Toror Initiative: Fruited Plains works with the people of Mt. Elgon, Kenya. The majority of the people of Mt. Elgon are from the Sabaot tribe. Toror in Sabaot means, “to elevate or raise up”. Fruited Plains would like to elevate and raise up the lives of the people on Mt. Elgon. This Initiative addresses the long-standing problem of poverty.
The Problem: There are approximately 500,000 people on Mt. Elgon. They are primarily farmers. The farmers primarily grow local vegetables and maize, which there is little to no profit. Moreover, due to the fact there are no markets on the mountain, farmers must find ways to get their crops down the mountain. Most of these options are costly and very time consuming.
The elevation of Mt. Elgon rises to 13,500 feet and the terrain is rugged to say the least! Most have to bring their crops by donkey to transport their crops down the mountain to sell. Once they reach the markets, the buyers offer significantly less than market value. The people; limited in options, have no choice but to accept the offer.
Not only are the farmers accepting significantly less than what their crops are worth, but they spend the little money they make in the markets they sell in, causing a depression in their own villages. And the vicious cycle of poverty continues.
The Solution: Fruited Plains realizes the only way to help these farmers rise out of poverty is to teach them how to grow high value crops and assist in connecting them to buyers. High value crops are those that must be grown to meet Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and are highly profitable.
In 2014 Fruited Plains became certified as a Passion Fruit Nursery. There are many markets and large profits for certified passion fruit that meet GAP standards. This is a huge paradigm shift for these farmers. They have to learn farming on a whole new level.
Fruited Plains trains the farmers on GAP from preparing their land to harvest. Although high value crops can be labor intensive and must meet certain standards, the return on the farmers’ investment is anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000% of what they made farming maize and local vegetables! Most farmers on Mt. Elgon rarely see any profit and those that do, it comes nowhere close to the profit margins they are currently making.
We do believe in giving a hand up, not a handout. As a result, we have formed a true partnership with our farmers. Fruited Plains has agreed to provide all training to the farmers free of charge. The farmers’ work with our Agronomist who visits them, on their farms, to assist with ongoing GAP as well as resolve any issues they may be having. The farmers must purchase the necessary materials to grow the passion fruit and we have agreed to share the cost of spraying the crops. The farmers are organized into Co-ops, which allows for a sharing of resources as well as accountability.
Fruited Plains will eventually move into other high value crops to diversify what is being grown on the mountain and to further assist the people.
The Impact: As the farmers of Mt. Elgon make an income, they are able to feed their families, pay school fees for their children, pay for health care needs as well as other household necessities. Moreover, they will have the capital to invest in their farming business as well as begin new businesses on the mountain. In time, communities and markets will be developed on the mountain, moving it from a depression to a thriving economy. The people of Mt. Elgon will no longer need to travel long distances on rugged terrain in order to buy necessities.
Moreover, the people of Mt. Elgon will be able to care for themselves, their families, and their communities. They will do so with dignity, hard work and self-respect.