The Sireet OEP is a cooperative of tea farmers in the Nandi Hills, Kenya.
CPF has had a long partnersip together with the Sireet OEP, starting with their involvement in the CPF Producer Partnership Programme (PPP) in 2010. The members of the cooperative were clearly seeing the effects of climate change in the region, and CPF funded them in encouragaing and educating farmers in how to diversify their income.
Luke Metto is a tea farmer, who has as part of the PPP programme diversified his income by installing beehives on his farm and selling honey. He also grows a huge variety of basic food crops in his kitchen garden, which he was trained in as part of a continuation of the PPP project in 2011.
He has a strong relationship with the extension workers from the cooperative, who support farmers to manage their farms well, and his is often used as a demo farm for other farmers and international visitors. His cows even supply the extension officers and cooperative with milk.
Luke has adult children who have moved away, but 5 family members still live on the farm. His farm consists of 3 acres, where he grows tea on 2 and has 1acre of kitchen garden and cattle.
Since participating in the PPP project, Luke has kept bees for the last 3 years, and has since bought more hives, which can be purchased as complete kits locally for 3800 Kenyan shilling each (£27). He sells small amounts of the honey to Sireet workers and in local markets, with 500 grams of honey usually selling for about 200 shillings (£1.40). He has plans to create his own honey brand, which would add value to the product and extend his customer base.
The beehives are just one of many diversification and income generation solutions that Luke has applied to his garden. As part of the kitchen garden he first started during the 2011 PPP project, he is growing some of the tallest Arrow Root plants that local extension workers have ever seen. To grow them this well he has created his own mini-marsh on his land using sheets of polythene, a secret he learned on a farmer exchange visit to Kegoi tea cooperative on the other side of Kenya.
The kitchen garden provides a wide range of vegetables and staple crops, and has helped keep the whole family in good health, as well as providing some excess product to be sold in local markets and other animals on the farm.
Over the last 2 years the extra income from beekeeping and selling vegetables from his kitchen garden, has allowed him to further invest in the farm by building a biogas tank and also started another microbusiness from rabbit keeping.
Luke was involved in the Adap2T project, and has successfully built an energy saving stove. He saves a lot of money from not having to buy charcoal anymore, and the new stove produces a lot less smoke which improves family health. The ashes from the stove can even be used as pesticides in the kitchen garden.
When discussing the future, and potential new projects, he is excited about expanding the honey business by getting more hives, and also expanding his rabbit keeping into a micro-enterprise. When it comes to new ideas, he says he is always open to suggestions! Luke also has some advice to farmers wanting to start keeping their own bees: keep the hives far away from your house! Make sure there is enough vegetation in-between the farm and where you keep the bees, as they might start building new nests very close to where you and your family live.