In 2013 after working as a clerk at a Nairobi based company for 14 years, Alex Mbugua was unceremoniously dismissed from his job without notice. The shock made him realize he needed a side hustle to supplement his income making him turn to mixed farming on his idle one acre of land in Nakuru.
Even though he secured a job as a long truck driver in which he earns Sh50,000 monthly one year later he felt he needed more than one source of income as an alternative.
“I ventured into farming after realizing that in employment you can be sacked any minute with no valid reason and that would expose your pocket to shocks,” said Mbugua.
Mbugua grows short season crops such as cabbages, kales, spinach and tomatoes in equal portions in the land he bought at Sh600,000 from his savings. He practices crop rotation every three months to reduce chances of disease and pest attack.
“In my first season in 2015 I suffered a loss of Sh50,000 as I was a new farmer, I did not know where to sell and how to source for markets for my produce, however, that did not deter me, I learnt my lesson and focused ahead,” he said.
“In my second season, I talked to other farmers who urged me to sell the crops directly at the market instead of waiting for buyers to come to the farm, since then I have never looked back, as I sell to wholesalers”.
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In the 2018/19 season he has planted cabbages, tomatoes, kales and spinach. Mbugua harvests 10 to 15 sacks of kales & spinach, per week and 10 crates of tomatoes for which he has ready buyers.
“The prices for the produce vary from time to time depending on demand and supply,” said Mbugua.
In a season he earns between Sh30,000 to Sh50,000 in profits.
According to the 2019 Economic Survey Report, earnings from exports of horticulture produce increased by 33.3 per cent from Sh115.3bn in 2017 to Sh153.7bn in 2018. In this, the value of vegetable exports increased by 14.9 per cent from Sh24.1bn to Sh27.7bn in 2018.
Mbugua can be reached on 0722 631 850.