Less than a kilometre from Kianyaga town is a one-acre farm owned by Peter Murimi and Nester Gaturi where mixed farming is all the norm. The farm is dotted with coffee, Hass avocado, pawpaw, macadamia bananas and vegetables. The farm is also home to two cows and chicken.
Nester explains that they went for mixed farming after developing strategies for maximizing land use as nowadays the land is becoming scarce by the day. With no much capital at the beginning, they came up with an enterprise that not only provides work throughout the year but will also increases the productivity of the farm.
The farm hosts 300 stems of coffee, 25 stems of Hass Avocado, 20 trees of pawpaw, five macadamia trees and 30 banana stems. Gaturi explains that she is able to keep the farm in continuous production while reducing the risk of waste as much of the waste is recycled saving her much on the cost of purchasing external inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides.
“Waste from the farm acts as feed to the livestock while the waste from the livestock acts as manure to the crops and this reduces our dependency of external inputs. The farming thus complements one another and even reduces the risk of pest and diseases,” Murimi explains.
To enhance their farming, the couple attends farmers’ training organized by the Ministry of Agriculture and from the different independent organizations and agricultural training centers. The couple also liaises with other farmers to ensure that they are not exploited by the middlemen.
“We also network with other farmers to sell as a group. We have previously been exploited by the middlemen as they used to buy our produce at throwaway prices while at the same time enticing some farmers to harvest their produce even before they acquired the right market weight,” Gaturi explains.
“With much cost-cutting on production and labour we are able to harvest an average of 3,000 kilograms of coffee every year selling at Sh70 at Kianyaga Factory, some 500 pieces of Hass avocado selling at Sh6 at Kakuzi, 500 kilograms of macadamia selling at Sh200 while bananas and pawpaws are sold locally averagely at Sh800 per bunch and Sh20 per kilogram of pawpaw respectively,” Murimi explains.
On average every year the farm earns them close to Sh500,000 and with this, the couple has managed to educate their children in some of the best schools in the country. The couple has also managed to construct a modern house, and also purchase a piece of land in Mwea at a cost of Sh400,000 and plant Hass variety of avocado.
“With mixed farming, we have no single regret as the farming not only provides us with a variety of financial benefits but also offers us a high return on work, as all the products are utilized. The type of farming also offers us a shoulder to lean on when one enterprise is doing poorly in a given season and we are able to fall back on income from another enterprise,” Murimi explains.
To the youth and other people claiming that there is no job opportunities, Gaturi advises that they should learn that there are lots of jobs opportunities if only they accept to start small and work passionately towards their dream jobs.