Behind the half an acre farm that sits next to Thika River, housing two fish ponds, a poultry pen and a dairy unit is the success of family farming as one family perfects the specialization role in agribusiness.
Since buying the half acre piece of land after he retired as a technician from the Ministry of Transport, Mr. Kenneth Macharia has managed to introduce his wife and three children to farming, a venture that has now metamorphosed into a money minting entreprise.
Each member of the family is responsible for a particular aspect of farming and is tasked with doing everything they can to ensure good farm management practices and bringing profit to their business units.
In one corner of the farm are the two fish ponds which has both catfish and ornamental fish.
Maureen Nyambura, one of Macharia's daughters, handles the fish business. She juggles between fish farming and her education as a third year film student at Kenyatta University.
According to Maureen the initial investment by her father into the fish business was 1.000 tilapia and catfish. But as the business grew, they decided to diversify into ornamental fish and the making of aquariums. It is a business that has blossomed and now earns the family a profit of Sh1000 each month.
The fish farm mainly comprises two fish ponds that host catfish and various species of ornamental fish.
For the cat fish, a kilo goes for Sh200 while the ornamental fish are sold depending on inch.
The business of making aquariums has also picked up for them, with the aquariums ranging between Sh35,000 and Sh40,000 depending on the designs. “This is the latest business venture which I have played a key role in introducing. We have added two more employees to help us in making them and have so far sold over 35 indoor and outdoor aquariums. This is where we get money for our pocket money and school fees,” said Nyambura.
Margaret, Macharia's wife, handles the poultry business that has over 3000 chickens mostly of the Kuroiler breed. She works closely with his first born son Kevin Macharia, who is in his fourth year at Kenyatta University studying Environmental Science. Having reared indigenious chicken that Margaret learnt about from the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), she learnt about the superior breed of chicken from Uganda known as Kuroiler and invested Sh200,000 to buy them. From an initial purchase of 50 chickens she has now expanded to 3,000.Each day she collects 10 crates which she supplies to shops in Thika Town. Kevin has also introduced an egg incubators that has a capacity to hold 3000 eggs.
Kenneth as the owner of the house, has his eyes on dairy farming, rearing 19 dairy cows which cummulatively produces 100 litres of milk daily. 70 litres of the milk is supplied to the family shop in Thika which is used to make yoghurt while the rest is sold to retailers at Sh50 a litre bringing Sh70,000 in profit each month.
“Family farming has been very key in indoctrinating my children into the farming life. I want them to know that there is money in agriculture and they can always look up to farming even as they embrace white collar jobs. It has been great seeing the three of them actively engage in farming,” said Macharia. Diana Wambui the last born in the family and who is in secondary school asssits whenever she is needed across the three ventures.
As the head of the house, Macharia is responsible for finances while his wife tackles farm logistics like ensuring feeds are always available and the animals are vaccinated in time.
Macharia's farm, known as Blue Sky Farm, is a model that the United Nations has described as key in addressing food security challenges of the 21 century. According to a recent survey by the body, family farms constitute 90 per cent of all farm holdings,in a survey that was conducted in 93 countries.
This saw the United Nations declare 2014 as the International Year of Family Farming, to lay emphasize on the over 500 million family farms globally and their role in eradicating hunger and preserving natural resources.
The UN defines a family farm as one that relies predominantly on members of the family for labour and management. According to the report, family farms form up to 80 per cent of all farm holdings in developing countries especially in Africa.
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