In the arid region of Kyuso, Kenya, livestock keepers often encounter complications when treating their herds for diseases and parasites. Veterinary services and chemical treatments are often inadequate, expensive, or altogether unavailable, causing seemingly minor ailments to lead to unnecessary death. In 2005, Joyce and other farmers in her regions experienced a dramatic spike in livestock diseases, a result of increased drought conditions. Inspired by her grandmother who treated human diseases with herbs, local farmer Joyce Mawia Mutiso looked to nature for solutions. She identified specific plants, which she has tested over time, that can be applied to effectively control the stubborn parasites like ticks, mites, worms and some diseases like diarrhea that affect livestock. From this experimentation, Joyce gained a wealth of local solutions focusing on livestock diseases. One such innovation is her Mutungati concoction for controlling ticks.
To create her concoction, Joyce uses Commiphora Madagascariensis trees (known in the local akamba language as mutungati). She removes the tree bark, mixes it with water, and boils it for six hours, or until the mixture becomes oily and red in color. She leaves the mixture to cool and finally sprays round the animal. Alternatively, an old cloth can be used to wash the entire animal with the mixture. This mutungati concoction is effective in controlling ticks and mites.
Joyce, now a fulltime ‘daktari’ (Swahili for doctor), contributs significantly to reduction of livestock deaths in her village and beyond. She shares her knowledge and techniques by training many farmers in Kyuso on how to create her Munguti concoation. With the help of Prolinnova and Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) Joyce has been able to share her innovation widely. For example, she participates in and demonstrates at field days organized by the ministries or ALIN. Ensuring livestock health by controlling ticks enhances both food and economic security for the farmers.
Another significant impact is availability of cheap and locally-available solutions to livestock diseases; communities no longer walk long distances to buy the expensive chemicals or to find veterinary care.