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Brothers striking riches in mixed farming

In the outskirts of Chuka town in Igamba Ng’ombe Constituency, Tharaka-Nithi County, there’s an outstanding farm along Kangoro-Rubate Road. The 3.5 acre christened Kagumo-Hort farm belongs to Murithi Musa and his brother Edward Micheni.Their farm is a beehive of activity. On the ground, lay bits of cassava well spread as part of the chicken feed; the poultry house is well constructed such that the chicken are kept clean and warm.

A hatchery composing of an incubator and brooder are also in place to cater for the high demand for the kienyeji chicken. Right adjacent to the poultry house is a warren that is stocked with big healthy rabbits. How did they start this enviable project?

Musa explains that one day, he needed a Sh0.5 million loan.

“I took my piece of land as collateral, but upon evaluation, I discovered that the value of the piece of land was high as compared to the amount of money I needed.

This made me re-think. I shelved my plans of taking the loan and thought of investing in the farm to make it more valuable,” he says. Since it was a family farm, he consulted his brother.

He bought into the idea and using the savings they had, they started with 200 banana tissue plants. The bananas picked up well then they went into poultry and rabbit keeping. They have since ventured into fish farming. “The trick with fish is that they are fed at specific times of the day.

If it is cold the fish are not fed as tilapia fish don’t feed well when temperatures are low,” Musa who is a co-director of the farm with his brother shares. The pond’s water is rich in minerals and is often pumped to the other parts of the farm like the arrowroot farm, passion fruits farm, mangoes and the banana farm. The farm has four green houses, two that major purely on strawberries; the third one has garden peas while the last one has assorted crops that range from cucumbers, beetroots and courgettes.

Right beside each greenhouse are some weeds that are allowed to grow. These weeds are a way of enticing and attracting other insects that could otherwise find their way to the green houses.

Part of the farm is also inter-cropped with mangoes and cassava. Tree tomatoes also occupy part of the farm and it is one of the most beneficial farm produce as it yields throughout the year and requires little attention. “Its market is also good and the farm cannot even satisfy the demand which includes the two main supermarkets in Chuka town that is Jatomy and Maguna Andu Supermarkets,” says Musa.

The lower part of the farm is occupied by the sweet yellow passion fruit that was introduced to the farm by Techno-Serve Company under the sponsorship of Bill Gates Foundation and the Coca-Cola Company which trained them on how to tender for the fruit from the initial stage. On the far end of the farm, are the goats that are a main source of rich nutritional milk that is meant for their own consumption. At the edge of the farm are some well spaced beehives that help pollinate the farm and also generate honey for sale.

“Everything in the farm is of great value and nothing including the weeds is allowed to go to waste,” says Musa. The farm weeds that range from banana trunks are mixed together with wastes from the poultry, rabbits and goats’ farm and are all preserved in a pit to make compost manure.

The farm operates under a farm manager who is in charge of all the activities in the farm. The farm is the main source of income for the duo. Every garden has thorns, so what are the challenges they have faced? “First lack of a reliable source of water is a problem. So we have to incur huge expenses to meet that need.

The other challenge is the fact that our farm is near the road means that most of our produce is very dusty.

Another challenge is that sometimes we face setbacks when sourcing for fingerlings. The supplier tells us that we have to wait for several months. But we are working our way around that,” Musa says. Their advise to youth who want to join farming?

“Farming is rewarding. Instead of looking for white-collar jobs, youths should try farming,” Musa says. They also urge the young people to research widely before embarking on any income generating activity by attending forums, shows, workshops and also researching online.

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