NEED: The group’s aim was to provide alternative sources of income for communities living around Kakamega Forest who depended on the forest for their energy needs. Extraction of forest resources for firewood, charcoal and other needs was contributing to the destruction of the forest. Kakamega Forest is the only tropical forest in Kenya with a wealth of flora and fauna. It is an important natural resource in Kenya.
AVENUE TO MEET NEED: The group exploits the commercial capabilities of the plant through secondary processing of the plant’s parts to extract essential aromatic oils. These oils were traditionally used in the treatment of respiratory ailments through inhalation when placed in boiling water. Local communities have for a long time used the plant to repel mosquitoes, as a flavour agent and as protection for grains against pests. The group has set up demonstration farms where community members are trained on the plant’s cultivation and essential oils extraction process
IMPACT: Commercial exploitation of the medicinal plant has created an alternative livelihood for communities living aroundKakamega Forest.Theimmediate impact of the project was a reduction in exploitation of Kakamega Forest resources for upkeep. This was as a result of creation of alternative sources of income. This has also increased awareness on the benefits of biodiversity conservation in the surrounding communities.
From the plant extract, the group produces balms and ointments under the brand name Naturub®. It is marketed as a treatment for colds, congestion, pains, aches and insect bites. Part of the group’s income is also ploughed back into forest conservation activities. The commercial cultivation of Ocimum kilimandscharicum and secondary processing to produce different medicinal products ensures the community members have disposable income that improves their lives and reduces reliance on Kakamega forest.
INNOVATION: Muliru Farmers Conservation Group was formed with a vision of commercially cultivating caphor plant (Ocimum kilimandscharicum), a medicinal plant whose extract is used in balms for treatment of colds, chest congestion, pains, aches and insect bites.
NETFUND EFFECT: Muliru Farmers Conservation Group received a grant in the NETFUND GIA 2014 which enabled the group to integrate solar power with the existing liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) powered plant reducing processing costs by 60%. As a result, the essential oils production also went up from 18 runs from the use of one gas cylinder to 24 runs from using the solar system. Monthly profit for the group has increased by over 300%. The group has now employed 22 workers full time and 87 casual labourers.
Caphor (Ocimum kilimandscharicum) seedling production has also gone up by over 600% monthly further increasing the group’s potential impact.