Eteina Seedling Raiser is a farm based at Kinanie village in Machakos County. This the brain child of Noah Nasiali who saw the need to help farmers get credible seedlings. His farm is an awesome sight of lush healthy green vegetable seedlings at different stages of growth in these semi-arid lands.
He has majored in propagating various seedlings such as, Cabbages, Tomatoes, Chilies, Kales, Capsicum, Onions, Broccoli, Beetroots among others.
Nasiali who is an IT expert dealing with Intelligence Security Systems got the inspiration to farming from his father-in law who also cultivates in Machakos . After three years of trials and errors he mastered the art and now he is farming for 9 years though he had no prior training in agriculture.
His resilience in farming has seen him rise from cultivating an eighth acre to two multiple farms Kinanie and Kamulu area, Ruai. This has also caught the attention of a prominent agricultural company who are carrying out a demo in his farm on improved hybrid capsicum cultivation.
Eteina farm carries out farm clinics where various groups visit to be trained on farming.”Most farmers want immediate seedlings and many are not good in nursery management and thus why we are here to assist them.
Beside propagation, we carry out sensitization work, soil testing as Cropnuts “Daktari waUdongo” Agents, consultancy on farm management,” Nasiali averred.
To impact his farming knowledge to other aspiring farmers, he offers internship to students from agricultural colleges as well as universities. This is to equip them with experience and encourage them to take up farming as a profession.
“We have created an on-line Facebook platform called Africa Farmers Club where we have teamed up with other farmers around the country. The aim is to educate each other concerning
Vegetable farming market trends since most farmers are not sales agents hence they end up being conned by people purporting to be middle men. Currently the group has over 56,000 active members,” Noah explained.
On the farm numerous greenhouses have been constructed where the propagation is done. He sources seeds form certified companies and grows them in plastic trays with planting media mixed to achieve a uniform growth. Some seedlings are also propagated in open fields to give farmers an array of opportunity to choose between greenhouse and open field seedlings.
Before supplying seedlings to prospective farmers, he advices them to first carry out of soil analysis to determine which nutrients deficiency and PH levels of their farms. ‘’Averagely we propagate over 30,000 seedlings of various vegetables every month. For instance, for onions we charge 35,000 to 45, 000 shillings for seedlings for an acre a customer. This charge ensures in case of uneven growth we replace the withered seedlings by ourselves and also offer free spray on the first weeks. We also go ahead to offer free spray programs. This has made us to be one the most affordable propagator in the country,” he explained.
The charges he avers are manageable and if a farmer takes into full consideration, the right feeding program, weeding, pest and disease program and proper crop management, a farmer can rake in 550,000 to 600,000 shillings from onions on an acre piece of land.
According to him, farming is a full time occupation which farmers need to pay close attention to in order to get good results. His advice to farmers is to ensure that their farms are supplied with enough water throughout.
Eteina farm being next to Athi-river is assured of un-interrupted water supply. “My earnings are from farming, the proceeds have enabled me to sustain myself and my family. It also sustain the farm in terms of cost of production, pay my eleven employees at the end of every month,”Nasiali stated.
Having received a Global Gap and KEPHIS certification recently has enabled him to get one of his major contract; to supply 10,000 vegetable seedlings to different parts of Africa beginning February 2018.
The biggest challenge he encounters is the excess heat in Machakos which easily withers seedlings in the greenhouse. To counter this, he regularly humidifies the greenhouses. The other challenge is that even after training some of his employees he sometimes ends up losing them as they are lured by other farms hence impacting on his progress. “This is positive as I get to know that I have trained them well,” he said.
He intends to increasing production of his seedlings in future as well as put up an online agro vet where farmers will be placing orders for their desired types of vegetables. He appreciates the fact that some very senior agronomists have been very instrumental in seeing this dream come true and to farmers who have been a great motivation to him.