Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Teresia Wamaitha: What you need to know before venturing into vegetable farming

Teresia Wamaitha Chege, a psychologist by profession has forged a successful career in farming 10 years after venturing into vegetable farming.

The farmer revealed she started small with a kitchen garden inspired by her passion for farming. As the number of customers continued to balloon, she decided to expand the venture to meet the demand.

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Today, her farm hosts various vegetables, including sukumawiki, spinach, cabbage, carrots, dhania, tomatoes, onions, guacamole, and lettuce, which she sells to locals and supermarkets, while part of the produce is exported to neighboring countries.

“The journey has been so good and farming has really favoured me. In the beginning I was wary because I didn’t know the ropes of farming coming from a corporate life. However, the business picked up, and I get huge monthly orders, which are so surreal.” She says.

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While the business has, over time, proved to be the real deal, Wamaitha says some challenges can kick farmers out of it or drive them into losses.

Among the challenges are pests and diseases which can lower yield or lead to the rejection of produce by exporters, spelling doom to the farmers.

“These kinds of pests are a nightmare.  They are mostly active during the night, and once the larvae enter the fruit, it is too difficult to detect until it is too late to salvage the crop,” she explains, citing the false coding moth and whiteflies as the biggest threat.

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For tomato farmers, Wamaitha warns them of the Bacteria wilt disease which causes withering of the leaves or sometimes the whole crop.

“This disease mostly affects tomatoes, pepper, eggplants and irish potatoes. It causes withering of the leaves, some shoots or worse the whole plant especially where there is ample moisture in the soil.” She says.

Despite the pests and diseases nightmare, Wamaitha says vegetable farming is highly profitable if correctly done and with a ready market.

She claims that the money she makes from farming cannot be compared to the salary she used to earn in her lucrative job. When the season is good, she earns a profit of over a hundred thousand.

“Agriculture will eradicate poverty and unemployment and improve the GDP of the country. It is also a gold mine that young people need to tap.” She remarks.

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