By Steven Mulanda
There are people whose determination and zeal are pillars of their success. When life or circumstances try to pull them backwards, they re-invent themselves with much vigor their goal being to conquer. Grace Wangui is that type of person who’s first farming adventures of tomatoes in Makueni didn’t augur well. She had to think out of the box and embraced cucumber farming at Matungulu in Machakos County and has proved to be a good turn around.
Her journey to cucumber farming began when she visited a family friend in 2018. This was after she got frustrated with tomato farming after investing heavily only for the rains to precipitates the emergency of early blight which wiped out all her produce. Besides the rainfall, her farmhand whom she had entrusted the farm to, took off with the money she was sending to him. By that time she was still employed and was only making frantic calls to find out which farming activities were taking place. This didn’t despair her, she rolled out her sleeves and ventured to cucumber cultivation full throttle.
“After the encounter, I had to quit employment solely to concentrate on farming because the future of farming is bright and while employed, I was engaging in farming activities and getting some handsome returns. Farming is a fulfilling venture just like taking care of young children until they reach maturity level, it really rejuvenates me. I had to contract an agronomist who advised me to grow my crops in a greenhouse for better farm management and easy monitoring of pests and diseases,” she opined.
Cucumber is a climbing vine plant that bears cylindrical fruits, used as vegetables. Being climbing vines they need to be supported. This is done after the tendrils appear during the vegetative stage. The farmer then uses mesh wires to support them. Proper weeding and pest management is important to ensure that they are not competing for nutrients or getting destroyed.
Cucumbers are easy to take care of and they grow quickly as long as they are fed properly and receive consistent watering. They mature in 45 days from planting and she is able to harvest 6 pieces in a week once they attain maturity stage from one plant. They are often touted as a super food because of their high water volume. Moreover, they contain vitamin K and anti-inflammatory compounds that help the eyes. They also promote widening of blood vessels (vasodilatation), which help in preventing hypertension and reduces the risk of heart diseases.
She is specializing in growing two varieties; Green light which is a new variety and a Titan variety. She sources her seeds from a company called U-Farm, who their mission is to bridge the gap for farmers to move from traditional agriculture to more sustainable eco agriculture.
“Besides farming, I own a grocery shop that sells an array of horticultural crops. I did a market survey and discovered which commodities lack in the market. I have been able to consolidate farmers to cultivate the commodities which I buy from them directly and sell to vendors. The price of cucumbers is good with a kilo going for Ksh100 because I majorly do wholesale but I also sell at the grocery for Ksh35 per piece,” she opined.
According to Grace, farming is a full-time occupation which farmers need to pay close attention to in order to get good results. She advices farmers to ensure their farms are supplied with enough water throughout. For her case she has drilled a borehole and installed solar panels which she uses to pump water to her crops.
“My earnings are from farming; the proceeds have enabled me to sustain myself and my family. It also sustains the farm in terms of cost of production and paying employees at the end of every month. Anyone with the intentions of venturing into farming is highly welcomed, there is insatiable demand for food crops in the Kenyan market and we are not able to meet the demand. Currently farming is not the archaic agriculture, it is agribusiness; young people need to invest in this field. You just need to be committed, commitment is what transforms something into reality.” she advises.