BUSIA, Kenya, March 28 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Colletta Anyango saunters around a large, well-kept garden, carefully identifying and plucking the leaves of plants ranging from herbs and vegetables to fruit bushes and trees. Some have shed their leaves in defence against the dry weather typical of western Kenya early in the year, while others are lush green.
Members of Famers With a Vision look at plants in their medicinal herb garden in Busia County, Kenya, January 2017.
Anyango belongs to Farmers With a Vision, a community organisation based in Busia County that created the garden for medicinal plants, which it processes into treatments and other products.
The group’s aim is to help preserve these plants, not only to fight diseases but also for the purpose of research, while producing income for its members.
They make anti-fungal and bacterial soaps, oils, ointments, mosquito-repellent jelly, anti-malarial tea, and black stones to extract snake-bite venom, marketed under the registered label Didasco Products.
They also sell detergents, washing-up powder, liquid floor cleaner and disinfectants.
Anyango, who is involved in sales, said uptake is high. The high cost of conventional medicine, coupled with inadequate public health service delivery, has driven people towards herbal medicine, she added.
The group members, who number more than 30, have one communal garden, while individuals cultivate their own gardens too. They receive training to plant, care for and harvest the medicinal and fruit plants which are then made into products by members.
Mercy Odhiambo, who is in charge of promoting Didasco Products, said mosquito repellent is popular due to the high prevalence of the biting insects in Kenya.
“It is bought mostly by people who work on night shifts. It is obtained from the artemisia plant, which has properties for treating malaria, among other ailments,” she explained.
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