Smallholder Summer flower grower determination Despite plights

In the fringes of Thika town at a place called Kilimambogo, off Garissa highway, we meet John Musyoki; who despite his ageing appearance is tackling summer flower farming head on.

 

Having nursed the ambition of being a lawyer in his heydays; he repeated after failing final exam at Kilimambogo Teacher Training College only to drop out after being convinced by fellow students that were now working, that college was a waste of time as people were making money in the outside world.

 

John sort employment in a leading company in Thika. He diligently served in the company and resigned in 1980 to venture into farming.

 

Like other elite small scale holders who have diversified their agricultural enterprises from the norm of growing foodstuffs, to growing saleable crops; mzee John has undertaken into growing summer flowers vehemently.

 

A smile on his face can easily be mistaken for a man reaping huge from summer flowers but his journey has been a torturous one.

 

He narrates that farmers from Kiambu, Machakos, Muranga and Embu consolidated together to form a company; Munyu Floriculture to grow summers on their own but ship the consignment together as a company.

 

The company did not achieve the volume demanded by their clients as the largest consignment they made was 27 boxes against 32 boxes that were consistently required.

 

“Later one of the director of the company took over as sole-proprietor, inheriting the group debts as it collapsed,’’ said John.

 

For summer flowers to thrive well they need manure, weeding and water in large quantities. John uses a petrol pump to irrigate his farm from a nearby river but the cost implication is another impediment.

 

“Summer flower farming is expensive, I have spent more than 160,000 shillings on leasing the land, buying seeds, employing workers and i commute daily to come and check on the land,” he narrated.

 

Furthermore, the market for summer flowers is dominated by middlemen. They usually buy the flowers at low prices. Nevertheless, he says he will continue to grow the flowers with anticipation the future will be rosy.

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