Saning’o Kuraru thrives in mixed farming
A few kilometres away from Narok town, along Narok-Mulot road sits Saning’o Kuraru’s farm. He practices mixed farming. He has beaten all odds, by practicing this kind of farming, in an area where most people are pastoralists.
Kuraru owns a farm that is known as Elatia Green Farm. The farm is popular in the entire county. He rears dairy cows, grows an assortment of vegetables. Besides, he grows crops such as pawpaws, oranges, bananas, grafted avocados, pepper, among other crops in the farm that is approximately ten acres. In addition, Kuraru keeps poultry.
Albeit the farmer studied mechanics, majoring in agricultural equipment, farming has been innate in him. The dream of becoming a farmer has been in his mind since his childhood.
“After completing my studies I held onto my career as a mechanical engineer, for two years, dealing with agricultural equipment. Later on, I became a tour guide for twenty-seven years in Balloon Safaris and Southern Cross companies and later became a freelance tour guide. However, I had a passion and dream for farming, which made me retire earlier,’’ reveals Kuraru.
He adds that when he was working as a tour guide, he was also practicing farming, though on a small scale. The farmer had employed a worker who helped on the farm while he was a tour guide. Currently, he has more than 30 dairy cows and more than 400 chicken on his farm, and most of his chicken are layers.
In a quest to curb water shortage in the farm, the farmer drilled a borehole which is 102 metres deep, spending Sh1.5 million. “I spent Sh1.5 million to drill a borehole which pumps water into a 30,000 litres capacity tank, which I use to irrigate my crops because Narok is one of the areas which are dry,’’ says Kuraru.
According to the farmer, drilling a borehole is very expensive and many farmers rarely afford it. “Sh5,500- Sh7,500 is required in order to drill one metre (three feet). However, farmers should not give up. They can use tanks to collect water from the top of the houses,’’ advises the farmer.
He emphasizes that he will not surrender easily due to various challenges. The farmer reveals that he gets 186 litres of milk every day from his Friesian cows. Nevertheless, he sells only 150 litres daily and keeps some few litres for home use and for feeding calves.
He insists that since he maintains cleanliness in the farm, he gets clients in Narok town without any difficulty. His customers are mainly hotels in the town and its environs.
Kuraru has also grown crops which he uses to feed his cows. “I have grown grass on 4.8 acres of land, which is cut and mixed with banana leaves, Desmodium, Guatemala, sweet potato vines among others,’’ he says.
He adds that he grows maize which is cut down before maturity, to be used in feeding the cows when there is a shortage of feeds. Apart from that, the farmer has Napier grass which he uses to feed his animals. He also stores bales of grass which he feeds to his cows.
“I have 160 bales. My farm produces approximately 820 bales of grass when cutting down once,’’ he says.
In the farm, he has an office where he keeps records of his animals.
“We have offices where we keep health records of every cow in the farm in order to ease management,’’ says Kuraru, adding that a vet is called in case there is an issue affecting the cows.
The farmer also has 240 chicken which lay eggs and 150 hybrid chicken and in total, he collects seven and four trays respectively, from the birds. There is a ready market for eggs in the area. Initially, he used to buy chicks elsewhere, but today, he has incubators, which he uses to hatch the eggs.
Apart from rearing dairy cows and keeping poultry, Kuraru also grows fruit trees.