Mathias Machika: Kakamega Man Earning KSh10,000 Daily From Jaggery

In the tranquil village of Imamune, nestled in the picturesque Ikolomani sub-county of Kenya, Mathias Machika has risen to local prominence as a revered figure.

His distinctive and industrious approach to producing jaggery has not only sustained his family for over a decade but has also created employment opportunities for others in the community, reviving a fading tradition.

Mathias Machika’s foray into the world of jaggery-making was born out of necessity. Formerly a sugarcane farmer, he, like many residents of Kakamega, faced challenges when local sugar factories encountered severe issues, leaving farmers with no outlets to sell their harvest. Confronted with this dilemma, Machika embarked on an innovative journey.

Instead of allowing his valuable sugarcane crop to go to waste, he devised a method to salvage it. Manually crushing the sugarcane in small quantities, he was astonished when people from neighboring areas started flocking to buy the resulting jaggery.

Machika’s manual jaggery-making process is a complex, labor-intensive endeavor involving several stages. It commences with the extraction of sugarcane juice by feeding the cane into two circular aluminum cylinders mounted on a metallic frame.

The juice flows into a large aluminum sufuria (a traditional Kenyan cooking pot) strategically placed beneath the grinder. The leftover cane waste is carefully dried in the sun, repurposed as firewood, rendering the process eco-friendly.

Once the juice is collected, it is poured into a metal container with water and heated for approximately 30 minutes to concentrate the liquid. After cooling for at least 10 minutes, the liquid is poured into small containers, solidifying into jaggery bars ready for packaging and sale.

Machika’s enterprise has not only sustained him and his family but has also become a financial lifeline for his community. Earning between 10,000 and 15,000 Kenyan shillings daily, he supports his family, covers school fees for his children, and manages various expenses.

Furthermore, Machika has generated employment opportunities for seven individuals in the community, showcasing his commitment to community development. Despite challenges like raw material scarcity and fluctuating prices, his resilience and dedication shine through. Proudly sustaining his family, he also economically empowers others by renting out his manual cane grinder to aspiring jaggery producers.

Beyond its economic impact, Mathias Machika’s jaggery has gained recognition for its medicinal value and health benefits. Customers from neighboring regions seek out this natural sweetener as a healthier alternative to refined sugar, incorporating it into traditional brews, solidifying its place in local culture.