News and knowhow for farmers

Indigenous vegetables provides Narok farmer with steady income

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Farm­ing can be a prof­it­able and ful­filling activ­ity for any­one with a com­mit­ment to pur­sue it as a ca­reer. For Florence Bon­areri of Kil­goris, Narok County, farm­ing has been her main source of live­li­hood. In­come from grow­ing and selling ve­get­ables has en­abled her to af­ford util­ity bills, edu­cate her chil­dren and in­vest in di­verse pro­jects.

“I star­ted plant­ing in­di­gen­ous ve­get­ables in 1998, it has en­abled me edu­cate my chil­dren and earn some in­come, as I par­ti­cip­ate in up­lift­ing my coun­try’s eco­nomy” says Florence. She grows in­di­gen­ous ve­get­ables com­monly re­ferred to as “saga & man­agu” in the local Kenyan dia­lects. She trans­ports the ve­get­ables from her farm in Usinoni vil­lage to Mu­thurwa mar­ket in Nairobi.

She star­ted ser­i­ous in­di­gen­ous ve­get­able busi­ness seven years ago and over the years she has scaled up the plant­ing and selling of saga, man­agu and ter­ere.  Re­cently she di­ver­si­fied into to­mato pro­duc­tion and re­lies heav­ily on rains to water her crops.

READ ALSO: Sup­plier makes over Sh50,000 weekly as de­mand for ve­get­ables surges

“My chal­lenge is that dur­ing the wet sea­son the price of the ve­get­ables drop to as low as Ksh. 300 per sack as the de­mand is low and the sup­ply is high” says Bon­areri. However dur­ing the dry sea­son period her ve­get­ables fetch a high of up to Ksh. 2,000 per sack. She thus prefers plant­ing and selling her ve­get­ables dur­ing the dry sea­son as the mar­ket is open and not flooded. There are few ve­get­ables and that means she gets to sell her ve­get­ables at good prices en­abling her to sus­tain the busi­ness.

Florence packs her ve­get­ables for easy selling. A pack of saga fetches her Ksh. 100 while a pack of man­agu goes for Ksh. 150.  On the other hand, when the mar­ket is flooded, the prices drop to Ksh. 30. “When prices drop, it is hard to make any re­turns as we still have to pay for trans­port, cess, as well as the work­ers who work on pack­ing the ve­get­ables” says Florence.

READ ALSO: Or­ganic ve­get­ables over 6 times more nu­tri­tious, study

She has however learned to find the per­fect bal­ance between sup­ply and de­mand for the right price that her cus­tom­ers are ready to pay. With the help of Equity bank, the farmer ap­plied for an emer­gency loan of 20,000 shil­lings when her to­ma­toes got in­fes­ted. She used the loan money to buy in­sect­icides to spray the to­ma­toes.

Florence has used pro­ceeds from the in­di­gen­ous ve­get­able busi­ness to di­ver­sify into in­di­gen­ous poultry farm­ing that just like the in­di­gen­ous ve­get­ables are on de­mand at the mo­ment.

READ ALSO: City women use old tyres to grow ve­get­ables

Farm­ing has really been a suc­cess­ful story des­pite a few chal­lenges she has faced. From her small ven­ture, she has grown and es­tab­lished her own home all de­pend­ing on farm­ing as she has never worked else­where to get me. Her first born son who was in nurs­ery school when she star­ted the busi­ness is now at the Kenya Med­ical Train­ing Col­lege study­ing clin­ical medi­cine. She also has twin boys who are both in form three and have all be­nefited from the farm pro­ceeds.

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