Farming has always been associated with illiteracy and the older generation. But one young lady has debunked all this myths.
Annie Nyaga, who boasts of a Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Science and Technology, is a thriving horticulture farmer in Embu.
Despite getting a scholarship to do a Master’s degree in Biomedical Science and Technology in USA after graduating from Egerton University, Annie, turned down the scholarship to pursue her heart’s desire – farming.
“Farming has always taken a special portion of my heart. I don’t feel like I wasted my four years in university since I can apply what I learned in my farm,” says Annie adding “Farming is a profession like any other and young people should not view it as a side hussle. They should be ready to soil their hands if they want to prosper in farming.”
The 28-year-old is a successful farmer in Mbeere, Embu County, where she plants watermelons and tomatoes among others.
Her journey to farming began in 2009, two years after graduating from university with a capital of Sh. 20,000. She began with French beans and baby corns for the export market, then she got demoralised due to poor market.
“I had a passion for farming. My parents practiced it and I noticed they got good returns,” she adds.
Annie says in spite of challenges, she never gave up. She decided to concentrate on watermelons, which are doing well to date, earning her a name as a successful young farmer in Embu County.
“Considering the availability of water in the region, cheap labour and adequate climate, I settled on watermelon since it requires a lot of water and sunlight,” says Annie.
Her journey to the top has never been a walk in the park. She began by working as a purchasing assistant before she started supplying groceries in the city. This is when she noticed that farmers received good income from farming.
“I saw a potential in farming when I was supplying groceries around the city. Farmers could reap mouth wetting benefits,” she adds.
She explains that she tried various seed varieties of watermelon before she settled on the hybrid seeds, which yield a bumper harvest. She then invested in machinery like water pump for irrigation and hired permanent staff to look after the crops in the farm.
Annie points out that farming has a lot of potential, but people should do proper timing by planting a few weeks to the rainy season to save on water.
Though watermelon farming has a few challenges like price fluctuation, since middlemen dictate the prices, she believes things can only get better.
She started a company, Farm2Home, in 2009, which provides a valuable educational resource to young farmers and staff. She is the CEO, and it has a widely used e-business market place and an efficient local distribution system. She insists that farming is the best decision she has made so far, and calls upon young people to change their perception on farming. Today, she invests between Sh80,000 and Sh100,000 per acre. This covers cost of seeds, labour, chemicals, irrigation, salaries and fertiliser. With good management, one can harvest 30 to 40 tonnes per acre. In her harvests, Ms Nyaga takes up to 30 tonnes and at Sh. 28 per kilo, makes a net profit of Sh. 600,000 from a gross of Sh. 840,000 in three months.