Nicholas Nderu is a 34 years old pastor with a passion in farming. His farm is located at Ndeiya, Kiambu County. He ventured into agribusiness 11 years ago, and attributes his financial achievements to the farming.
He grows Broccoli, a vegetable which he says does well in a moderately uniform, cool environment since too much heat prevents its curd formation. Nderu cautions that too much exposure of broccoli to cool temperatures leads to premature formation of flowers (bolting), hence the formation of small heads called ‘buttons.’
“Broccoli can be directly seeded or first planted in a nursery bed, then transplanted after four to six weeks. When planting, spacing of 45- 90cm between rows and 30-60cm within rows should be maintained,” Nicholas Said.
Before transplanting, fertilizers high with phosphorous and potassium should be applied. Since broccoli is a heavy feeder it should be top dressed with potassium and nitrogenous fertilizers four weeks after transplanting.
Broccoli need to be irrigated more often since it has shallow root system and therefore when it is growing, it require constant availability of moisture to promote produce large heads. “Less moisture results to tough, fibrous stalks and tip-burn of the plant,” Nderu advises. He sources his irrigation water from a community water project.
In terms of weed control, broccoli being a shallow rooted plant requires a lot of care to prevent damaging of its roots and also to avoid entry of fungi and bacteria. It should be clean of weeds to avoid competition for water and nutrients. Weed control and moisture conservation can be achieved through mulching. After transplanting, the vegetable takes between 45 to 60 days before harvesting.
It is harvested while the inflorescence is still immature and compact; before the individual flower heads open because mature heads develop tough, woody fibres in the stems, making it unmarketable.
Mr. Nderu, a father of two is a pastor in charge AIC Kamangu Church after serving in other four AIC Churches for the last 6 years. He started farming when he was still at the Bible College however took it to a higher level after college.
Commenting on his main source of income, “Yes I am a pastor but farming is my main source of income. I have been able to build a house for my family through the proceeds from farming. It has exposed me to more skillful farming, enabling me to venture into new frontiers like seed propagation,” he said.
After many years of practicing farming Nicholas has become an educator and a mentor in agribusiness in his village as well as in the church he serves. “I have seen members of the church replicate my farming in their farms,” he says.
Nderu chose to specialize in horticulture farming because of the availability of ready market for fresh produce especially in Nairobi.
He provides daily bread to many young people in his village. “My farm has been a source of employment to many youths in the neighborhood who are on casual wage. It has also earned financial freedom and investment for myself. As a pastor, you are not supposed to be a burden to the church. You contribute to the church needs together with the congregation,” he says.
He has been able to balance his pastoral ministry and farming. This has been possible because of several factors like good time management, farming duties delegation to casual laborers and maximum support by his wife Joyce Wangui.
“Farming to me is my ‘tent making’. It does not require full time supervision. Once you plant, you only call for irregular monitoring and issuing guidelines,” Nicholas says
He challenges the youth that farming is for everyone in his attempts to demystify the notion that farming is for the old, unschooled, frustrated professionals, failed investors and a punishment. However with proper planning, knowledge and skills in farming is cool.
“Farming is a career which can be pursued like any other career. I can attest that above 85% of my possession is from agribusiness. Farming can be done with the available resources. With a small piece of land you can do wonders. You will only choose your crop or livestock to rear depending on your piece of land and above all, it pays,” says Nicholas. Broccoli is a floral vegetable, which belongs to the brassica family that include vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, collard greens and Chinese cabbage.
The only difference between Broccoli and cabbages is that while cabbage forms a head, broccoli forms green curds. The edible part is the green flower buds and stem. Cosumption of Brocolli is increasing due to its medicinal properties.
Apart from broccoli, he also grow Cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, Celery, Lettuce, red cabbage and capsicum. “The warm weather and the red soil enables the produce to mature faster than in other areas. Using technology I have been able to market myself online. I am currently a member of digital farmers and I sell some of the produce through the platform,” he says.
Contact, Nicholus Nderu
Products & Services:
Location: Ndeiya, Limuru, near
Stepjoy Boys High School.