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Narok farmer testament to value of book-keeping in realising farming millions

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Geoffrey Rono in his greenhouse farm in NarokGeof­frey Rono in his to­mato green­house near Mara River in Narok county. Keep­ing re­cords on his farm­ing ex­penses and in­come has helped him trace well his loses and profits foe the past four years. Photo: Zablon Oyugi.

In 20012, Geof­frey Rono lost some six mil­lion shil­lings from wheat farm­ing on his 48 acres of land due to the lack of proper re­cord keep­ing across his ex­penses and earn­ings. Since then he has been using a note book to note his farm trans­ac­tions on a daily basis earn­ing him close to six mil­lion shil­lings an­nu­ally.

“By the end of 2013, I was un­able to ac­count for my wheat pro­duc­tion ex­penses, all I no­ticed was that I could not plant the fol­low­ing sea­son as the money I real­ised from selling wheat was not enough to buy fresh farm in­puts,” said Rono.

“I felt totally fin­ished to a point of com­mit­ting sui­cide as I had never lost such a huge amount of money be­fore. I now use a 612-page hard book to re­cord my pro­duc­tion ex­penses, sales and tim­ing of my crops, which en­ables me know when to plant, what to add at a given pro­duc­tion level, and mar­ket trends on a daily basis.”

Rono was forced to begin everything afresh, chan­ging from wheat to hay pro­duc­tion and green­house farm­ing. He also had to sell his tractor, which he used for cul­tiv­a­tion, for Sh1.5m, to begin again, with hay pro­duc­tion, in 2014.

RE­LATED ART­ICLE: Ways to main­tain farm re­cords

 On shar­ing his or­deal, the area ag­ri­cul­tural ex­ten­sion of­ficer and fel­low farm­ers ad­vised him on the be­ne­fits of book­keep­ing, which he has since ad­op­ted, as he has ven­tured into Boma Rhodes hay pro­duc­tion and green­house to­mato farm­ing.

He grows Boma Rhodes hay in 48 acres piece of plot three sea­sons a year pro­du­cing up to 200 bales per sea­son trans­lat­ing to 600 bales a year. A bale fetches him over Sh250. 

“I sell my hay to farm­ers prac­ti­cing dairy farm­ing in Git­hun­guri and Machakos where farm­ers prac­tice zero graz­ing and ex­per­i­ence lim­ited pas­ture re­spect­ively. Narok re­ceive enough rain­fall for pas­ture and is also oc­cu­pied by Maa­sai her­ders who own big land and have enough space to graze their an­im­als,” said Rono.

 He also has six green­houses meas­ur­ing 8×40 metres with a ca­pa­city of car­ry­ing 1250 to­mato plants per sea­son trans­lat­ing to about 7500 plants from the six green­houses.

RE­LATED ART­ICLE: Super grass cuts green­house gases, trip­ling yields

Under good ag­ro­nom­ical prac­tices, Rono says that one to­mato plant can fetch about Sh500 earn­ing him Sh3.8m at the end of every sea­son.

After de­duct­ing my ex­penses on fer­til­izer, la­bour, trans­port, and seeds I re­main with Sh3.2m net in­come per sea­son.

He grows Anna F1 to­mato vari­ety from Amiran Kenya from where he get ag­ro­nom­ists who help him with skills and train­ings to aid him in his pro­duc­tion pro­cess.

“I like the to­mato vari­ety be­cause it ma­tures fast, reach­ing ma­tur­ity just in 75 days after trans­plant­ing. With good man­age­ment and when planted in a green­house it pro­duces a huge yield of 74 tons per acre (about 85 kg per square-meter).”

RE­LATED ART­ICLE: Pro­ject cre­ates low­cost green­houses for East African farm­ers

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