Youth are now appreciating that ‘Wealth is in the soil’
Wycliffe Kyalo Waema (pictured) is a young man of 23 years. But he is also a very serious farmer. When he completed his secondary education in 2009, he decided to stay home and do farming.
“All my brothers had gone to Nairobi, leaving behind a good piece of land,“ he says.
Due to lack of funds, he started planting French beans on only a quarter of an acre using a generator. Then he became a member of Kimwango Horticultural Farmers Association which enabled him to get seeds and advice on farming and marketing. It also enabled him to access loans.
Kamwango, which is supported by MESPT, requires all members to become members of Universal Traders Sacco so as to access loans for farming.
Titus Mbai is the chairman of the Association which covers a sizeable area of Makueni County. Like Kyalo, Mbai, now 60, was interested in farming but he had no capital. Unlike Kyalo, when he completed school, he went to Nairobi and found work.
He raised some money from his employment, bought a generator to pump water and returned home.
“I wanted to be a farmer, and with water now I was ready.”
When he started farming, however, he realized that generators were very expensive to run.
“I needed Shs4,500 every week for diesel alone.”
That is when he learned that he could get an NRM loan to lay pipes and construct storage to get free flow water to his farm.
In his farm which was lush with tall healthy maize plants nearly ready for harvesting, Mbai plants French beans, water melon, green grams, tomatoes, cabbages and passion.
The association is encouraging the youth like Kyalo to take up farming. So far, more than a quarter of its members are youth.
Kyalo’s is a success story that has influenced other youth. Before he started getting UTS loans, his income was only Shs10,000 a month. Now his monthly income is Shs120,000. He plants sukuma, French beans and maize.
“Water is very important for horticulture crop farming. Some crops such as water melons have demand when it is hot and there is no rain,” says Kyalo.
He plans to increase his farm size from the current five acres to 10 acres.
And he is hoping to influence more youth to realize that “wealth is in the soil”.