Kevin Njiiru Ngari, a 30-year-old greenhouse farmer from Embu, arid Mbeere regions, makes 1 Million shillings from greenhouse farming. He has seen his hard work and investments turn fruitful in the greenhouse farming enterprise. He had a lot of struggles setting up his now flourishing business which earns him revenues in Millions during the harvest season.
Kevin comes from a humble background and recalls that he only drank milk during the Moi era when milk was free at schools. Milk is now a commodity in shortage in the Mbeere area despite the high demand. Kevin thus saw a gap in the market that needed to be filled. When Kevin set out to establish the first dairy farm agricultural enterprise he earned a lot of admiration from his colleagues. It was however a complete disaster as he nearly lost the dairy farm he worked hard to build.
Later on, Kevin read about greenhouses and the profits associated with carrying out farming in the latter. He decided to learn more about greenhouses and attended various training courses. Kevin was determined to start a greenhouse farming business.
“I first heard about greenhouse farming in a publication and was shocked at how effortlessly and quickly young folks were generating a lot of money,”
Kevin recalls as this was his ultimate source of inspiration before he considered venturing into the business.
According to Kevin’s calculations before starting, a crop is estimated to bring Kshs. 3000 per square meter. This meant that a single harvest from his intended business would offer him returns not less than Kshs. 400,000. Since the dairy farm business did not work out well, he sold most of his animals to begin a greenhouse farm.
He started by planting tomatoes in the greenhouse which was a massive fail at the end of the first harvesting season. To him, this served as a wake-up call and he did not see quitting as an option. He needed to do more study and research into greenhouse farming.
“I began reading about profitable greenhouse farming in Kenya and other countries.”
When Kevin was well knowledgeable he decided to invest in capsicum (Pilipili Hoho) instead of tomatoes.
“Capsicum are more disease and pest resistant as compared to tomatoes although both require almost identical growth conditions.”
How Kevin made 1 Million shillings from greenhouse farming
Kevin has two greenhouses each of which is a quarter acre in size. He utilized a 30cm by 50cm spacing in his greenhouse which allowed him to plant 5625 plants approximately in each greenhouse. In total, he had planted around 11,250 plants.
A plant on average bore at least 10 fruits (capsicums). He sold each fruit at Kshs. 10. The harvest was well over and above 110,000 fruits. His returns on investments translated to high figures that have enabled him to keep his greenhouse business running and still have more than enough left for different use.
The returns on capsicum farming like any other enterprise are determined by how well you run the business. Is a greenhouse a good investment? Yes, it is. Despite the financial commitments, results are always worth the efforts. Commercial greenhouses can be financially unbearable to operate but small greenhouses do not follow require a lot of financial attention as compared to the former.