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Young agronomist helping beginners navigate farming

james Nduati agronomist

A young but seasoned agronomist is rescuing many employed youths whose plight of embracing agribusiness as an extra income generating activity has seen their investment turn into white elephant projects.

In the past five years, agribusiness has been glorified with many agro input firms fronting new innovations and high yielding seed varieties. Peter Kabue the proprietor of Kaka Sungura Farm that is offering farm management services to busy part time farmers noted that many factors have contributed to the growing trend.

“The splashing of sweet success stories by media and increased persuasion from banks to offer agribusiness loans has motivated many working class population especially the youth to join the bandwagon effect of farming,” explained Kabue. Due to the fact that these people are faced with limited time, Kabue observed that a number of them resort to telephone farming techniques leaving their investments in the hands of inexperienced and impassionate shamba boys. The outcome of this arrangement has been complete failure with many farmers counting losses.

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A perfect example of this scenario is Maina Muchiri a farmer from central Kenya who borrowed a Sh200,000 loan from a bank and invested it into rice and tomato farming. Since he was committed to a fulltime job in Nairobi, he enlisted the service of a Shamba boy who briefed him through mobile phone. After six months, Maina managed to only recoup Sh13000 from his Sh70,000 tomato investment and almost zero returns from the rice investment.    

It is this trend of events that motivated Kabue to begin offering specialized farm management service. Under the organization of Kaka Sungura Farm, Kabue is now helping more ‘corporate farmers’ into agribusiness ventures. The idea is to help these people realize a return on their investments and ultimately prepare them for long-term agribusiness investments through the experience knowledge they gather from Kaka Sungura farm managers.  

The team employs professionalism in the management process and takes the farmer through the whole farming process. Once we enter into a contract with a farmer, we give a detailed report on the feasibility of the crop in the area, the soil testing analysis, market report on the crop and timing. The farmer is then given a budget with a work plan which is aimed at helping him budget for the venture.

For instance Kaka Sungura Farm team budget for a one acre water melon ranges from Sh80,000 to120,000 depending on the location. This cost covers all the inputs and the management until the crops mature for harvesting. According to Kabue this is commercially feasible given that the returns per acre ranges between 20-25 tonnes with farm gate price of a kilo at Sh30. After successful experiments in Kitengela early last year, the team is now offering management services to over five farmers.

Two of their clients are outside Kenya with one running a successful 3 acre water melon project in Mwingi. The clients are based in UAE and Germany respectively but have constant monitoring of the projects through reports and briefing from the team and their contact persons in the country.

Another beneficiary of this initiative is Gerogina after being disappointed through several care takers in the village for her investment has hired the services of Kaka Sungura team. She met the team through referrals and is now doing a 2 acre farming of onions in Ngoliba.

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According to Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) report in 2013 titled the role of the farm management specialist in extension, farm management extension is ideal for realization of growth in the agricultural sector as it empowers farmers with management strategies and skills for improved decision-making in the use of resources and linking farmers to markets. This is in line with what Kabue is offering to farmers. “With the increasing market-orientation of farming, the decisions taken by farmers are more complex; for farms to compete they must be run as a business. This creates a demand for specialized extension support. To be successful farmers need the skills to produce what the market wants and what satisfies consumers,” added the report.

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