January to sell it when the price goes up. Her original goal for this year was to begin a business selling clothes with the money from her harvest.

Anne’s old dishes that she plans to replace this winter.  Photo: Hailey Tucker

Anne’s old dishes that she plans to replace this winter. Photo: Hailey Tucker

“I’d like to be able to sit and sell clothes instead of walking around all day. That would be a nice moment for me,” Anne says. “With the businesses here, if you have enough stock, people come to you instead of you going to them. I’ve been working on the farm for a long time, and I’m getting tired now. If I can have a business where I’m sitting down, I think that would be perfect for me.”

Because Anne’s maize suffered from the drought that affected the region this year, she was unable to harvest enough to buy the clothes to start the business. Despite that, Anne still holds the dream for next year.

“I am moving that goal to the next harvest, when I may have enough money,” she says. “This year I don’t. It doesn’t upset me though, because I feel God will open the way when it is time. I am good with God’s plan, so I will wait until that happens.”

Anne at home in Chwele, Kenya.  Photo: Hailey Tucker

Anne at home in Chwele, Kenya. Photo: Hailey Tucker

For the future, Anne says she will not have any more children.

“The kids I have are already enough. I do expect grandchildren though,” she says grinning. “But I hope they don’t come soon. I’ve told my eldest son Briston that he doesn’t need to marry now. I told him he needs to plan his life – get a job, build a house, get furniture – before he should marry.”

She hopes the rest of her children learn from Briston’s drive and want to continue on to higher levels of education. She says if they do, she will do everything she can to get them there.

I ask Anne what she would to say to the people around the world who have been following her story.

And to that, she says, “I want to ask that they think of me and all of the plans I’ve made. As I plan for my children to be educated and as I plan to start my business, I ask that they pray with me so these can come true.”

One Acre Fund serves 125,000 smallholder farmers in Kenya, Rwanda and Burundi, helping them to increase their harvests and incomes. It provides farmers with a service bundle that includes seed and fertiliser, credit, training, and market facilitation, and enables farmers to double their income per planted acre. To learn more about their work, you can read Roger Thurow’s The Last Hunger Season.