By CHARLES WOKABI firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted Wednesday, February 29 2012 at 17:22
Agriculture has for a long time been the lifeblood of the Kenya’s growth engine raising about 30 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product.
As such, the industry offers a huge chance for both seasoned, and budding investors who are willing to ditch the traditional misconceptions that farming is just a dirty and unprofitable venture for the rural folks.
The young Kenyans featured here are good illustrations of this fact, and act as the latest reminder that the agriculture industry can hand you great success.
However, like any other business venture, making it in agriculture requires massive research and planning before betting your hard earned millions on it.
Fortunately, in Kenya today, there many firms at the helm spearheading research and advisory services in the industry. Among them is the government’s Kenya Agricultural Research Institute. Financial institutions willing to fund such ventures have also increased over time.
According to those who have walked the path before, the key factor to consider before investing in agriculture is mastering the output channels of your produce.
Take for example, if one invests in horticulture, you need to have a destined market for the produce by the time you harvest, lest you run into huge losses.
According to Mr Martin Kinyua, a passion fruits farmer in Meru, the market is the most important element of the whole practice because its availability dictates whether you continue, expand or call it a day with your venture.
“If I harvest my passion fruits, and they end up rotting in the stores or I am forced to give them away because there are no buyers, this simply sounds the untimely death of my venture,” he says
He says he learnt this lesson in the hard way when he tried to farm wheat on a 40-acre piece of land. The produce’s slow uptake ran him into a bone rattling loss of over Sh200,000. He had to quit.
However, after conducting an intensive research in passion fruit farming, he now rakes in millions in the venture despite it being small-scale. He now plans to expand the venture because the supply is still by far short of meeting the market demand of the product.
Ms Nancy Kibe, an experienced farmer and chairperson of the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Lari branch, says it is of invaluable importance that you assess the market for your products long before you harvest.
She produces potatoes in large scale from her Nakuru farm and vegetables in Kiambu where she also runs a private boarding primary school. She is always reading about her crops.
She manages to provide food for her 200 boarding pupils by supplying the school with enough food from her farms. She is now planning to invest in large-scale pig farming by the end of the year, and she has started researching on the same.
According to her, getting a mentor who is succeeding in a similar enterprise as the one you want to start is imperative as he or she will offer you guidance from an informed perspective.
You also need to have alternative market options as a fall-back plan in case your target market declines.