Ex-Egerton University students turning farming to jobs

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Three former Egerton University students have tripled their one acre farm land of Irish potatoes proving that farming can be a full-time employment after graduation.  

Alex Ogeto, Rodgers Kirwa and Mike Mugendi delved into farming in Nakuru County’s Molo region by renting one acre, on which they grew Irish potatoes in 2014.

Stable income

Besides reducing dependence on parents, they were setting a foundation to prove that agriculture can be a stable source of income after university.

“The reason we started this project was to show there is clean money in the ‘dirty’ farming. Indeed after starting with an initial investment of Sh50,000, we have moved on to three acres within two years,” he said.

Renting an acre cost them Sh1,0000. After their first harvest of 80 50kg sacks, they earned a net profit of Sh110,000. They sold the Irish potatoes to middlemen at Sh2000.

“After deducting cash to meet our personal needs, we re-invested the remainder following season. We have been doing so all along, and that is how we arrived at the three acres we are cultivating today,” he said.

Farming scholars

Ogeto and Kirwa have completed coursework and they are looking forward to graduating this year with degrees in Agricultural Management. Their colleague Mugendi has graduated with Agricultural Economics.

In 2015, they managed three harvests. But this year’s weather has been unfavourable, more-so in January. They anticipate harvesting the first Irish potatoes this year by the end of June.

Frost is the main challenge they are facing in the shamba. Middlemen are their other hurdle in marketing because they are yet to master the trade with their limited resources and network. 

“As the business expands, we intend to buy our vehicle to ferry the produce to Nairobi, Mombasa or any other town where we know there is market. This will save us more money as we eliminate middlemen from the distribution chain,” Ogeto said.

Game changer team

The young agripreneurs are behind the viral hashtag #agribusinesstalk254, which has taken Twitter and other social media platforms by storm and has been trending for a quite a while now. In the long run, the three agripreneurs aspire to increase food production and end unemployment through agriculture.

Now that they are no longer at university, they hope full-time farming would save them Sh1m in five years for establishment of a demonstration farm for educating farmers. 

Experience

Unlike extension officers, who may have farming knowledge alone, Ogeto said, their experience will complement their scholarly skills in offering practical solution to unemployment and hunger.

 That is the idea behind the @iAgriBizAfrica and #agribusinesstalk254 campaigns which can be found on the social media platform, Twitter.