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Ruiru youth who dropped medicine course for tomatoes has no regrets

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Harun Munuve, 28, six years ago decided to drop pursuing medicine at university to concentrate on farming and since then he has constructed over 40 greenhouses for his clients and built a horticultural produce powerhouse with his tomatoes alone earning him over Sh140,000 a month.

Munuve grew up helping his parents who were subsistence farmers. But he knew there had to be more to farming than just harvesting and eating.

After finishing his high school education and as he waited for his results, he decided to beat boredom by renting some land at Yatta in Machakos.

His parents, impressed by his resolve, assisted him financially. He planted over 800 tomato seedlings without knowing any idea where he would sell them.

“It was the thrill and the burning desire to do farming on my own that was not just for feeding our family. I wanted to see how the market worked,” he said. And although the market never responded as he expected, he had learnt a key lesson, and he was ready.

He shelved the idea of going to study medicine and enrolled at the Kenya Institute of Organic Farming where he studied a diploma in organic farming, before getting an internship and subsequently a job at an organic farm in Karen Nairobi.

“But I was still not satisfied. I wanted to do things my way. And I felt a bit restricted. Again they were paying me Sh18,000 which I considered so low. I wanted to do something big on my own. So I resigned,” he said.

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It is a decision he has never regretted making, for with the parent’s help he managed to rent land in RUiru and concentrate on tomato and capsicum farming. He popularized his venture on social media and joined farmer groups.

“It is from these engagements that one person asked me if I could make greenhouses. Challenged by the growing demand for greenhouses, I went to the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology where one lecturer trained me on how to construct greenhouses and where to assemble materials. I was ready to get into business,” Munuve added.

The first greenhouse he created for his client in Muguga was a huge success. So impressed was the farmer that he started referring his friends to Munuve. “And that is how we have grown,” he said.

The cost of construction of a standard 8*15 meters greenhouse using high quality galvanized materials costs Sh180,000 which includes the cost of seeds and fertilizers. There are however the low cost one that are made of wood which cost Sh136,000.

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Munuve also has a series of greenhouses in his Ruiru farm which gives him over 2 tonnes of tomatoes every month. He also grows capsicum.

He has created a market for himself with buyers like Naivas Supermarket who he has been with for the last six months expressing insatiable demand for his tomatoes. They buy a kilo at Sh70. “But I cannot meet this demand alone. So for the farmers that I construct greenhouse for, we enter into an arrangement with them where I connect them with Naivas or other buyers. It has been a roaring success,” he said.

Now christened the Ruiru’s facebook farmer, Munuve has created huge buzz among young people keen on investing in what they traditionally would not have touched.

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Every day, dozens of visitors flock his farm to learn a thing or two about greenhouses and horticultural production. His revolution has caught regional attention with even media houses like the South African based SABC TV visited his farm to model his farming experience to the African youth.

“I am just starting. I am not just going to use this to build myself and my future but to get every Kenyan youth to understand how much of a gold mine they are sleeping on. They don’t need big land. I want them to know that with a space as small as a basketball pitch they can earn a fortune,” he said.

Munuve can be reached on 0710530636

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