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.
of those who would put money into farming were those
growing cash crops like pyrethrum, coffee, tea and
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.
farmers 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 Nairobi.
“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
when he went into farming some three years ago, Nyorangi
took a different route from his parents.
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 the animals.
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
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