NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
Some years ago, many Kenyan farmers used to invest little in
their livestock and crops as a majority farmed for hobby or self-fulfillment.
growing crops, they would use family labor to till the land, grow seeds saved
from the previous season and use traditional methods that include application of
ash on crops to control pests.
those engaging in livestock keeping would rear chickens or cows offered as dowry
or gifts and allow the animals to forage for feeds.
A majority of
those who would put money into farming were those growing cash crops like
pyrethrum, coffee, tea and sugarcane.
would, however, come from companies contracted them to farm the crops in terms
of loans given as inputs. It would later be deducted from the farmers’ pay.
things have changed greatly, with many farmers ploughing a lot of personal money
from savings and loans into the soil as farming becomes a worthy agribusiness.
certified seeds to fertilizer, irrigation systems and pesticides, the Kenyan
farmer is spending more than ever before to boost food production.
great spenders are horticultural farmers growing crops like capsicum, bullet
chilli, vegetables and tomatoes.
are equally putting a lot of investment in their farms as they embrace the
zero-grazing system. The money is going into dairy feeds, mineral supplements,
milking machines and chaff cutters and breeding.
It is a new
farming world for the Kenyan farmers as agribusiness becomes one of the major
sources of income, thanks to ready market for produce in urban areas like
“I grew up on
a farm in Nakuru because my parents used to grow crops and keep livestock
besides their teaching jobs, but looking back, what they were doing actually
cannot be called as agribusiness,” David Nyorangi, an accountant in Nairobi,
said on Thursday.
him, his parents were keeping indigenous animals for many years and later
improved them through artificial insemination but that was all.
were left to graze the whole day, offered water and then milked in the evening
producing some two or three litres. The best they were fed on was napier grass,”
he said, adding his father had received initial heifer as a gift.
he went into farming some three years ago, Nyorangi took a different route from
into the business close to 4,000 U.S. dollars which went on buying two heifers,
building the dairy structure and buying animal feeds. I also bought semen for
insemination and hired a farm manager, what my father never did,” he recounted.
six cows, milking three that offer him up to 100 litres of milk every day, a
majority that he sells to neighbours at 0.6 dollars a litre.
says the investment is worth it as he earns about 1,000 dollars every month from
Watitu is another farmer who has invested heavily in agribusiness. The farmer
who grows tomatoes, capsicum and vegetables like kale and spinach in Juja, on
the outskirts of Nairobi, invested in drip irrigation and greenhouse to enable
him to harvest rain or shine.
system cost him 1,500 dollars while the greenhouse about the same amount but the
full-time farmer does not regret.
throughout the year, growing some tomatoes in the greenhouse and others in the
field. I only have one greenhouse but I intend to invest in others. I normally
coincide my planting with the dry season,” said Watitu, adding he spends good
money on pesticides and water.
Watitu says his parents used to plant beans, maize and bananas only but he
choose the high value horticultural crops because of their ready market in
Nairobi and income they offer.
He sells a
64-kilogram box of tomatoes at 60 dollars while a kilogram of capsicum goes for
about 6 dollars and a bunch of kale 0.5 dollars.
“I can say
the modern Kenyan farmer is spending up to 100 times more than the past. This is
because they are adopting new forms of technology like motorized equipment,
modified housing for animals and certified seeds all which lead to improved food
production,” said Bernard Moina, an agricultural officer in western Kenya.
noted that farmers have no choice as they are currently faced with new diseases
and erratic weather that requires change of tact to produce food.
thing is that the rising population has offered ready market unlike before when
farmers faced challenges selling their produce,” he noted.
Farm Concern shows that for every dollar spend on an acre of maize, one gets
two, while for cassava, one earns 3 others.
for every dollar spend, one earns up to six times more while tomatoes five,
highlighting why modern Kenyan farmers are going for the two crops and investing