Mathias Machika: Kakamega Man Earning Sh10,000 Daily From Jaggery

In the serene village of Imamune, nestled within Kenya’s Ikolomani sub-county, Mathias Machika has risen to prominence as a local icon due to his innovative and diligent approach to crafting jaggery. His narrative stands as a testament to human resourcefulness and tenacity amidst challenging circumstances.

Machika’s foray into jaggery production was prompted by the difficulties encountered by local sugar factories. Formerly a sugarcane farmer like many in Kakamega, he found himself at a loss when these factories encountered operational issues, leaving him unable to sell his harvest. Confronted with this predicament, he embarked on a remarkable journey into entrepreneurship.

Rather than letting his sugarcane crop go to waste, Machika devised a solution to salvage it. He ingeniously employed a sizable bull, tethered to a wooden plank, to utilize the gentle power of these animals in operating a sugarcane crusher in a circular motion. Though labor-intensive, this manual process yielded remarkable results, drawing crowds from neighboring areas eager to purchase his jaggery.

Machika’s methodical jaggery-making process comprises several stages. Initially, he extracts sugarcane juice by passing the cane through two circular aluminum cylinders mounted on a metallic frame. The extracted juice is collected in a large aluminum pot positioned strategically beneath the grinder, while the leftover cane residue is sun-dried and repurposed as firewood. Following juice extraction, it is heated for 30 minutes to concentrate the liquid, subsequently cooling for a minimum of 10 minutes until solidifying into jaggery bars, ready for packaging and distribution.

This enterprise has not only sustained Machika and his family for over a decade but has also generated employment opportunities for community members. Employing seven individuals who assist in various stages of the jaggery-making process, from harvesting cane to packaging the finished product, Machika’s venture has become a cornerstone of economic activity in the area.

Despite encountering obstacles such as raw material scarcity and inflated prices from sugarcane suppliers, Machika’s unwavering resilience and dedication remain undiminished. He takes pride in the knowledge that his venture not only supports his family but also fosters economic empowerment within the community.

Moreover, Machika’s business model transcends his personal jaggery production. He rents out his manual cane grinder to aspiring jaggery producers, further bolstering the local economy and promoting entrepreneurial endeavors.

In addition to its delectable sweetness, Mathias Machika’s jaggery boasts medicinal properties and health benefits, attracting customers from neighboring regions. It serves as a natural substitute for refined sugar in beverages and is incorporated into various traditional concoctions.

In Imamune, Mathias Machika embodies more than a mere jaggery maker; he symbolizes resilience, entrepreneurship, and communal upliftment.