In 2018, 58-year-old Yohan Kim, a South Korean missionary, travelled to Kenya to preach the gospel but in the process, started the farm that grows Asian foods. They also farm other crops that include net melons and watermelon, fig trees and three varieties of chillies – the mild, hot and sweet.

Yohan Kim, a South Korean missionary displays some of the Asian crops on a farm at AIC Mission college at Kapsoya, Uasin Gishu County. He farms a number of crops such as Korean Cabbage, Korean radish, garlic chives, korean strawberries, chillies, dragon fruits and other crops. photo by Stanley Kimuge

The theologian noted that he was motivated to venture into Asian vegetables in 2019 due to the growing demand for the produce in the region. Initially, they started on a quarter acre piece of land but have since expanded to four-acres.

That gave birth to Grace Farm at AIC Mission College at Kapsoya on the outskirts of Eldoret town, Uasin Gishu County.

On a cursory look, it is lush and green but this is not your usual farm. Here, the farm specialises in growing Asian crops from Korean strawberry (Maehyang), garlic chives, Korean cabbage, Korean radish, Indian Pak Choi, Italian spinach, leek onions, dragon fruit, Red-leaf lettuce (Lactuca sativa), Korean Perilla leaf vegetable and other herbs.

According to Rodgers Kirwa (Mr. Agriculture on Social Media), he claims the farm to be an amazing farm with great mission as the name suggests, he goes ahead to state that the farms mission is to reach more people through farming and to impact and equip(training) the community to be self reliant through farming activities.

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With white T-Shirt: Rodgers Kirwa AKA Mr. Agriculture with Benson Koech

Disease-free soils

Inside the four-acre farm, there are four greenhouses. In two of them, it acts as a nursery while in another, they have planted dragon fruits, while in a separate greenhouse, they dry the produce such as chillies on trays.

To grow the crops, they first source disease-free soils from the forests. Inside one of the greenhouses, they propagate the seeds in the nursery trade pots to curb wastage.

They regularly sprinkle with water and after four days, they sprout. It takes two to three weeks where they regularly water the seedlings to be ready for transplanting in several well-arranged seed-beds.

According to the farm manager, most of the Asian crops take between two and three months to mature. At the farm, they propagate the seeds at different stages to ensure that they have constant supply of the produce in the market.

“Most Asians consume our crops but right now, more Africans are liking these vegetables. We are seeing the demand going up,” says the farm manager.

Most of the produce end up in markets in Eldoret town but hopes to reach new markets such as the Kisumu, Kakamega, Nakuru and neighbouring country, Uganda.

Unique crops

A kilogramme of garlic chives goes for KsSh50 while the Korean cabbages retails for between KShs80 in the market. In a good month, they sell up to 40 to 50 kilogrammes of garlic chives.

“The cabbage can be eaten as salad or cooked. Unlike the local cabbage varieties, one can weigh between one kilogram to five kilos,”

Today, the missionary is also passionately involved in spreading the gospel of growing these unique crops. The farm serves as a demonstration farm where farmers, especially the young people within the community, are taught modern technologies.

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In the farm, they use overhead irrigation to ensure constant production of the crops all-year round. They source water from three boreholes where they harvest during the rainy season then pump to tanks.

Some of the challenges they face include water scarcity, pests and diseases such as cut-worms, aphids and snails during the rainy season. In the farm, they organically control these pests. For instance, they grind the Tithonia plant, chilies and salt then spray the crops.

They also practice soil rotation to reduce soil-borne diseases. For instance, they plant and replace crop from different family.

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