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Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Farmer strives to increase agricultural productivity

By Bob Aston
Agriculture continues to be the backbone of Kenya’s economy as more farmers embrace agribusiness. In Wangwachi area of Ol-Moran ward, Laikipia County, a seventy two (72) year old farmer still has big plans for his farm.
George Wachira Njoori started farming in 1988 when he bought a five (5) acre piece of land in Wangwachi. Since then he has been able to educate his four children through the farm proceeds.
He has planted fruits like oranges, mangoes, pineapples, tree tomatoes, custard apple, bananas, apples, pawpaw, avocado, grapes, strawberry, tangerine, lemon and loquat.
Wachira feeding his dairy goats

He has also planted other types of crops that include; cassava, tomatoes, stevia, beans, pumpkins, lemon grass and fennel herb. He has also kept dairy goats as well as being involved in apiculture.

He said that he only started enjoying the fruits of his work in 2012 after he had installed an electric fence. Since then he has been able to improve his farm by adopting good agricultural practices.
“Farmers in this area usually have to contend with destruction caused by elephants. I used to experience a lot of losses as most of my crops were being destroyed by elephants. I eventually decided to install an electric fence to protect my crops,” said Wachira.
He has been particularly keen on fruit farming and more than half of his farm is under fruit cultivation. The duration that it takes for fruits to mature does not bother him and he knows that once he starts harvesting he will be able to enjoy good returns while fruits also do not require a lot of nurturing.
He has employed two casual laborers to assist in the management of the farm. He noted that last year he managed to get Ksh 230,000 from sale of oranges alone.
“I have attended many field days and farmer exchange visits in many parts of the Country. This has enabled me to learn a lot from my fellow farmers and I am now practicing what I usually learn during such events,” said Wachira.
Wachira admiring his orange trees
This year he said the returns from oranges will be lower than last year due to the prevailing dry condition experienced in the area although this will be compensated through tomato farming which he expects will realize a profit of more than Ksh 500,000. He is planning to invest in a drip irrigation kit once he harvests the tomato.
This he expects will enable him to reduce the time spent irrigating his produce through basin irrigation and the cost of fuel used in pumping water. He has dug two (2) water pans which have reduced dependence on rain fed agriculture.
“I want to practice Climate Smart Agriculture. I have heard about the project that Arid Lands Information Network is implementing in Matwiku area and I think adopting what the group is doing will really help me,” said Wachira.
Some of the farm produce he said are only meant for family consumption particularly strawberries, grapes, cassava, yams, apples, lemon grass and kennel herb.
He has also started doing value addition by coming up with dehydrated farm produce. Wachira has urged youths to venture into agriculture as they will not only be self employed but they will be able to make more money through agriculture than by doing white collar jobs.
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