How to reap big from horticultural farming
At 33, Lucy Wambui who comes from Nyeri County is smiling all the way to the bank due to her leafy cabbage, which she grows for commercial purposes.
She never minds what fellow youths brand her for associating herself with farming, a venture believed to be that of retirees.
“At my age, most youths are grappling and jostling for white-collar jobs. I’m into farming because I know how much it is worth,” says the farmer.
To Wambui, farming is more of a calling, as she comes from a family of great farmers. Nyeri is popularly known for farming activities, especially vegetables, fruits, tea, and coffee. The region also produces onions, potatoes, and tomatoes. Some people cultivate maize and beans.
Just like her name, Wambui grows multiple crops on her farm, which is at Kwa Wambui, a remote village adjacent to Hombe Forest, Mathira Constituency. Transport to the mark for her farm produce has also been boosted as local infrastructures such as roads have been improved.
On arrival at her farm, you will not miss the cabbages, tomatoes and potato plants growing in rows. Wambui, who is a mother of two, also cultivates maize and beans.
She ventured into farming in 2017 and holds no regrets for the move. Wambui explains that initially she tried to work in the corporate sector but the jobs were not paying enough to settle her needs fully. She tried her hands-on horticultural farming and it is here that she found solace for her troubled soul. Finally, she could easily manage her bills.
“Whatever little I save, I invest in the farm,” she said.
Wambui says she was inspired into farming by her brother. She decided to inject Sh50,000 as the initial capital from her own savings.
“An acre of lease land here goes for Sh24,000 per year. I started with tomatoes, whose first yields were not that impressive. However, I did not give up,” she explains.
Lack of water, among other factors, was the main bottleneck in her venture. Not to mention that it was her first time to venture into tomato farming.
Wambui is now a happy farmer, and she discloses that in every three months she pockets over Sh100,000 in profits, after deducting the production costs.
She also does manual jobs such as land preparation, sowing, weeding and as well as spraying chemicals to her plants, a move she says has helped her reduce labour cost.
“Why should I incur costs to hire someone to do spraying, yet I can do it? Labour expenses are some of the factors farmers should observe, especially if they are farming for commercial purposes,” she advised.
Wambui adds that she hires casual staff when she is overwhelmed by work. Other expenses critical to the success of the venture include securing quality seeds, manure, fertiliser, and chemicals.
She cultivates the cabbages, tomatoes, and potatoes on a two-acre piece of land, which is subdivided into portions in order to accommodate the variety of crops. She introduced maize and beans so as to practice crop rotation.
Recently, she introduced pumpkins and courgettes, a move that she says is very promising and forthcoming as some clients’ are requesting the produce. Besides using organic and inorganic fertilisers to improve soil fertility, farm experts say leguminous plants such as beans also aide in that process. Beans are rich in Nitrogen, vital minerals for soils and plants, and the Wambui grows them to maintain soil fertility. Other legume crops are cowpeas, garden peas, soybeans and as well as peanuts.