Women Reap Big After Turning Cactus Into Cash Cow

  • 'When life gives you lemons, make lemonade' has for ages proved as a useful adage but for a group of Nakuru women, cacti plants can be easily turned into wine as well.

    Farmers in the region as well as neighbouring Laikipia County have figured out a way of harnessing its nutritional and monetary value by making wines, yoghurt, jam, honey, oils, concentrates and juices.

    The group, which also include youth, underwent an Agricultural training where they learnt the new innovative use of cactus that for years has been considered a menace.

    The training was carried out by Participatory Ecological Land Use Management Association (PELUM) and Laikipia Permaculture Center (LPC).

    A person holding a basket full of cactus fruit.
    A person holding a basket full of cactus fruit.
    KNA

    Speaking to the press, Director of LPC Joseph Lentunyoi noted that the study was inspired by dwindling livestock rearing fortunes.3

    The team sought to find an alternative source of income that residents from regions plagued by cactus could generate their livelihood from the plant.

    “One indicator of overgrazing was that the animals ran short of pasture so we figured out ways to try and help the communities in areas dominated by the notorious cacti (opuntia stricta) to make it an alternative source of livelihood.

    "Previously, Kenyans have been encouraged to cut the cactus plants and bury them deep in the soil,” he stated.

    To boost their yields, PELUM equipped the farmers with know-how on increasing yields on existing agricultural lands, including restoration of degraded lands.

    They were also trained on how to make soap and oils from the plant to improve their livelihoods.

    Cacti has been considered a nuisance and at one time National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) planned to release insects that had been used to successfully eliminate the plant in South Africa.

    Farmers in semi-arid areas where the plant thrives had complained of reduced livestock blaming it for the death of their animals.

    Director to Laikipia Permaculture Center (LPC) Joseph Lentunyoi (Left) and Advocacy officer at Participatory Ecological Land Use Management Association (PELUM) Benson Isoe drinking wine from Cactus.
    Director to Laikipia Permaculture Center (LPC) Joseph Lentunyoi (Left) and Advocacy officer at Participatory Ecological Land Use Management Association (PELUM) Benson Isoe drinking wine from Cactus.
    KNA