In a move that has seen him ahead of most farmers in the area, Peter Muga, a small scale farmer owning a quarter piece of plot in Njoro-Nakuru County in 2016 changed from just farming to provide basic needs to his family to produce high valued chia seeds which now earns him Sh150,000 a season.
Like other farmers in the Rift Valley region, Muga used to intercrop maize and beans and he could spend up to Sh7,000 on-farm inputs excluding labour costs only to harvest four bags of maize of 90kg and a bag of beans of 50kg. To him, this was discouraging.
“My target was to grow enough to feed my family and use the surplus for profit making. Unfortunately, what I got we could not survive on up to the next season leave alone using some for trading,” said Muga.
However, things changed in 2016 when he visited Wambugu Farm in Nyeri during a farmers’ field day where he learn about chia production. It was a totally new crop to him though its returns as per the training were inviting and he decided to give it a try.
He, therefore, bought a kilo of chia seeds at Sh1,000 then. These, after preparing his land he planted and after four months the result turned out to be quite promising.
“The plant is grown organically and is resistant to pests and farmers do not have to use pesticides like is with other crops,” said Muga.
Since then he has never looked back. Within his piece of the plot he harvests up to 50 kilos of chia seeds per season which he sells at Sh3,000 per kilo translating to Sh150,000 per kilo. He says the demand is high always due to the seeds’ high nutrition value.
“Chia is one of the most nutritious foods you will ever come across. It is rich in proteins, Omega 3 fats and a dozen other nutrients that include calcium, manganese, and phosphorus,” said Muga.
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The seeds do well in managing several diseases such as diabetes, arthritis, chronic constipation, high blood pleasure, cleansing blood (anti-oxidant) and invigorating the nerves.
To speed up his sales, the farmer packages the seeds in smaller packs of 250g which he sells at Sh500 each to those who want to buy in smaller quantities.
Apart from traders who come to the farm to buy in bulk, Muga also attends farmers’ events such as field days and agricultural shows in the country to sell his produce.