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Meet YPARD mentee: Samuel Murage

By Muthoni MugoSamuel Murage was born and raised on the slopes of Mount Kenya in a small village called Kathaka. Coffee and tea are the most famous crops in his home turf – the climate there favours coffee and tea growth making it the number one income earner for the locals who are predominantly farmers for lack of other options.To better their chances, Samuel’s family grew both tea and coffee but they also practiced dairy farming. Samuel says dairy farming overtook the other two to become their number one income earner and they have now shifted their focus exclusive to dairy farming.Watching his parents look after their cows as a child helped him to learn a lot about the different aspects of dairy farming. Samuel notes that the reason dairy farming provides more income than the other enterprises is because it is not affected by seasonality. Unlike crop farming where income depend on the quality of the season, dairy farming can supply milk independent of seasons and as such, a more steady revenue stream.Position:Founder, Lesahfarm enterprisesCountry:KenyaEducation:Mechanical engineering, Kenya PolytechnicMentor:Margaret Syomiti, Research scientist, animal nutrition and feed scienceInspired by his background, Samuel pursued a diploma in mechanical engineering at the Kenya Polytechnic. He undertook his attachment at Uzima Feeds company where he developed a business plan and his first dairy meal product. “I gave the meal to my dad, and he saw the improvement in dairy production at our farm,” he says.Samuel wanted to prove that agriculture-based innovations can provide solutions to problems in our daily lives as well as employment and income even for young people today. And now he says, he has a vision to create jobs for fellow youth – a motivation behind his decision to follow a career in dairy food processing.He believes the sector has the largest potential to create many jobs than any other as it is yet to be exploited. His love has pushed him to leading the youth towards contributing in realization of Kenya Vision 2030 through the economic pillar - rather than languishing in drugs addiction and wasting away while blaming it on youth unemployment.Today, as the founder of Lesahfarm enterprises, Samuel is engaged in hay farming, feeds formulation and the production of fodder block, pellet and cattle lick production. His business has five permanent employees, including himself, and he often hires up to 25 casual workers. He is currently working on development of fodder pellets for cattle. Pellets are a new option for nourishment of livestock, using different forms of roughage such as dried grass, paddy straw and other plant parts, helping farmers overcome the shrinking supply of green fodder and the rising prices of other cattle feed products.His facility procures roughage sourced from nearby farms. The fodder is enriched with additives such as molasses, salt and minerals, and then compressed into pellets. The plant has a capacity to produce approximately 15Kg of fodder pellets a day.Samuel is now looking at partnering with financial institutions to grow and expand his business, in particular to increasing the production of fodder pellets as well as diversifying his products. He wants to expand towards processing and formulating high-quality animal feeds for cattle, poultry, pigs and turkeys.Most importantly, Samuel is determined to create employment in agriculture for his fellow youth and wants his business to be an inspiring place to work. Thanks to his success, he is convinced that agriculture provides several opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs, especially for unemployed youth living in rural parts of Kenya. His hobbies, which include travelling, reading the Bible, riding his motorbike and watching or playing soccer, reflect his youthful passion.Samuel is joining the YPARD mentoring program an expectant person. He is expecting that being involved will help him grow his career and attain personal goals but also, he looks forward to sharing his rich and diverse experiences with follow participants.Muthoni Mugo is a communications specialist for Kimetrica LTD, a social enterprise that delivers Knowledge Management services for development projects. She is passionate about communities solving social problems through innovation and entrepreneurship.