A couple in Njoro has learnt how to utilise their small piece of land to reap handsome profits.
Every inch of their land is used to grow revenue. Their trick lies in choosing the right crops and animals, following production guidelines and, perhaps, the largest piece of the puzzle, marketing, all hallmarks of modern farming.
Peter Njuguna Mwangi and his wife Mary Waithera own a three-quarter acre plot at Kiamakia Village in Njoro constituency, Nakuru County.
On it, they have built five greenhouses, where they grow cabbages, kales, tomatoes and strawberries. They also have a fish pond and poultry. According to them, they earned about Sh1.2 million from their farm last year.
“I usually tell farmers that you don’t have to have 1,000 acres or more to make money from farming. It is all about how you manage the little you have. I would not be making much from this piece of land if I did not embrace modern farming,” says Mr Mwangi.
In 2004 Mr Mwangi visited a neighbour who grew flowers in his greenhouse and earned handsome profits.
“That is when the idea to grow a variety of crops in the greenhouse was born. When I went back home I discussed it with my wife and with about Sh200,000, we constructed our first greenhouse. We planted tomatoes and the returns were good,” he recalls.
It is after this experience that they decided to diversify into other crops.
For a couple who tilled their neighbours’ lands in the ‘80s, prudent saving of the Sh200 they each made a week put them on the path to success.
“We faithfully saved coins in a tin. We started with poultry which we later sold and by and by, we had saved enough to buy a plot,” says Mr Mwangi, popularly known as Chunga Mguu.
He earned the nickname from his previous job of selling plastic shoes.
“People know me by that name. Even the Njoro District Agricultural Officer knows me by that name. When I used to sell those Sadak shoes, I used to tell my customers to take care of their feet and they nicknamed me so. I love it. I am never offended when someone identifies me as Chunga Mguu.”
After touring the greenhouses, Mwangi took us to the fish pond which earns him Sh300,000 a year.
Fish is harvested four times a year during which 500 fish are harvested. Each fish goes for Sh150.
He feeds them with fish pellets, bread and mandazi which has seen the number of the fingerlings multiply from 1,000 to about 40,000.
About 200 metres away, is the spinach greenhouse and next to it stands another greenhouse, where he grows strawberries. He makes Sh5,000 from selling the nutritious fruits.
“If you do not harvest weekly, they will begin to rot. You can harvest strawberries for three to four years before uprooting them,” he says.
“From the cabbages and kales, I can make even Sh10,000 a week,” he says, gracefully recognising the presence of his wife Mary.
“This has been our commitment, we have supported one another and each step we consult each other,” he adds.
His success in mixed farming has not gone unnoticed.
Every Thursday, they conduct tours of three to four teams of farmers drawn from all over the country. Each farmer parts with is Sh200 to receive the practical training.
Annually, they hold a farmers’ field day at their home which is sponsored by Equity Bank.
The government also recognised his efforts and in 2009, the Ministry of Agriculture named him the Best Farmer in Njoro District.
His success also lies in not using pesticides and insecticides. He prepares his own from mixing leaves of medicinal trees and plants.
To the youth, he advises them to take up farming instead of depending on white collar jobs for sustenance.”
I don’t understand why youth prefer to remain idle when they can go back home and ask their parents for a piece of land, seek capital and make a good living out of farming,” he says.