DONTILLAR: From Tour Guiding To Guiding Farmers

Dontillar Shalli Mwakio is a mother of 5 who found herself in the agricultural space training farmers and farmer groups {Self Help Groups, CBOs, Youth and Women} on financial literacy and good agricultural practices by chance. Born and bred in Taita, Dontillar understands the farming landscape in the county explicitly. Despite being trained on Tourism, she was selected by Ward Agricultural Officer to participate in a training by FAO as a ToT in her county. After the project ended, she attended another training by CropLife seconded by Agrochemicals Association of Kenya. CropLife training focused mainly on Integrated Pest Management and how to be a ToT.

It is while at CropLife that Dontillar was connected to CropCare Technologies Ltd, a Kenyan based company that specializes in providing essential support services to agribusinesses with a goal of enhancing the functionality, efficiency and productivity of crop based value chains. CropCare Technologies is a business development service provider for all agricultural value chain actors with inclusive business models in the horticultural sector. At CropCare, Dontillar was integrated into Promoting SSPs Sustainability through an all-Inclusive Model project, a partnership between CropCare and KCDMS that seeks to promote sustainability of the SSP model in six counties in Kenya to improve productivity of horticultural value chains including mango, banana, avocado, pineapple, passion fruit, sweet potato, and African Leafy Vegetables. As an agribusiness coach, her work is to mentor SSPs and farmers through capacity building, linkages, networking and to establish sustainable partnerships among the actors through the unique agribusiness coaching model employed by CropCare.

Armed with little experience in training farmers Dontillar’s grasp, innovation and individualism while meeting with stakeholders and value chain actors in her Taita Taveta County has made her very popular with the community, Ward agricultural Officers and Ward Crop Officers. In a span of 4 months she has been invited to impacted more than 25 groups on good agricultural practices and IPM, group dynamics, financial literacy and enhanced access to finance though linkages financial institutions including promotion of savings though the village loans and savings associations (VSLA’s). A job she says has given her so much joy and satisfaction as she is contributing positively to real issues affecting her community. The tangible results when a group that was at the verge of collapse turns around and the respect accorded to her keep her going.

Being an arid and semi-arid area, lack of fresh water to irrigate crops and feed animals remains a key hindrance across board. However, developing innovative solutions such as water harvesting and catchment during rainy seasons and using it during dry seasons is key in mitigating drought in the county she says. Group dynamics, lack of record keeping, low morale among members and mismanagement are some of the key challenges she has encountered while dealing with farmer groups.


Her work majorly focuses on empowering the farmers as well as increased production and efficiency using localized solutions. Her future dreams is to start a demo farm where she can train more farmers an adventure she hopes to start on soon once she secures a water tank to collect water.

Members of Wezesha Self Help Group in Buguta, Voi Sub-County in Taita Taveta receive KSh. 200,000 loan for improved productivity from the Women Enterprise Fund. The financial linkage was brokered by CropCare agribusiness Coach Dontillar