In 2018, Pr. Evans Nyakwara uprooted all his eucalyptus trees after growing them for 14 years to venture into mixed farming practicing dairy farming, vegetable production and chicken farming in a quarter acre piece of land. The endeavor has made his farm a model for farmers in Nyamira as other farmers visit the farm to learn.
On 12th June 2019 for instance, more than 250 farmers will hold a farmers’ field day at his farm in Bonyengwe sub location, Magwagwa ward.
“After attending various agricultural educative forums in my area, I met other farmers who advised me to ditch blue gum farming for mixed farming, considering that I had not yet earned anything from the trees, I decided to try my luck,” said Nyakwara.
Eucalyptus trees interfere with water sources by absorbing a lot of water making the land dry. The County government of Nyamira through the Environment Bill 2019 has already ordered farmers to remove all the trees near water sources.
At first to him it was extremely unbelievable as he wouldn’t figure out how his small farm could accommodate more than one project at ago but he took a risk that’s now worth it.
“I started with an initial capital investment of Sh59,000, currently I have two Friesian cows, four mature goats, five goat kids, ten hens and a secondary vegetable farm for kales, spinach , pumpkin leaves and water harvesting dam for irrigating my farm,” he said.
He bought vegetable seedlings at Sh100 and obtained others from friends for free. In this, he planted the vegetables in sacks at a section of his farm. He has 10 vertical bags with drip irrigation kit provided by REALIPM Company, three with spinach and pumpkins have been planted along the banks of the sacks.
By the end of 2018 he had earned Sh50,000 from vegetable sales which he spent half on buying pesticides, food for the chicken and dairy meals for cows.
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Pr. Nyakwara sells his products locally at the nearest local market as well as at home to customers within the neighborhood. He also sells eight to 15 liters of milk a day to neighbors and local hotels with a liter of milk retailing at Sh60.
“I have practiced farming for the last one year now but the results have been tremendous. I have paid school fees for my kids both in high school and campus one thing I have for years struggled to do as a parent. I have accomplished most of my difficult tasks and seeing my kids through to university has given me so much joy” said Nyakwara.
During his training, he received a donation of a money maker water pump by World Vision which helps him in irrigating his farm during the dry seasons. Despite his commitment to farming, the soil around the area is sandy which makes it difficult to hold water for long. This hasn’t deterred him form farming either way, with the help of the pump, water supply in his farm is constant.
While planting the vegetables, he mixes the soil and manure from the goats and chicken waste which he then puts in the sacks as he plants the vegetables.
“The vegetables have been my biggest backbone, I sell them on small scale but in the little sales, I have food for my family as well as buy pesticides the vegetables, chicken food and Napier and other feeds for the cattle and goats. I’m yet to make sales from the eggs which I want them to hatch before I start selling the eggs. I have also sold ten young cocks at Sh550 each, am hopeful that I will make more sales as well” he said.
Besides the good yields, Pr. Nyakwara has had other challenges on the farm. He has to constantly pump water to have enough supply in the farm. The pump is heavy which requires a lot of energy. Also, due to the limited space he has to constantly feed the animals in the pen which would have been easier if the animals would have had some space to feed on themselves.
Due to the limited space, Nyakwara is limited on the number to chicken he rears, with only 65 chicks hatched, he has been forced to use one of his kids room to keep them. Chicken theft has also been one of the challenges which force him to lock them up every time.
Also, he hasn’t been able to make any sale on the goat kids in the past season which makes him dig deeper in the pockets to buy the feeds. He looks forward to the coming harvest season which might have a potential sales lead. The goat kids go at Sh6500 each.
Mr. Nyakwara looks forward to own a green house in the future, he wants to expand his farming as well as managing crops in green house is easier than open field where they are vulnerable to harsh climate conditions especially the hail storms. He also projects expanding his product market to big dairy firms and regional markets.