A decision to quit a well paying marketing officer job with an insurance firm to concentrate on farming is the best decision Constance Akiso made, with his quarter of an acre vegetable farm now earning her up to Sh50, 000 every week.
But even as her friends thought it was a bad and wild decision to resign and concentrate on farming, Constance knew that her heart and passion was in farming. “I took a lot of my time when I was still employed to acquaint myself with matters agriculture and farming. I researched heavily before deciding on settling on vegetable farming. I am so happy it is the best decision I ever made,” Constance said.
She decided to zero in on tomatoes and capsicum which seemed to have worked to her advantage. She leased a quarter of an acre land in Rongai and put up two greenhouses. She has so far invested Sh600,000 in the farm which has been from her savings and a bank loan. “I owe the success of my farm to the fact that I have a well laid out farming plan which majority of those who get into agriculture totally misses the point. I prepared the market for my produce before I could harvest. That is where most of the farmers who get into agribusiness get it wrong. You need to get into this business knowing where the market is,” she said. Constance who has already registered her business as Conbel Fresh Produce enjoys a good market for her produce even to upmarket malls in Nairobi.
She harvests approximately 200 kilos of capsicum and 500 kilos of tomatoes each week which on average earns her Sh50, 000. But the fresh produce which are water guzzlers require constant supply of water, a problem she struggles with since she doesn’t have a borehole and she has to rely on the erratic supplies from Nairobi Water. She also hires a pick up for transportation of her produce to various markets since she doesn’t have a car.
“It therefore means that I have to be extremely careful with the numbers if my business is to remain as thriving. These are the things anyone keen on farming as business should be sensitive about. Again this kind of farming requires constant monitoring and it is hard to do it part time. That is why I quit my job,” she added.
Constance farm is a model that has been hailed as key to feeding growing populations while turning Africa’s smallholder farmers into income earners from agriculture.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, FAO, food production especially in Africa now calls for optimizing small pieces of land to produce more. The organization argues that modern and smallholder driven farming innovations are key in maintaining consistent food production and protecting the continent against food supply dips that the organization says will be occasioned by changes in weather.
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