Thursday, 25 October 2012

The ups and downs of a peri-urban farmer

 Deep in the heart of Kikuyu district in Kenya, you are likely to meet up with a few small scale farmers busy in their farms or plots. Nevertheless, few possesse the joys of narrating how a hobby turned to a commercial venture like one farmer does.

Meet Patrick Njogu Gitau a peri-urban small scale farmer since 1993. His 2 ½ acre of land, a major source of livelihood for  his wife and children, is situated West of Nairobi approximately 25 km from the City Center. He is indeed a happy man. His eyes can tell it all and as they say the eyes are the windows to the soul

So what lights his face this much?

Nineteen years ago Patrick was just an ordinary subsistence farmer. His farm, besides being a source of produce for his family, played the role of a hobby.  Time and dynamic agricultural ways caught up with him necessitating him to try new ways of farming. That’s when the idea of being a commercial small scale horticulturalist came to mind.

Knowing he didn’t possess the skills needed for his new found initiative, he sought help from the agricultural extension officers in Kikuyu on how to go about it. The extension officers proved quite supportive to his venture in terms of advice.

“But now I am very happy. Kenyan farmers have moved from subsistence economy to commercial business in agriculture” says an elated Patrick.

New technologies

Patrick acknowledges the mushrooming of new technologies as a force behind the success of his venture.  Take for example the green houses which are effectively minimizing water usage in farms, while ensuring maximum profit from the produce.

Despite the joys of his new found venture, he notices the presence of gaps in agricultural research. In return, he makes a polite request to researchers from the international community to get firsthand information from farmers which in turn assists the researchers in addressing the specific needs of the farmers.

“The requirements of this place are not the requirements for another place” Notes an observant Patrick.

Well all is not doomed in the field of agricultural research and development which not only improves the lives of small scale farmers but also feeds an entire nation and frees it from the burden of food insecurity.

His parting shot to the world: “We are always ready for changes.  To change for better not for worse.”
I couldn’t agree no more!

This blogpost was written for the GCARD Blog  by Emmie Kio, one of the GCARD2 social reporters.

Find the original blogpost here :

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