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Mixed farming offers former government worker perfect nest egg

mixed farming

Fle­ciah Wam­bui Kinyua, a former civil ser­vant at the Min­istry of Health who was among the 25,783 civil ser­vants who were re­trenched in 2000 is now cham­pi­on­ing ceri­als, ve­get­able and dairy farm­ing among oth­ers in Kir­inyaga after her an un­ex­pec­ted de­par­ture from the well-pay­ing job.

“We were re­trenched due as a con­di­tion set by the World Bank and In­ter­na­tional Mon­et­ary Fund to re­sume lend­ing to Kenya,” said Fle­ciah.

The re­trench­ment, catch­ing her un­awares, she de­cided to re­treat back to her home in Kir­inyaga county. With a lot of time in her hand she star­ted ex­plor­ing what busi­ness ven­tures she could start to earn in­come. After months of soul search­ing and re­search, she settled on farm­ing hav­ing iden­ti­fied grow­ing mar­ket for vari­ous ag­ri­cul­tural pro­duce in her local mar­ket.

It would be the best de­cision she ever made, which has now grown into a five acre en­ter­prise ac­com­mod­at­ing vari­ous tree spe­cies, cer­eals, cab­bages, cof­fee, ba­na­nas and cows. Her zeal and pas­sion in this kind of farm­ing would see her feted as the most over­all na­tional win­ner in the women cat­egory of the 2014 Elgon Kenya Na­tional Farm­ers Awards.

“When I got re­trenched, it was the low­est point of my life. I was used to draw­ing a salary every end month. I had bills to pay and a fam­ily to take care of. I couldn’t ima­gine how life would be. But I had to think fast,” said Fle­ciah.

RE­LATED ART­ICLE: Mixed farm­ing earns ag­ri­pren­eur double cash

Fle­ciah who draws in­spir­a­tion from her hus­band who she says has given her the free­dom to ex­per­i­ment with any­thing on their farm has per­fec­ted the art of mixed farm­ing which en­sures there are no dry days for her and the fam­ily. When she is plant­ing maize for ex­ample, ba­na­nas and cab­bages are up for har­vest and sale. Her cows also sup­ple­ment her in­come with daily earn­ings.

Aware that Kenyan women make 80 per­cent of all farm­ers in the coun­try yet chal­lenges like own­er­ship of land and ac­cess to fin­ances means that they never get to enjoy the fruits of their la­bour, Fle­ciah set to em­power fel­low women farm­ers.

Fle­ciah is the chair­per­son of Karinga Farm­ers Group with 60 act­ive mem­bers which teaches farm­ers ag­ri­cul­tural best prac­tices like low cost pest con­trol meth­ods, max­im­iz­ing on land use and point­ing the farm­ers to ready and well-pay­ing mar­kets.

RE­LATED ART­ICLE: Nyamira youth earn­ing Sh1.25m a year from mixed farm­ing

Ba­nana, which en­joys huge local and across the coun­try de­mand, has been the farmer group’s flag­ship pro­duce and which Fle­ciah hails for hav­ing changed the lives of many farm­ers in Kir­inyaga.

“Train­ing hap­pens in my farm and it has been of be­ne­fit to many farm­ers here es­pe­cially in spur­ring them to move to farm­ing as busi­ness. Already very many have and the de­mand for ba­na­nas es­pe­cially from Nairobi is so high that we can­not meet it,” added Fle­ciah.

With a re­solve to get more people es­pe­cially women to start mak­ing money out of ag­ri­cul­ture Fle­ciah has been en­cour­aged women to think smart es­pe­cially on the chal­lenges of ac­cess­ing credit fa­cil­it­ies.

“Al­though women say it is hard to ac­cess loans be­cause they have no se­cur­ity since the title be­long to the hus­band, these days if you are con­sist­ent in your farm­ing, you can use your har­vest as se­cur­ity. Take the ex­ample of milk, if you sup­ply milk daily to re­cog­nized milk buy­ers like the New KCC that is enough col­lat­eral,” she said.

RE­LATED ART­ICLE: Mixed farm­ing im­mune farmer from severe losses

Such an­im­ated ap­proach to farm­ing saw her crowned best woman farmer in Kenya and awar­ded a trophy by the pres­id­ent. This, she says is a noble ges­ture that has in­spired many who have lost hope.

“See­ing the pres­id­ent’s ex­cite­ment at hear­ing what I do and how I sur­vived through the re­trench­ment, I got more zeal to sup­port our people to go back to farm­ing be­cause it is a busi­ness that will never die. People will al­ways need food. And while pop­u­la­tion is grow­ing, food pro­du­cers are shrink­ing,” she said.

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