Father of hydroponics rakes fortunes with mixed farming

Behind a poultry shed hosting over 300 chicken, a pig sty with over 70 pigs, dairy cows, and swathes of land under strawberry and fish farming, is a story of a retrenched civil servant who found hope in farming and is now a model farmer and trainer on new fodder production with his customers and clients stretching to India, Rwanda, South Sudan among others.

It is a mixed farming model which has insulated him from market vagaries ensuring that he is earning year round from his various farming practices. Titus Mwema who was retrenched when government was reforming its public service sector to tame the ballooning wage bill, viewed that as his end. Yet a visit to the internet would later open doors to a booming career in farming where he has emerged not just as a model farmer but a trainer in a new age fodder production that has become a hit among farmers, dubbed hydroponics.

The search for an answer to how to maintain his pigs took him to the internet world. “I wondered how farmers in arid and semi-arid parts of the world like Australia were feeding their animals. Out of curiosity, I searched fodder in Australia and that is where I scrambled on the hydroponic fodder,” noted Mwema. Little did Mwema know that hydroponic fodder technology would be his breakthrough in life. He added, “The tutorials I got from the internet were of automatic ways to raise the fodder but I adapted the same using manual means and was very lucky to come up with a commendable end product.” After several months of trials, Mwema was now fully satisfied with the skills and knowledge on how to handle the technology. “I use barley seeds and a few chemicals which I put under controlled conditions to come up with the end product,” he added. After witnessing the success of his relentless efforts, he decided to take a bolder move by enriching other farmers with the new skills he acquired on hydroponic fodder.

The technique was a God sent gift to the farmer as it not only provided a solution for feeding the pigs but also enabled him to venture into dairy and poultry farming. In addition, the technique also proved to be a vital source of revenue for the farmer as he charges about Sh1000 for those farmers who want to learn how to grow hydroponic fodder which is not only more nutritious but also grows fast in a period of about 7 days. In adition, he opened a small shop which stocked the inputs needed for hydroponic fodder like barley and some chemicals solutions. “Many farmers seek this technology and I have clientele who come as far as from Rwanda and Uganda. They pay me Sh1000 for the training and demonstration and in a day I receive over 5 farmers in such for the skills,” noted Mwema.

He explained that the money the participants pay to him also sum up as membership to the Hotel and Training Center which he building on his farm. My farm will be a one stop center for farmers in search of knowledge and I will invite various lecturers with agriculture based knowledge to educate the farmers every weekend on new trending issues in global agriculture.

Mwema has managed to take advantage of the technique and used it to diversify his investment in agriculture to include piggery, dairy farming, sheep and local chicken. Mwema noted, “As a farmer, I have learnt that for one to succeed he should diversify to cushion himself against the unforeseen risks involved in the various farming practices.” He also stressed that this is one of the major pillars that he advises all the farmers who visit his farm for training because it is very easy to adopt it with a reliable supply of feeds thanks to hydroponic fodder.

Mwema walks the talk in the diversification campaign as he boasts of over 5 dairy cows, over 200 herds of sheep, over 70 pigs, 300 local chicken, one acre of land under strawberry and fish pond which also doubles as water reservoir for his nappier grass. In addition, Mwema now owns a near complete resort hotel which will be hosting farmers on training sessions. “Farmers who visit me especially for hydroponic fodder training will always have a chance to relax in that hotel which will be offering training services to farmers on the new farming methods and ideas on global markets in order to enable us compete with European and Asian farmers,” explained Titus Mwema who many farmers now emulate because of his immense success.

The success that Mwema has registered through diversification of farming can only be appreciated by one who gets an opportunity to visit the farm. He smiled about his achievements and noted that he now thanks his employer who retrenched him. “I no longer regret losing my job because the success I have achieved would not be possible if I was still in formal employment,” noted Mwema.