News and knowhow for farmers

Lawyers journey from broker to grower and supplier of cucumber and lettuce

zucchiniIn 2009 Mathew Tejeu re­gistered for a Bach­elor’s de­gree in law at Africa Naz­arene Uni­versity. He would source farm pro­duce from farm­ers in dif­fer­ent loc­a­tions and trans­port to Nairobi to sell dur­ing his free time as a way of mak­ing pocket money and sav­ings.

Little did he know that this was part of train­ing which would usher him into a luc­rat­ive cu­cum­ber and lettuce pro­duc­tion, a ven­ture which is cur­rently earn­ing him up to Sh160,000 a month since he star­ted it in 2014 shortly after gradu­ation.

“While in school, I worked as farm pro­duce broker.  I would source some to­ma­toes from farm­ers in Nyandarua to sell at Marikiti Mar­ket in Nairobi. I also con­nec­ted some sheep and goats farm­ers from Kaji­ado who wanted to sell their live­stock to pro­spect­ive buy­ers and if the deal went through, I earned my com­mis­sion.” Said Tejau

It is from this job, he man­aged to save Sh50,000 which he used to hire the farm­hand and buy the in­puts. He paid the farm­hand Sh2,000 to run the daily activ­it­ies on the farm, Sh15,000 he spent on in­stalling drip ir­rig­a­tion, Sh10,000 on fer­til­iser and some to buy lettuce and cu­cum­bers seeds.

He would then plant the two crops within a par­ti­tioned three acres piece of a plot at Birika between Isinya and Kiserian in Kaji­ado County in Novem­ber the same year tar­get­ing to start har­vest­ing end of Decem­ber and through Janu­ary when the ve­get­ables are trail­ing high in most local mar­kets.

“Dur­ing this time there is al­ways drought in most parts of the coun­try and ve­get­ables are hard to get hence the there is al­ways high de­mand against low sup­ply. It there­fore be­comes the best op­por­tun­ity for ve­get­able farm­ers to make a good in­come,” said Tejeu.

Ac­cord­ing to him, Lettuce takes 40-60 days to ma­ture de­pend­ing on the weather while cu­cum­bers take 60 days to har­vest.

RE­LATED CON­TENT: Law gradu­ate earns Sh4.2m from to­mato farm­ing tar­get­ing low sup­ply dry sea­son to pro­duce the crop

The law gradu­ate has since mastered the art of pro­du­cing the two crops. He plants 5000 pieces of lettuce every two weeks while cu­cum­bers he plants after every four weeks ro­ta­tion­ally and con­tinu­ously throughout the year to spread his har­vest and in­come.

He har­vests 2,000 pieces of lettuce after every two weeks and 2,000 kilos of cu­cum­bers in every four weeks.

A piece of lettuce goes at Sh30 at Marikiti Mar­ket while a kilo of cu­cum­bers sells at Sh50 at the same mar­ket at a max­imum price. This trans­lates to Sh160,000 gross in­come per month be­fore de­duct­ing Sh16,000 trans­port cost per week among other ex­penses.

RE­LATED CON­TENT: City law­yer finds cool cash in rear­ing fast matur­ing exotic bulls for meat

Today, Tejau has fur­ther em­ployed five farm­hands whom he pays between Sh9,000 to Sh13,000 per month de­pend­ing on the work done.

One big chal­lenge he faces is the gov­ern­ment’s high tax­a­tion on pesti­cides that shoots up the price of the farm input. “If I were to spend Sh10,000 per week on pesti­cides, for ex­ample, with the new VAT reg­u­la­tions, the fig­ure will rise to Sh75,000 in­creas­ing the cost of pro­duc­tion,” said Tejeu.

Des­pite the chal­lenges, he is plan­ning to put up a gro­cery in Birika, which will en­able him and other farm­ers sell their pro­duce dir­ectly to con­sumers and big re­tail out­lets without passing through middle­men, who he says deny farm­ers their full re­turns.

RE­LATED CON­TENT: Grow­ing Car­men cu­cum­ber can earn over Sh200,000 in four months

Be­sides farm­ing, Jejeu is also the CEO of Centre for Ad­vocacy Against Al­co­hol and Drug Abuse, an NGO ad­voc­at­ing for a drug-free so­ci­ety.

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