JM Social Icons

    How Nyeri farmer keeps cabbage growing costs as just Sh2/head

    120658402 1138139919978093 2561901081124985825 o

    By George Munene

    Through stra­tegic long-term in­vest­ments and farm­ing ex­per­i­ence, Timothy Mburu, a farmer at Naro Moru, Nyeri County, keeps his cab­bage pro­duc­tion cost at just Sh2 per head en­sur­ing he still makes a profit re­gard­less of the pre­vail­ing buy­ing mar­ket price.

    “Most farm­ers fol­low a sim­ilar guide­book on pro­duc­tion, this in­flates their pro­duc­tion costs, when they could be doing more with less,” says Mburu, who has just har­ves­ted 30,000 cab­bage on his two-acre farm, selling each at Sh10-12 per head.

    For cab­bages, as with most other crops, he factors in the fol­low­ing points to re­duce his cost of pro­duc­tion:

    • Nurs­ery man­age­ment

    Cost trim­ming be­gins at the nurs­ery stage where Mburu says he achieves up to 99% seed ma­tur­ity. For an acre, you will need 100 grams of seeds— that’s two 50 gram sachets which cost Sh2500-3000 each. The gloria f1 cab­bage is his pre­ferred vari­ety—in his ex­per­i­ence, it has the ad­vant­ages of being a mar­ket fa­vour­ite as well as being hardy, dis­ease-res­ist­ant and pro­lific. Proper nurs­ery bed spa­cing—often a foot­note for farm­ers, is cru­cial to en­sure high ger­min­a­tion rates. Over­crowding crashes the still sens­it­ive de­vel­op­ing seed­lings as they com­pete for lim­ited re­sources in min­er­als and sun­light. In beds slightly smal­ler than one meter in width, he sows his seeds in rows three to four inches apart, one row hold­ing 30-40 seeds. He also cau­tions farm­ers against over­feed­ing seed­lings whilst they are still in the nurs­ery bed—this he says causes prob­lems once they are trans­planted to the field as they be­come weak. Ma­nur­ing should be ap­plied ju­di­ciously—only mixed in with soil to cover sowed seeds. To ob­tain plants of good qual­ity in the open field fer­til­isa­tion in the nurs­ery is im­port­ant—you will need to apply about one kilo­gram in fer­til­iser for seed­lings trans­planted for an acre

    • Field man­age­ment

    Mburu prac­tices zero till­age, only slash­ing the land he uses to grow his cab­bages, this greatly re­duces field pre­par­a­tion costs. “Cab­bages are a dom­in­ant crop that out­com­petes most weeds for avail­able re­sources, you’ll only have to manu­ally hand weed those that grow early at the top dress­ing phase,” he ex­plains.

    Re­lated News: Second-hand tract­ors open lower cost route for Kenyan farm­ers to mech­an­ize

    Re­lated News: Sunken beds re­duce frost losses, ir­rig­a­tion costs

    Trans­plant­ing should be done whole­sale or in blocks to have even growth in the shamba—this pre­vents hav­ing stun­ted growth as the cab­bages trans­planted late are un­able to com­pete with those trans­planted early.​He also leaves a hand­ful of cab­bages in his nurs­ery bed to im­me­di­ately re­place those that die whilst being trans­planted or whither in the field after trans­plant­ing.

    • Pest and dis­eases con­trol

    Pesti­cide ap­plic­a­tion for Mburu is on a re­act­ive basis. He scouts his farm weekly but has no set ap­plic­a­tion routine, only ap­ply­ing pesti­cides on a need-to basis. “Cab­bages are a hardy ve­get­able, the few pests that a farmer has to be on the lookout for are cut­worms, aph­ids, thrips and the dia­mond­back moth,” he says.

    • Ma­nure, fer­til­iser/fo­liar ap­plic­a­tion

    A lorry of ma­nure costs Sh 30-20,0000, a cost Timothy, whose also a dairy farmer, avoids en­tirely. He ap­plies a hand­ful of ma­nure for every hole.

    For fer­til­isers, he top-dresses with heavy com­pound fer­til­isers such as DAP/ NPK/ Baraka two to three weeks after trans­plant­ing and shal­low fer­til­isers like CAN or Urea dur­ing head form­a­tion. He also ap­plies fo­liar at the starter, ve­get­at­ive and head form­a­tion stage. Three bags of fer­til­iser cost­ing Sh3000 cater to an acre while fo­liar-ap­plied on an acre costs Sh2000.

    Re­lated News: Mum cuts food costs 80 % within two months by farm­ing in Jerri cans

    • Water source

    In 2012, Mburu made a Sh1.2M in­vest­ment in a ½ acre reser­voir cap­able of har­vest­ing up to 50M litres of water. Water scarcity is no longer an issue he has to con­tend with. The rain­wa­ter he har­vests keeps him sup­plied with water on his farm throughout the year. He uses grav­ity ir­rig­a­tion to water his farm avoid­ing any extra costs in­curred in the buy­ing of a water pump.

    • Man­age­ment

    For an acre’s pre­par­a­tion, Timothy hires three cas­ual hands for four days at a cost of Sh300 every half day. Des­pite this, Mburu warns, “Cas­ual or tele­phone farm­ing has left many farm­ers dis­en­chanted with farm­ing; you have to act­ively in­volve your­self in every­day activ­it­ies on your farm.”

    “If pos­sible, farm­ers should also look to lever­age on eco­nom­ies of scale; the mon­et­ary and la­bour cost in pro­du­cing 2,000 or 10,000 pieces of cab­bage is al­most the same,” Mburu ex­plains.

    Comments powered by CComment

    Editor's Pick

    News Feed

    Powered by mod LCA

    Sign Up

    Sign up to receive our newsletter
    FarmBiz Africa © 2020