Migori County faces unprecedented demand for horticultural crops, amid acute shortage of the product in local markets.
However, one farmer, Maurice Odera stands tall in the area as an upcoming farmer who has seen a silver lining in horticulture.
Mr. Odera from Wi Pith Kabiero village in Central Kanyamkago location in Uriri Sub County, braved a journey of nearly 300 kilometers to the all fertile land region of Ramogi village in Suna East Constituency, in what would mark the beginning of a new life upon migrating from his sleepy home within the sugar-belt.
“I migrated to Ramogi village four years ago and immediately picked on a new line of farming horticultural crops away from growing sugarcane which was not giving me any good income,” he told KNA during an interview Wednesday.
He says the people from his original home area have grown sugarcane from many years, but have never seen tangible benefits from such farming, which is so involving, expensive and with an un-promised returns.
In 2018, he and his wife ventured seriously into farming tomatoes, onions, passion fruits and all types of vegetable. They have since been increasing their farm acreage under the crops every year.
“From a paltry quarter acre that we started with, we are now doing a total of over 20 acres, scattered in all parts of Suna East Sub–County,” said Mr. Odera with a broad smile as he confirmed a good income ever year.
He disclosed that about Sh1 million lands into his pocket every year from farming these crops.
Consequently, farmers from Migori have been advised to embrace horticulture farming as a sure means to ripe maximum wealth.
The region’s horticulture development authority (HCDA) branch manager Mr Lawrence Wambura says that such crops like passion fruits, vegetables and tomatoes ensured good earnings to farmers since they are sold on a daily or weekly basis.
Speaking in Migori town, Wambura noted that such crops also have ready markets throughout the year in the country and abroad as opposed to other farm products like maize and sugarcane.
He regretted the apathy that the local farmers hold towards horticulture farming, saying they had not learnt from the numerous problems they have been encountering in maize and tobacco farming in the past years.
The official explained that the production of fruits and vegetables was still very low in the region because almost 99 per cent of the local farmers engage in planting sugarcane, tobacco and maize in large scale.
The region depends on fruits and vegetables from far flung areas of Kericho, Nakuru and Kisii, as well as from neighbouring countries, Uganda and Tanzania.
“Horticulture fruits have a wider market which spreads from Nairobi to Mombas, and from Kampala to Dar-Es-salaam in the neighbouring countries Uganda and Tanzania. You better grab this opportunity to put much of your land under fruits and vegetable growing,” he told the local farmers.
He said the crops can be produced in large scale by embracing the latest technologies in horticulture farming through irrigation, greenhouse and shade nets farming.
By George Agimba