Farming is one enterprise marred by uncertainties such that many people quit even before they start. For one to make it big in agribusiness, they must embrace optimism and walk with it. This means the ability to accept when things are not going well, seeking expert advice in good time and taking the necessary adjustments if need be.
Paul Mugo is one person when he encountered uncertainties while farming potatoes and carrots in Ol-Kalau made a paradigm shift, relocated to Gilgil and ventured in what he calls ‘unique and premium produce fit for the market’.
His farm, Arberdare Fresh Produce supplies fresh produce to supermarkets while also supplying to other markets such as Nairobi and Nakuru. The farm’s main produce is Brussel sprouts but also cultivates celery, lettuce, green paper, cauliflowers and broccoli. These vegetables are fetching good price, for instance a punnet of Brussel sprouts is retailing at Ksh 250, making him laugh all the way to the bank.
Brussels sprout is a member of the Gemmifera group of cabbages, grown for its edible buds. The leafy vegetables are typically 1.5–4.0 cm in diameter and resemble tiny cabbages. Brussels sprout has long been popular in Brussels, Belgium, from where it gained its name. They are used for making salads and extraction of vegetable smooth juice which is fondly used for detoxifying the body.
Before venturing on these premium products, he carried out market survey and established that the demand for the vegetables was high. He researched about the advantages of the produce and their compatibility with his growing zone and also did a feasibility study not to fall prey to market uncertainties like the once that befell him in OlKalau.
He buys and propagates his own seeds.His crop is well tended by 3 permanent farmhands and 3 casuals. They have to keep away weeds that can act as alternate host to pests and diseases. Arberdare Fresh Produce currently operates two leased farms. The first farm is estimated to be 2 acres in size and the second farm is estimated to be 5 acres in size. “We have been successfully planting and harvesting produce on this farm since the start of our operations in 2017. We expanded our operations into the second farm in 2019,”Mugo stated.
His journey to farming began after graduating from college and ‘tarmacking’ for a long time in search of job opportunities to no avail. This led him to give a shot on farming. “I began with carrots and potatoes which are commonly grown in Nyandarua but price uncertainties and the extremely cold weather made me to rethink and I stumbled on this. I tried growing them in OlKalau but the cold weather adversely affected them hence I had to relocate to a place with higher temperatures and a reliable source of water to achieve a good production,” Mugo narrated.
Farming needs all attention just like what is required in office; you need to be involved. Long gone are the days you could make a phone call to inquire from your farmhands which activity needs to be done and at what time? Anyone wishing to delve into farming and has this archaic mentality then I am sorry you won’t succeed,in farmind ”Mugo said. For him he has fully embraced farming and will not go around searching for employment.
Vegetables are one of the crops that are relatively easy to grow compared to many other crops making it advantageous especially to smallholder farmers. It is one of the silent money makers in Kenya. In a country made up of over 40 million people, whose major common denominator is the use of vegetables in preparing their food, vegetable farming is indeed very profitable.
Have you ever considered vegetable farming as an option for building a business?
The term ‘Farmer’ used to be heavily associated with poverty and illiteracy. But that was then, not now anymore, farmers especially one farming at medium and large scale size are becoming the richest people.