The Lare division is located on the eastern edge of the Mau Forest, East Africa’s largest mountain forest, and is part of the dry highlands of Rift Valley, an area that has experienced dramatic changes in rainfall patterns in recent years, bringing great concern for future food security.
One crop that has been recommended to mitigate the impact of these climate changes is the traditional, locally grown variety of Lare pumpkin. It has a high yield, with both the fruit and the leaves being edible, and adapts well to local conditions, providing a good mulch for the soil. In addition, the flowers attract bees, which increases pollination of other crops. However the production of this crop is seriously threatened by the introduction of non-native varieties which are faster growing and more productive.
The Lare pumpkin is oval in shape and varies in size, with the average weight ranging from three to five kilograms. The skin is light green in color with white stripes and has orange flesh. It is planted during the rainy season (March/April) and harvested after six months. Traditionally, the pumpkins were stored in pits in the earth, wrapped in dry grass. Today granaries are used. The seeds are kept for planting the following year, and for exchanging with other farmers.
Lare pumpkin has many uses. The leaves are used as a vegetable in many dishes such as kimito, a dish of pumpkin leaves, potatoes and broad beans. Due to its highly nutritious properties, it is also used in making light food for infants and the elderly. The pumpkin flesh is made into a flour, which is mixed with wheat flour and used in making chapati (flat bread) and maandazi (doughnuts). It is also used to make a juice, and the seeds are edible when boiled or dried and milled to make a flour used in porridge and for medicinal purposes.
It comprises 30 producers, 8 men and 22 women, belonging to the Nganoini Farmer Field School. They work together on all phases of production, from selection of seeds to cultivation and commercialization of the product.
The Presidium aims to help the producers promote and commercialize the various products on local markets, school canteens, etc.
Lare village, Njoro district, Rift Valley province
Leah Wanjiku Kinita
Tel. +254 711547228
Samson Kiiru Ngugi
Tel. +254 719100913