Michael Musombi, has a big reason to smile owing to the financial benefits he has accrued from his 50 x 100ft sukumawiki farm his family owns.
The resident of Kanduyi Constituency in Bungoma County ventured into farming after completing his degree course in Environmental Horticulture and Landscaping Technology at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology.
The 25-year-old decided to venture into horticulture with just 100 sukumawiki seedlings.
The farm which also has banana plants, spinach and avocado trees gives him a minimum of Sh300,000 annually which if broken down translates to Sh25,000 per month. That, for what he calls his part-time job, is a well-paying venture any young entrepreneur can dream of.
A glance at his green, well-tended farm just by the roadside leaves many envious of such a beautiful garden. He believes that farming is the way to go for young entrepreneurs because there is always a ready market for farm products.
“Horticulture farming is the best one can ever venture in because there is always a ready market somewhere. Human beings must eat to have energy to carry out their daily activities, and many people feed on vegetables, especially rural settings such as here,” says Musombi.
Musembi, currently a monitoring officer at One Acre fund project in Bumula, Bungoma County encourages the youth to engage in mushroom, poultry and beehive farming among others because those are less exploited areas especially in Bungoma County.
“There is high demand of mushrooms, chicken and honey right now and I would like to encourage anyone who intends to do farming to venture in those areas of farming. You will surely not regret it,” assures Musombi.
The eldest son in a family of three identified a gap in the market for sukumawiki supply in Bungoma and started farming at their backyard and now is an employer of six labourers who help him manage the farm.
“I have employed six people who help me manage this farm. It is impossible to maintain it alone because it is huge and also I work with One Acre Fund project here in Bungoma so I must have people who can assist me in tending the vegetables,” added Musombi.
He uses organic fertilizers such as compost manure because they act as soil conditioners – they feed both the plant and the soil with nutrients.
Musembi says that he saves 40 percent of his income, ploughs back 30 percent of his profits back to the business and uses 30 percent of his income to meet his family’s needs.
A delighted Musombi reveals that three years down the line since he started farming he has bought 3 pieces of land measuring 50 by 100 feet each in Bungoma. He has also managed to educate his two siblings through their secondary school education thanks to the income from the farm.
The main challenge, that the successful horticulture farmer faces is the resistance of pathogens and pests to some of synthetic chemicals that he uses to treat his vegetables. He is however optimistic that agricultural researchers will soon come up with effective drugs to counter the stubborn pests and pathogens.
“Sometimes I experience losses because of resistant pests and pathogens to the farm chemicals I use. I am however certain that agricultural researchers will soon come up with effective drugs to counter the tenacious pests and pathogens,” Musombi says.