Patrick Chomba, alias Kisasa, is a well-known person in his Kabare ward having been elected to represent that area in the Kirinyaga County Assembly.
Chomba who has put up his home at Kutus says he vied and won the Kabare ward MCA position on a popular platform that he would improve the livelihood of the people.
The MCA said he pledged that upon being elected he would at least make sure he provided a dairy goat for every household in the area of his representation.
The ward leader said he however had a second thought last year when the county government declined to give the much anticipated bursary, leaving the beneficiaries with little hope of furthering their education.
“This helplessness led many people to come knocking on my door asking for help which I was not in a position to provide.
As their leader I was challenged and had to come up with a way of making sure the occurrence of the bursary request would not be an issue with the people again.
I came up with this idea of providing residents with Hass avocado seedlings which I target to provide for every household in the ward,” he said.
Already we have distributed over five thousand seedlings to members of the community mostly those who come asking for bursaries.
“In store we have over 50,000 seedlings to distribute during this rainy season,” Chomba said
He said the approach of distribution has however changed this time targeting the school going pupils from class five and six in all the public schools at Kabare ward.
Chomba said every pupil will get at least two avocado seedlings which by the time they get to secondary schools, the tree will be producing fruits that can be sold to support the students’ financial needs.
“I in the programme I will personally be issuing every class five and six child with two seedlings every year, by the time he or she is admitted in secondary school the student can be able to pay part of his or her school fees from the tree produce, thus minimizing the dependency and eradicating poverty,” he said
The ward representative said in a few years time, those in the programme may no longer require support from the bursary fund.
He said he went for the Hass avocado due to the availability of the market.
“The county government has assured Kirinyaga county residents over the huge market of avocado in China, and therefore the need to grow more,” he said.
Chomba said he is also encouraging the members of his community to make sure at least every house hold plants over ten avocado trees for their future livelihood.
He said the type of the seedling he is giving to the beneficiaries is improved and grows at a shorter period between a year or two and gives the most production in the third year.
“All a farmer is required to do is to make sure the tree has enough manure and water then leave the tree to grow,
therefore not requiring much attention from the farmer.
Hass, Chomba said is also a darling in the market in that it takes a longer period of time before ripening and going to waste, thus getting to the consumers in good state.
Chomba wants to lead from the front and has intentions of planting over twenty thousand seedlings for his own.
The dream is however derailed by shortage of land in his place of residence where he has currently managed only to plant some few trees.
He has also had a challenge of water shortage which is an essential requirement in the maintenance of the avocado nursery at his home.
In his avocado nursery, he has engaged 15 workers who carry out planting and grafting of the seedlings in readiness for distribution.
Chomba has also engaged five people for the distribution of the seedlings to schools and for educating the members of the community who would wish to learn the art of grafting seedlings.
“It is free of charge and even schools from around are now coming to learn from our nursery here at Kutus,” he said.
He said he gets his avocado seeds from the members of the community before they are prepared for germination and later for grafting.
The MCA says he was involved in bringing together avocado farmers from his ward in the formation of Avocado Growers’ Cooperative Society Limited which is now able to market their produce directly to Kakuzi limited.
This has improved their earning in that they were able to get rid of middlemen who previously exploited the farmers paying them pea nuts for their fruits.
“Middle men have been exploiting the farmers and buying their produce at a throw away price. This is what necessitated the need to call all the farmers together and educate them over the losses they have been incurring when they sell their avocados to brokers,” he said.
Chomba’s parting shot, “my key focus is to help my people to be self reliant just as I promised during my campaigns.”
By Irungu Mwangi