When most Kenyans hear of the Big Four Agenda, their minds spiral to huge factories in designated industrial areas, large housing estates, hospitals and as to food security, huge tracts of land covered with wheat, barley, tea or in rare cases other cash crops like coffee, tobacco or sisal.
When it comes to food stuff, they think of large trucks of land filled with maize in Trans Nzoia County and on milk production they still think of Rift valley where daily cattle are in abundance. Vegetable farming rarely crosses people’s minds and when it does they think of horticultural crops that are mainly produced for export.
However, this is not the case with a Chuka University student who decided to not only seek for some income while still pursuing his education, but hopes to contribute to Big4Agenda in his own small way.
To most Kenyans, lack of capital is a major discouragement to pursue business ventures but with determination Linus Ndung’u has managed to earn enough for paying rent and food for his upkeep besides supporting his younger brother under National Youth Service (NYS) cohorts program.
Ndung’u ventured into farming three months ago, shortly after completing his attachment at Kenya News Agency office in Chuka town. He started with Sh5, 000 that he used to lease a quarter acre of piece of land at Sh3,000 annually and buying few farm inputs among them, fertilizers and pipes that he has since been using to pump water from a nearby stream.
He first planted 4,000 seedlings before a kin to the lesser of the land recently offered him another quarter acre parcel at Sh2,000 annually and also gave him compost manure that he says came as a big boost to his farming.
He wakes up every day at 6 am, hurriedly prepares himself either for a lecturer or spending the whole day on a half-an-acre kales farm, about six kilometres away from where he lives, the place he refers to as his office.
When lectures run from morning to evening, the undergraduate fourth year student of communications and media considers jogging to the farm to ensure that everything is in order before rushing back for his lectures. The 23-year-old who hails from Tetu constituency in Nyeri County is sometimes forced to wake up as early as 5 am, especially when his first lecture kicks off at 7am.
“My lectures determine when I come to the farm but sometimes I have to wake up earlier than I normally do to rush here and check things before proceeding for lectures,” Ndung’u told KNA at the farm in Muthenge village.
On the way to the farm, Ndung’u passes by various business premises, while holding a note book, to get orders from his frequent customers who he sometimes delivers kales to or they pick at the nearby Muthenge market where he usually sells from a Shed.
The entrepreneur says his broader reason for the farming is to help the government achieve President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four Agenda, especially in food security adding that he is not quitting the business anytime soon.
To him, an idea must precede an action, noting that lack of local supplier of kales in the market prompted him into farming that he hopes to expand further and be a national supplier to as far as Nairobi County.
“I realized a gap after noting that the local mama mboga was buying Sukuma from as far as Runyenjes in the neighbouring Embu County and thought of filling it,” he noted, adding that most of the local farmers are not consistent in their farming.
He is currently selling the vegetables to the villagers, business people and some hotels earning quite some good cash ranging from Sh8, 000 to Sh15, 000 per month.
“Though my parents help pay my fees, I no longer call them asking for money to pay my rent or buy food among other things,” Linus said.
On where he learnt the skills from, Ndung’u told KNA that he has grown up in a family that relies on farming and got to learn the ideal farming methods, including how to spray the plants from his parents.
He recalls a time when he helped his parents pay for his year two semester fees from the Sukuma wiki returns.
“I knew most of the things before cultivating the land and planting the seedlings and even took soil sample to an expert for testing,” he said adding that his father, Abraham King’ori has been a great inspiration to him.
“My father used to tell me how difficult life was, as he grew up but he pushed harder and managed to pay school fees for his siblings, thereby challenging me to work extra harder to live a better life,” he added.
He often frequents the internet to look for market prices before he arrives at the one to sell his kales at, but is currently selling at Sh20 per kilo. Ndung’u is also preparing an area around the farm for fish rearing and stresses that the sector is also not exploited locally.
Initially, he says, most of his college mates discouraged him but that did not deter him from proceeding with what he terms as ‘idea that not any student would embrace’.
By David Mutwiri