A Farmer finds niche in farming Carrots after retirement

Carrots are popular vegetables that are easy to grow. They grow all year round and are very resistant to most pests and diseases. In Kenya, most of the farmers grow the orange variety. Cold weather is an important factor to be considered when cultivating carrots otherwise they can turn to bitter taste and develop into thin tap roots. Nyandarua County being a cold area leads in production of carrots.
In search of this edible tap roots, our journalistic intrigues landed us in the slopes of Aberdare forest; Mutamaiyu village, North Kinangop. We meet Geoffrey Kariuki Waweru popularly known in the area as Taliban; a humble man, busy tending his three acres carrot farm. This he avers has been his daily routine since he retired from Kenya Prison in year 2000 where he worked as a carpenter.
On entering his homestead, is a magnificent house that is nearing completion which he revealed he has fully funded it with proceeds from his farm. “Last year was a very good year I managed to raise 3.5 million shillings from my farm. This is money that I have never received during all my entire service years in the prison,” he joyfully narrates. “When I bought this land, it was entirely bushy due to its closeness to the forest, together with my family, I sourced services of young men around who assisted me in clearing the bushes and on the tilling the land,” he explained.
Taliban-Carrot-farmer
He prepares the land, sows the seeds on the soil and sprinkles a little water to increase the moisture content of the soil hence facilitating high germination of the seeds. The village is well endowed with fresh tap water that trickles down from the Aberdare forest.
Proper soil preparation is very important in achieving success with the root crop. Carrots grow best in deep, loose soil that is able to retain moisture and is well drained. For Kariuki, he has dug furrows running parallel to the crop to drain excess water and ensure that the soil is well drained.
‘’We do not add soil on top of the seeds once we have sowed them like some farmers in other areas do, here we sprinkle a small amount of water just to sink the seeds a little. The seeds are very tinny and adding to much soil will lead to uneven germination,’’ he elucidates
He purchases his seeds from agrovets at Engineer town. Last year, he bought 4 kilos of seeds and sowed them on his 3 acre piece of land. At the end of the season, he harvested 200 sacks of which he sold at 2,500 per sack.
For maximum returns of the planted carrots, one has to water two to three times a week thus ensuring the soil does not run dry as this hinders the growth and development of the taproots.
Once sowed, it takes two weeks to three for one to notice them shooting up. It’s a crop that matures very fast in that in four months time, harvesting is done.
‘’You have to look closer at the top surface of a growing carrot and if one observes a white color at the stem, then that’s a clear indication that it’s not fully matured as there is still room for growth at the stem,’’ he explained
In addition, Waweru has been able to diversify his farming by propagating seedlings of several fruits such as tree tomatoes, pears, passion fruits and pepino melon.
The biggest challenge is the poor state of the roads which make it difficult for buyers to access his farm. This forced him to buy a motor bike which he uses to transport his produce in order to be transported to Nairobi and other major towns.

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