Posted Thursday, March 29 2012 at 00:00
After 17 years teaching in various primary schools in Baringo County, Susan Chesiyna, 42, left her job for greenhouse agriculture. Little did she know that the decision she made eight years ago would be a turning point in her life.
Having researched on greenhouse farming, she invested in her five-hectare farm at her Kiamunyi home in Nakuru County. The proceeds have been overwhelming.
When Money visited the farm recently, we found her tending her tomato plants.
She started the business using a Sh400,000 bank loan she took jointly with her husband. She used the money to buy a greenhouse kit, drilled a bore hole, bought tomato seeds, and a friend helped her to set up four greenhouses on her farm.
“This is when I discovered that I could do better in business than anything else. I went ahead and resigned from teaching. I’m happy the sacrifice I made is paying off,” she told Money.
Ms Chesiyna’s greenhouses measure 80 by 100 metres each. She made over Sh500,000 in the past two months alone from the sale of tomatoes.
The handsome income is set to triple as she plans to expand her venture by ploughing back the profits into the farm. Apart from tomatoes, the former teacher augments her income by growing onions, pepper, and other vegetables.
She employs 10 people, whom she pays between Sh5,000 and 10,000, depending on their skills.
It has not been smooth sailing, though. The farmer cites high initial capital for putting up a greenhouse as a major hurdle, but she advises upcoming investors to use locally available materials to cut costs.
“Water shortage, especially due to the dry spell, is also a major setback,” said Ms Chesiyna.
It is also prudent to carefully research the target market. So far she has established contracts with many supermarkets in Nakuru town as well as learning institutions to supply vegetables.
She supplies Woolmart, Gilanis, and Ukwala retail chains. Kabarak University and Kabarak High School also get their kitchen produce from her farm.
The family business has also diversified into animal husbandry. Ms Chesiyna keeps more than 500 exotic and indigenous chickens.
On average, each slaughtered chicken sells at between Sh800 to Sh1,000. She also runs a real estate firm, Nasha Company, which was funded by income from farming.
She too urges other people to venture into greenhouse agriculture noting that it fetches a lot of income from a small piece of land.