Part of Washington Lwano’s arrowroot farm at Matungu in Kakamega County. He harvests 20-24 bags weighing 90kg per season from the farm. Photo courtesy.
Matungu village in Kakamega County has been in the recent past hit headlines with stories about a gang which has been terrorising the area killing and maiming residents and among the suspects are young energetic people whose strengths can be converted into profitable ventures such as food production.
However, for Washington Lwano 25, who hails from the same village, growing arrowroots has been his full-time commitment earning him up to Sh150,000 a season thanks to his parents who natured him in the venture.
“I grew up seeing my parents growing arrowroots among other crops just for family consumption and the surplus could be given to relatives, neighbours and friends with no commercial idea put at it but I have since realised that the crop can earn good returns should it be grown with a view of selling it,” said the 2015 Bachelor of Commerce in Finance and Banking graduate from Egerton University.
Lwano first got motivated when he planted some arrowroots within a half an acre piece of plot part of family land in November 2016. As a way of incurring nil cost of production he used some seedlings he sourced from his parents’ farm and did all the land preparation, planting and weeding alone.
After six months he would harvest all the matured tubers for the market. At the end of the season, he realised Sh45,000 profit without spending even a coin.
“I felt so much motivated as this was beyond my expectation and given that I had spent nothing to grow the tubers,” said Lwano.
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In addition the area is lowland hence it supports arrowroot farming without irrigation. He also makes farmyard manure and sources more from livestock keepers enabling him to grow organic farming of arrowroots.
He has since increased the area under production from a half an acre to one and a half acres enabling him produce between 20 and 24 bags weighing 90kg every season. He sells a bag at Sh7,5000 to a broker in Kakamega Town who letter transport it to bigger markets and sell it to consumers.
“I am not best at marketing that is why I rely on middlemen to sell my produce though I feel it is my biggest challenge because a bag in bigger towns and cities in the country such as Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu fetches between Sh9,000-10,000,” said Lwano.