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28-year-old Timau farmer provides blueprint for profitable farming 

By constructing a water pan for garlic and potato production, young Timau farmer Alfred Koome is providing the blueprint for farmers in his community on how to not only farm but also farm profitably.

From the 350,000-liter reservoir, which also holds 200 fish, 10 other families source their irrigation water from him while many of his neighbours have been inspired to dig up their own water pans. In his garlic business, he sells starter seeds and gives free consultancy to budding farmers as well as helping them aggregate and sell their produce.

“Since its construction in late 2022, I can attest to a 15-20 per cent increase in both my garlic and potato yield,” Koome said.

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From two acres, the 28-year-old agronomist, who studied at Kenyatta University and India’s Balgakot University of Horticultural Science, has just harvested 130 bags of potatoes from certified planting seeds bought from nearby Kisima Farm in Timau. This he sold for Sh2,700 a bag. He currently has half an acre of garlic under production.

Similarly, he has seen a jump in profits as he is now able to harvest his crops in off-peak months. “In addition to the two traditional planting seasons, I am now able to squeeze in extra growing periods. This enables us to provide the market with potatoes when demand is at its highest and prices are at their peak. While the farmgate price for a sack of potatoes is usually between Sh2,200 and Sh2,500 this enables me to earn up to Sh4,500 per bag.”

When full the waterpan can provide adequate irrigation water for up to three weeks. Alfred waters his crops for one hour every day at six in the evening. This, he illuminates, avoids excessive evapotranspiration. He has also shifted from sprinkler watering and furrow irrigation systems to drip irrigation– which further limits water loss.

“Aside from growing my own garlic, I work with 35 satellite farmers most of whom are in my region and a few in Embu, Meru, Likipia, and Nyeri,” he informed. He sells planting seeds to them and offers free agricultural extension services. “Through a buy-back program I provide the farmers I work with with a ready market I have gotten from large-scale Rwandese buyers in Nairobi.” 

Unlike most agro-commodities in Kenya, garlic prices are relatively stable throughout the year, hovering between Sh200-210 per kilogram.

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“I am working with a primary school dropout who just harvested two tonnes of garlic on under one-quarter acreage– these are numbers I myself have never gotten. He just sold his entire harvest at Sh200 a kilo,” Alfred gleefully informs.

Also a technical officer for the National Agricultural and Rural Inclusive Growth Project (NARIGP)– a government program aimed at boosting agricultural productivity and profitability in rural communities– his agricultural journey, on which he is on with members of his community, is testament to the transformative impact of agriculture when done expertly.

Alfred Koome: 0750 490085

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