I Can Now Depend on Myself
When Tarciana Ciokinyua began receiving training from TechnoServe’s Coffee Initiative, she was able to invest her increased income in her family.
Crouching between a row of coffee trees, clippers clutched firmly in hand, Tarciana Ciokinyua expertly prunes one of the 200 productive coffee trees on her three-acre plot of land.
Tarciana is a member of Kibugu Farmers Cooperative Society, a coffee cooperative producing some of the highest quality coffee in Embu County, Kenya. But Kibugu wasn’t always so successful in their coffee production. “We were all affected by the coffee diseases and this made our production very, very low,” Tarciana said.
In 2011, farmers at Kibugu FCS began receiving agronomy training as part of their participation in the Coffee Initiative – a project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and implemented by TechnoServe, which helped to boost the incomes of nearly 270,000 farmers across East Africa.
Tarciana testified to the direct impact these trainings had on her coffee farming. “I used to dig all around my coffee trees and now I know that it disturbs the roots,” she said while simultaneously acting out a digging motion. “I now practice planting shade trees, making terraces, using the right amount of fertilizer, and have reduced the number of coffee stems to three. All this I learned from the training,” she shared.
Tarciana is also the Treasurer for her 76-member community savings group. She is not shy about sharing that it is uncommon for a single woman like herself to have been elected into a leadership role in her community. “It is very unique. In the early days, women were not valued by men. They were only seen as for chore work. But now the women are being empowered,” she said. As the treasurer, Tarciana is responsible for keeping detailed records reflecting member contributions as well as loans borrowed from the group. In order to balance the duties of her leadership position with the responsibilities of her coffee farm, Tarciana keeps a detailed calendar that helps her prioritize her activities.
Tarciana is using a portion of her coffee farm profits to empower a future generation of women. She now pays the school fees for her two granddaughters. In addition, she can now pay her electricity bills and cook with a gas stove. “I can now depend on myself,” she said. But Tarciana’s proudest achievement has been her ability to purchase materials to build a house on her property. But the house is not for herself, it is for her 35-year old son. “I am happy that I can build something that I can be remembered by,” she said.