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Mixed farming shields Migori farmer from severe losses

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Hor­ti­cul­ture farmer weed­ing his cab­bage crops. Mixed farm­ing cush­ions farm­ers from sud­den drastic weather or mar­ket changes. Photo: nm­corp­kenya

As other grow­ers in Migori County were thrown into hope­less and un­cer­tainty after to­bacco buy­ing com­pany – Al­li­ance One Lim­ited- shif­ted its focus to other mar­kets last year, mixed farm­ing cush­ioned Gil­bert Boke from the sud­den shock.

Boke has been a to­bacco farmer since 2012, but from 2015, he de­cided to in­cor­por­ate hor­ti­cul­tural farm­ing to di­ver­sify on in­come as the to­bacco mar­ket turned tur­bu­lent.

“I star­ted grow­ing ve­get­ables and to­ma­toes be­cause our to­bacco pro­duce could over­stay in store be­fore col­lec­tion and some­times pay­ments delayed,” said Boke.

In­deed, his pre­dic­a­tion came through in May 2016 when Al­li­ance One Lim­ited ex­ited Kenyan mar­ket to Uganda and Zi­m­b­abwe, cit­ing low leaf qual­ity in the coun­try.

This left more than 10,000 farm­ers in his home county stran­ded with their pro­duce.

At that time Boke had half an acre on to­bacco and the rest of his four acre land on cab­bages, to­ma­toes, spring onions and in­di­gen­ous ve­get­ables.

To him the exit of the to­bacco firm was more of a re­lief. He des­troyed the four struc­tures where he dried the to­bacco leaves after selling everything out. He real­ised Sh5000, which he used to ex­pand his hor­ti­cul­ture farm.

“After des­troy­ing my two to­bacco stores and two dry­ing cham­bers, I sold ma­ter­i­als to scrape ma­ter­ial brokers, added some money and in­ves­ted all in ve­get­able and to­mato farm,” said Boke.

In total Boke used close to Sh70, 000 to beef up his hor­ti­cul­tural farm­ing.

He di­vided his four acres into four sec­tions. Cab­bages and to­ma­toes in one and half acres each. Then spring onions and in­di­gen­ous ve­get­ables on half an acre each.

“With cer­ti­fied in­puts, con­sulta­tion from ag­ri­cul­tural ex­ten­sion of­ficers as well as vis­it­ing demon­stra­tion farms and ag­ri­cul­tural shows, I have wit­nessed good har­vest,” he said.

In 75 days after plant­ing Boke would start har­vest­ing his Gloria F1 cab­bage. His one and half acre car­ries more than 2, 000 cab­bages, which he will har­vest in three phases. The main mar­ket for his cab­bages are Migori, Ise­bania and Ke­han­cha towns. However, most of his in­di­gen­ous ve­get­able are sold within his Nyanch­abo vil­lage, Kuria West.

He har­vests 200-250 to­mato boxes with te har­vest de­pendinv on the rain.

The in­di­gen­ous ve­get­ables are sold to loc­als who con­sist­ently call in to ask for dif­fer­ent quant­it­ies. He takes the sur­plus to the local busi­ness centres.
Spring onions is an­other big catch of cash. A sack of 50kg spring onions sells at Sh850 to traders from Da­raja Mbili mar­ket in Kisii County.

With his close to Sh1.5 mil­lion in about five months, Boke is glad that he is able to man­age his bill and school fees for his chil­dren. This has also seen him be­come one of the talked about ag­ri­cul­ture en­tre­pren­eurs in the area.

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