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Nyamira youth earning Sh1.25m a year from mixed farming

Janet Chebet receiving Best Youth Farmer award from President Uhuru Kenyatta during the 2015 Nairobi Agricultural Trade Fair Jamhuri Grounds
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Janet Chebet receiving Best Youth Farmer award from president Uhuru Kenyatta during Nairobi International Trade Fair in Nairobi. She has also won other two farmer awards. Photo courtecy.

Janet Chebet Onganga, 30, is making over one million shillings gross annual income from dairy, aquaculture and horticulture farming a venture which has seen her win three awards within a period of six months.

She started with dairy farming in February 2012 by using bout Sh140,000 part of the money she got from her parents sent her as college fees. She used about Sh60,000 to purchase two Friesian and Jersey heifers, spent Sh10,000 on transport and Sh90,000 on cowshed.

“I chose to start with dairy farming because I needed compost manure since I had a big plan to use the remaining money to start aquaculture and horticulture farming since manure is good for algae needed in fish pond and crops growths,” said Chebet.

“Using compost manure from the cows’ shed would reduce my cost of buying the manure from other farmers.”

She has won Best Youth Farmer award in Kenya in 2015 for practicing aquaculture and green house farming. She also won the Best Farmer award by National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) in the same year and Most Successful Farmer award by Equity Bank in 2016 for having excelled in agribusiness through the loans assistance from the bank.

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She disregarded her parents’ wish to train as a teacher after completing her high school education and instead chose to be a farmer, a decision which has landed her three awards and other recognitions in a period of six years.

She finished her secondary school from Kiptere Mixed in 2004 and scored C- then got married to her husband Julius Onyancha in December the same year. Her parents gave her Sh300,000 in January 2012 to enroll for a teaching course at a college of her choice the amount she instead used as a capital to start off in farming.

When her parents realised their daughter was not in any college, they became angry. “My parents were bitter with me about the decision I had taken and they stopped calling or sending me any message,” said Chebet.

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Currently she has ten cow of which two are lactating. She milks 10 litres per day from the two cows selling a litre at Sh60. This gives her about Sh18,000 a month and Sh100,000 a year after spending Sh16,800 on feeds.

To cope up with the dry condition experienced in the country right now, she prepares silage of napier grass, maize stalks and molasses which she use to feed the cows.

Her efforts in dairy farming attracted attention of agricultural officers of the county government of Nyamira who gave her a certificate of recognition in 2012 upon accessing her work and realising she had a good understanding in farming.

“I got full approval by the ministry of agriculture of Nyamira County in December 2012 after the officers from the ministry came, looked at what I was doing and asking questions to find out whether I had knowledge in farming,” said Chebet.

This encouraged her and she proceeded to spend about Sh200,000 out of her income from dairy farm to build two fish ponds of 300 metres square each in 2013. She then bought 2000 tilapia fingerlings at five shillings each spending a total of ShSh10,000 on the fingerlings.

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Today she has 2000 tilapia fish in her two fish ponds. She does major fish harvest twice a year but she can occasionally harvest depending on the demand. She sells one mature fish at Sh200 translating to over Sh200,000 annual income.

Fish farming became her second completed plan because the aim was to use the water drained from the fish pond to irrigate crops in greenhouses and open field.

“Water from fish ponds are nutritious to crops because it has fish wastes and this also helps me to cut cost on manure and water usage especially this dry season since I rely on harvested water,” she said.

Chebet who is now harvesting tomatoes from her 10×40 and 8×30 metres greenhouses started greenhouse farming with a capital of Sh350,000 in late 2013. She has other two greenhouses measuring 8×15 and 8×30 metres currently under vegetables such as spider plant and kales among others awaiting tomato planting next season.

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Greenhouse is Chebet’s main agribusiness in her farm as this is what has earned her a state award and recognition apart from earning her over Sh300,000 annual income.

“My four greenhouses keeps me busy the most especially when I am harvesting tomatoes. I invest Sh450,000 in tomato production and I  earn over Sh750,000 return,” she said.

She also grows butternuts on part of her farm. One butternut plant yields her about five fruits and one fruit goes for Sh20 meaning from her 1000 plants she has right now she expects to earn Sh100,000. This with the money she earns from vegetable sales gives her a total of Sh181,000.

Her farm which has now become a host of agribusiness activities now attracts other farmers from the region who come for bench marking and university students from the University of Hong Kong (HKU) in China who occasionally come in a company of other students and lecturers from the University of Nairobi (UoN) to conduct case studies.

“To avoid any interferences with our family affairs, we have put up an office in our compound where we receive visitors and farmers besides keeping our farm records,” said Chebet

Her parents have heard news about her success in farming and they now appreciate and encourage her. “They have come to respect my decision and have become my great supporters.”

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To boost her skills and knowledge in farming, Chebet attends agricultural trainings organised by the county’s ministry of agriculture and World Vision organization which work with children, families and communities worldwide to reach their full potential by addressing the causes of poverty and injustice.

Additionally she also gets financial and knowledge support from his husband who works as a procurement officer at Nyamusi district office in Nyamira County.

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