Evelyn Wangari, a mixed farmer at Kitengela holding one of her fully grown chicken. She uses YouTube to sell her produce and share farming tips with other farmers. Photo courtesy.
In 2016 after Nakumatt, a Kenyan supermarket chain stopped buying Evelyn Wangari Kuria’s English cucumbers due to the sorry state of the retail chain, the graduate-farmer discovered the potential of YouTube through which she is now able to sell her farm produce and train other growers.
Wangari started growing green pepper, English cucumbers and tomatoes in 2015 within a half an acre piece of land at Kitengela in Kajiado County. She then secured the Nakumatt market through Fresh An Juici Ltd where she would supply 100kgs of cucumbers a week selling at Sh102-90 a kilo to earn up to Sh10,200.
The rest of the produce she would sell to local consumers but at the end of 2016 the retail chain would stop buying her cucumbers leaving her to look for alternative markets hence affected her production.
“The loss of Nakumatt made it hard for me to continue mass producing. I like omitting brokers by gauging the market first and grow steadily. However, I had to think fast and look for new buyer,” said Bachelor’s degree in Sociology, Political Science and Communication graduate from the University of Nairobi and Master’s Degree in Business Administration in Strategic Management graduate from United States International University – Africa.
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She therefore stopped growing the English cucumbers and started focusing on vegetables, tomatoes and cauliflowers which she sells at schools, hotels and a church at Kitengela but the challenge comes when the schools are closed reducing her market reach.
She harvests 50 packs of vegetables per week and sell to schools and local markets at Sh150 each and five crates of tomatoes which she sells to local hotels at Sh2,500 per create translating to Sh20,000 per week which is double what she earned supplying cucumbers to Nakumatt.
However, to increase her network and customer base the farmer has opened a YouTube channel to share basic farming tips for urban dwellers who sometimes feel they cannot be part of food production by virtue of being in town.
“I also started this channel to encourage proper nutrition as food can be medicine but it can also be poison if crops are not grown properly. I therefore share tips on how to grow, not just plants but high value crops with high commercial benefits,” said Wangari.
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In addition, she encourages potted plants projects, homemade pesticides and composting manure for farm use instead of depending on synthetic fertiliser and chemicals that she says has negative effects on crops and the environment.
She started the channel after attending a conference where she met an experienced digital Mindshift influencer in Kenya who taught her how to do short videos and share on YouTube.
“The channel did not cost me anything to sign in. Then with the help of an IT friend who helped me further with a few basics of shooting a video and which apps to download to use for editing, I started shooting with my infinix phone which I realised had a good camera,” she Wangari.
Today she can go to the field and with the help of a friend take some videos which she would settle down in the evening to edit using her home Wi-Fi before sharing with her over YouTube fans.
Though she has not started earning from the channel, she gets more inquiries of her farm produce via the channel comments besides using it to promote mentorship by developing on gardening concepts during community based project events.
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At personal level, Wangari say she has been able to achieve in improving her nutrition and that of her family, “My life is more balanced as I am able to grow my own healthy food and further influence my community which is making better nutritional decisions.”
She also rears indigenous (kienyeji) chicken that she sells at Sh1,300 per chicken at kitengela besides button and oyster mushrooms, broccoli and lettuce.
She can no longer remember the Sh200,000 monthly salary she used to earn in corporate world working at a senior management position in a real estate firm before retrenchment in December 2016.
“I now have less stress. Corporate makes one power-hungry and one keeps going turning into a person less desirable. I therefore decided to prioritise my mental health and relationships too,” said Wangari.
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She now partners with other agricultural companies for farmers’ mentorship programs whereby she offers free training for sponsored events and charge Sh2500 an hour as a consultant.