By George Munene
Latia Farm located at Seising, off the Isinya Kiserian road, sits on some 60 acres, 38 acres of which are currently under use, in a grand, private-sector adventure of agricultural training and innovation.
The farm has lecture halls, dormitories and a restaurant to offer six month apprenticeship courses to some 1000 form four leavers yearly— a quarterly intake of 250 students. The apprentices are given practical farming experience on almost every facet of farming; crop farming, specialized horticulture and animal husbandry. The program, which is part sponsored by Kenya Commercial Bank, offers loaned training, feeding and board, which the trainees pay off from the produce they grow and is sold outside the farm. On completing the course, Latia, also helps them get internship placements. Recruits for the program are sought from across the country with the help of county officials.
Practical farming experience is also offered to farmers who are looking to learn intensive/innovative farming methods. This is given as a four day Thursday to Sunday crash course at a Sh1000 daily charge.
Consultancy and marketing services, especially to first time farmers looking to avoid the pitfalls many agripreneurs endure when starting out are also a part of their offering.
The farm is compartmentalised with areas offering open field and greenhouse farming as well a 7 acre Agritech section which serves as an innovation hub. David Kimwaki, an agronomist at the farm, says they have worked out ways of using earthworms to decompose manure used as organic foliar. They are also refining the use of shade nets, which are much cheaper, as a stand in for greenhouses.
They are stretches of maize fields as well as French beans which grown for the export market. The farm is replete with greenhouses used to house tomatoes. Majoring in horticulture; sukuma wikis, cabbages, onions, capsicums, broccolis, butternuts, cucumbers and cauliflowers are a fixture on the farm. They also grow indigenous veggies such as the spider plant, black nightshade and managu. The farm has 10 cows, pigs, milk goats, chickens and has just gotten into rabbit keeping.
Latia Farm: 0716 431054