In November 2017, Forty Young Farmers Club students of Riomego Mixed PAG secondary school inspired by their Principal Josephine Kerubo embraced urban farming by planting vegetables on multi-storey sacks, a move that saw the school feed the students sustainably while at the same time saving on purchasing the commodity.
“For three consecutive years since 2014 we experienced challenges in feeding the students in the school due to inadequate funds and lack of land to plant crops, so we had to come up with a way of producing vegetables through the use of sack farming,” said Josephine Kerubo, the Principal of the school.
“Initially we purchased three sacks of the kales per day from local farmers within Nyamira at a cost of Sh800 per sack but the amount often doubled to Sh1500 per sack during the dry season which I believed was expensive,”
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Riomego mixed PAG secondary school was founded in 1900 and has a current population of 330 students and 14 teachers (five employed by the Teachers Service Commission and nine by the school’s board). 160 students are boarders while 170 are day scholars.
In April 2017, the school received a donation of 17 laying improved kienyeji chicken and seven sacks from World Vision, an international Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families and communities worldwide to reach their full potential by addressing the causes of poverty and injustice.
Droppings from the chicken collected for a period of seven months is what motivated the school to venture into vegetable farming using sacks which were placed strategically in between flower beds on the assembly grounds. The school sits on just 2.5 acres which accommodates both the primary and secondary sections and therefore the land is inadequate to plant crops.
Each sack had a capacity to hold at least 100 plants at a go, but the students planted 70 cuttings per sack in November 2017. The cuttings were bought from neighboring farmers near the school at Sh5 per cutting.
The plants were irrigated manually at least twice in a day with harvested water from the school’s two water tanks with a capacity of 20,000 liters.
“The maintenance of the plants is easy as they only need water and weeds rarely grow on the sacks,” said Kerubo.
The Principal Riomego PAG Mixed sec school and agriculture teacher maintaining the 4k club garden.The school is in Magwagwa ward, Nyamira north subcounty.PHOTO/COURTESY
In addition to the sack farming the school leased a quarter of an acre from in November 2017 for a period of one year at Sh1500 from a local farmer residing next to the school. The land is under more kales cultivation. The school obtained 250g seeds to plant the farm from an agrovet within Nyamusi center at Sh200.
Since January 2018, the school has harvests at least three sacks of kales per day in addition to receipt of one sack from a parent and this is enough for consumption by the entire student population.