Disability is not inability, a farmer reaps big from veg farming

Disability is not inability, a farmer reaps big from veg farming

By Malachi Motano
Living with disability, 68 years old Peter Chege earns good money from vegetable farming in Laikipia West Sub County. Though he uses crutches to walk, he doesn’t regret venturing into the veg business and believes disability is no longer a factor to consider in his life when it comes to farming.
Peter who was born with a walking challenge ventured into veg farming three years ago after growing maize for many years. “Just like many people around here, I was growing maize for my home consumption and only sell some when there was extra. However, that was more of hand to mouth. Little did I know that I can transform my life by trying other farming options thanks to different empowerment programs by local NGOs and the County Government,” he narrated.

Now he grows butternuts, French beans, kales (Sukuma wiki) and cabbages. “Butternuts once planted takes about 10 days to sprout and between 110-120 days to mature. Short seasons require that the seeds are grown indoors first,” he explains.

He grows French beans, locally known as mishiri. “Nutritionally, French beans have protein, fat, calcium, iron, phosphorus, vitamins A, B, D and starch. They grow well in lower midland to lower highland zones of altitudes ranging from 1500-2100 meters above sea level,” he says.

kales are easy to grow and sell, enabling someone to have a decent living. “Kales business has the potential to transform economies hence help in reducing poverty. Here in Kenya, kales are grown by 90% of smallholder farmers thus providing employment mostly for women and youth who are involved in production and supply. I do also grow cabbage. I
raise the seedlings in raised or sunken nursery bed; about one meter wide using organic manure. The seeds are sowed along the drills 10cm apart and covered lightly with soil. A hundred to two hundred grams of the seeds is enough for one acre,” Peter explained.

Most cabbage varieties take 45 to 100 days to mature. The crop has a ready market once harvested. While growing the four crops is tedious, Peter has reasons to smile on his way home after every harvest. “I spend about Kshs. 40,000 growing butternuts from farm preparation till harvest, but after selling the produce, I get up to Kshs. 80,000. For French beans, I spend up to Kshs. 80,000 and get Kshs. 125,000 after selling. From kales and cabbages, I earn up to Kshs. 60,000 after spending about Ksh. 30,000 in production,” Peter revealed.

Through farming, Peter has been able to provide for his family. “I have managed to pay for my children’s fee at the university and high school. I am proud that my family is enjoying a decent living. We don’t miss food to eat, clothes to wear and we are able to pay our
bills,” Peter explains.

Peter has also created job opportunities to young people in his village. “Vegetable farming is labor-intensive and so I can’t manage it alone especially during planting and harvesting.
I, therefore, hire few young men to help me when necessary,” said peter.

Horticulture production is one of the four economic pillars of Laikipia County, alongside Tourism, Cereals production and Livestock production. Horticulture production in the county both large scale and small scale has an annual income of over Kshs. 1.3billons.

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