Moses Githaiga is a garlic farmer in Kiawara, a hamlet in Kieni Sub County, about 35 kilometres from Nyeri town. After a successful experiment in 2012, the 34 years old today cultivates the crop on a 10-acre piece of land and harvests up to 4,800 kilos of garlic.
“I have been farming garlic for now seven years. Kieni is considerably hot and dry and has black cotton soil, conditions which favour tolerant crops such as onions. In fact most farmers in the area grow onions,” he says
Contrary to other farmers, he chose to grow garlic for bulb and seeds.
“I chose garlic due to its higher returns. A single garlic can yield up to eight plants, usually from its cloves. I started farming garlic in 2012 on a quarter acre farm. I planted 25 kilos of the onions and harvested 800 kilos. I sold the produce at Sh100 a kilo, earning Sh80,000 that season. Last season I earned Sh4.8 million from 13 acres. But now I vary my planting to supply my customers all year round,” says the proprietor of Saumu Centre Limited.
Githaiga ferries the produce to Nairobi himself but some clients buy the onions in large scale from the farm. On average, a kilo of garlic goes for Sh180 while garlic seeds fetch Sh450 for a similar quantity.
Earlier on Githaiga lived a squalid life as a hawker, and sharpening knives in Nyalenda and Manyatta slums in Kisumu. However, the idea of venturing into farming kept nagging his mind. Once in a while after his hawking business, the secondary School leaver would camp in a cybercafé to research on garlics; how to grow them and their demand in the market.
He says, “From my research I realised there was a huge demand for the onion variety. In fact most of the garlic onions that were available in our markets were imported from China.”