Vegetable farming brings hope into the life of a computer engineer in Nairobi
Joseph Kiarie owns Thiboro farm in Dagoretti constituency – Nairobi County. He shares with Our writer Malachi Motano on how he makes profit from the varieties of vegetables he grow, having ventured into different kinds of farming in a question and answer (Q and A) Interview.
Q: Thank you for having me in your farm what do you grow here?
A: Basically we do mixed farming where we grow almost all sought of crops for example Lettuce, Broccoli, Cucumber, cabbage just to mention but a few.
Q: When did you start this kind of farming?
A: I have been doing this for quite a while now. This has been a family farm that was inherited by my father from my grand and now it is y turn. I used to do it when I was young but after completing high school and college, I took it up seriously.
Q: Why vegetables and not cereals like maize?
A: There was like ready market for it . Being surrounded by the city we have markets all over. We sell our produce in Karen, Yaya centre, Westland and the big super markets. The market is available. Actually this is what my family has been doing ever since.
Q: Why did you decide to do vegetables and not cereals like maize
A: After college I looked for employment in vain. I had studied computer programming but the work was not easily coming and while in the waiting process, I came back to the farm and my first crop gave me a good return (profit) that really encouraged me.
Q: How do you rate the venture, do you really make money from the Broccoli, Cucumber and other vegetables you grow, I mean is it a good venture?
A: Actually the market is not very constant. It is hard to tell how much we sale daily because it depends on demand and supply. When it comes to production, we have to look at the production cost before we decide on the selling price at least to get some profit.
Q: Describe the market share from when you went commercial?
A: Well, the market is here but sometimes it is seasonal like when tourists are not coming in, the demand is not high because some of the vegetable are consumed mostly by tourists and sold at the high end market. Normally we sell them at the high ends, malls and even hotels like Javan as we send some to the hotels and restaurants at the coast.
Q: Describe the condition for growth in terms of temperature, climate and the environment.Can you grow the vegetables you have anywhere or is there a specific temperature or climate for them?
A: It can grow in all weather conditions, I mean can be cool and also wet. If t is sunny, you have to water your vegetables and make the environment conducive for the them.
Q: What are some of the risks that are associated with growing the plants like Broccoli and how do you address them?
A: There are normally crop diseases. We also have mist that make them sometime to have leafy spot. One must know the right pesticide to use. We also have field extension officers who visit our farms and also do education to that effect.
Q: How much of your time does growing the vegetable require you to spend in the farm?
A: Once you have a good supervision, and knowing exactly what should be done, you can look for a side hustle. In other words, you don’t have to be be in the farm throughout even though it is good a times to supervise your workers.
Q: Where do you get your seeds?
A: We normally get the seeds from the aggro-vets. There are seed certified shops that are recommended to us by filed officers. You must make sure you use the right seeds.
Q: How long does it take the vegetables to grow from the first day in the nursery to the shamba until it becomes ready?
A: Most of them have different maturity periods like soft Letuce which grows first takes 30 days after being transplanted while hard Letuce will take 45 days. Plants like Brocoli and curly flower take up to 75 days.
Q: Do you also do irrigation and if yes how?
A:Yes, here we do drip irrigation where we use sprinklers. We have a system whereby we push water from the reservoir and pump it directly to the farm. The advantage here is that we have a stream flowing around here and there is also a wetland
Q: You earlier talked about the soil. How is it important when it comes to planting or growing the crop
A: Soil is is very important and one needs to now components in the soil which the plant will need. Normally we take samples to the laboratory for testing.
Q: Talk about manure
A: Yes,for the other method which is the natural type. You do not need artificial fertilizer, you can use compost or organic manure since there are all those types of farming.
Q: Supposing I am a small scale farmer who do not have alot of that knowledge, how would you advise even as we conclude?
A: I would ask you to get advise from people who have done it before. For everything you are starting or doing, there must always be someone who must have done it earlier
Q: Finally as we wind, anything that you can say to prove that this farming type is viable and very possible?
A: From my own experience, it is a profitable venture if you do it the right way using right tools.