From eggs to chia and flour, there is money in agribusiness

Friday July 25 2014

Prof Bebe and Prof Ondura. Do you have any question or enquiry on agribusiness, marketing, logistics, processing, innovation, and technology? Our pool of experts from Egerton University will respond to your questions with proper advice. Please send your questions to: [email protected] Read us online at PHOTO | NATION


My wife and I are keen to start commercial farming. We have a five-acre fenced farm in Kitengela (black cotton soil).

The farm is serviced with a three phase power line. We have commenced the process of drilling a borehole and the hydro survey report is almost complete. We need help in the following areas:

1. How do we plan our entire five acres for high value crops and poultry?

2. Which are the most favourable crops in terms of high returns given the climate and soil type?

3. What secondary crops can come in handy without interfering too much with the primary crops?


4. How do we go about with irrigation once the borehole is running, that is method and planning?

5. How do I effectively market the various farm produce?
Reuben Kisigwa


For commercial purposes, you need to plan your piece of land effectively for maximum gains.

This requires sound technical advice on what to plant, where and what size of land is to be allocated to which crop. This can only be effectively done on site.

I recommend that you liaise with the Department of Crops, Horticulture and Soils, Egerton University for further information and arrangement on how this exercise can be accomplished.

Sylvans Ochieng Ochola, Crops, Horticulture and Soils Department. [email protected]



I would like to start farming and would love the expertise of agriculture officers on which crops grow well in my area.



Different crops require different agro-ecological zones. Unfortunately, you have not informed us the region where you want to grow your crops.

Please kindly provide us with the information and we will promptly provide the technical advice you need.

Seeds of Gold Team

Egerton University



There is a new technology for planting seeds that does not require ploughing. This can be hired from Egerton University. How much do they charge? And can it work for a farmer in Machakos?
Samuel Nguti

The cost of hiring the machinery is Sh1,800 per acre. It is possible to hire the machine from Green Agro in Egerton University. However, the cost will be slightly higher because of the distance, since there is version factor depending on the distance per kilometre.

Sylvans Ochieng Ochola, Crops, Horticulture Department

[email protected]



Kindly give me information on incubator technology, in particular, on what humidity and temperature are best for hatching eggs.

Fred Obimbo

Incubation of eggs takes 21 days. From 0 to 18th day, the temperature should be 37.8 degrees Celsius and humidity between 60 to 70 per cent and from 19th to 21st day, the temperature should be reduced to 37.5 degrees Celsius and humidity increased to 70 to 80 per cent.

It is important to note that the temperature and humidity setting of the incubator are highly dependent on the climatic conditions of the area you are operating in.

Hot humid areas like the Coast or Nyanza region will require lower temperatures (a degree lower than the above mentioned) and humidity).

Sophie Miyumo,
Animal Science Department,
Egerton University,
[email protected]



I am Enoka.

I have three acres in Muhoroni, and I would like to start farming but my problem is I do not have money to start the business. Please can you advise on what to do?

You first need to identify the enterprise you want to engage in and from the expected profit margins, a range of credit sources can be explored.

Ideally, you may want to source credit from an institution that has special products for agricultural sector given that the returns are seasonal.

Agricultural Finance Corporation is one such institution and some of the farmers’ cooperatives or saccos are the best. It is critical though that you first get clear with your business idea, which will give you a picture of how much amount of money you need.

Jackson Langat, Agribusiness Department,

Egerton University

We are a fully registered community based organisation in Kaloleni, Kilifi County.

We are currently involved in commercial farming though in small-scale due to lack of appropriate farming inputs and seed capital.

We bought four acres where we intend to put up a grain storage facility and engage in serious farming.

Group members will be required to donate at least an acre each for the project. Currently, we have 33 members, which translates to 33 acres that we are sure will produce proper harvest. We require Sh500,000 to start the project.

Kindly advise us how best we can get money from your organisation.

Emmanuel Angore
Project coordinator

What never came out clearly is the specific crop or animal enterprises your group has interest in and whether you already have a viable business plan.

For a start, you must consult experts on which enterprises you should invest in, and come up with a clear roadmap (plan) towards the realisation of such a vision.

Once you have a feasible plan, you may approach any of the various financial institutions for credit or approach the county government, CDF and NGOs.

Our university is willing to partner with your group in the process of developing viable proposals for submission to grant agencies.

For more information and consultation, contact the Department of Crops, Horticulture and Soils on [email protected]



I want to produce and sell flour. Is there a device that tests moisture content in cereals’ flour meant for human consumption? How do I preserve the flour for long shelf-life? 

Esther Gachambi

Observance of critical moisture content (MC) for safe storage of food grains is a prerequisite for successful grain milling business.

There are portable digital grain moisture testers capable of giving instant and accurate actual grain MCs.

It is a requirement by millers that cereal grains have MC readings not more than 12 per cent at the time of milling. The milled flour should be stored in dry environments free from direct contact with moisture.

Seeds of Gold Team
Egerton University



I am interested in farming chia. Do you know farmers who are growing these seeds so I may visit their farms?


Chia seeds (Salvia hispanica L.; Mint/Lamiaceae family) is a herb that is native to South America, which takes 120 days (four months) under full sun and moderate soil fertility to mature.

Chia seeds are known for their enormous health benefits to human beings such as weight loss, reduction of blood pressure, richest plant source of Omega-3 fats (protects against arthritis and heart diseases) and control blood sugar (useful for diabetics management).

Being a plant that is yet to be fully adapted in Kenya, the best way forward is to follow the laid down phytosanitary procedures, with the help of Kephis to source quality seeds from any of the major producing countries and run adaptation performance and quality trials locally.

This will generate appropriate location specific for good agricultural practices for this herb. Our university is more than willing to partner with you and other interested parties to work on this process.

For more information and consultative forum, feel free to contact the Department of Crops, Horticulture and Soils on

[email protected]


I would like expert advice on how best to utilise my one-acre plot on the outskirts of Nyahururu Town. Water is in plenty, and soils are good.

We wish to advise that you arrange to come to Egerton University for one-on-one consultation regarding options available for optimal utilisation of your land given that you have plenty of water and fertile soil. For more information and consultation on how to make enterprise choices, feel free to contact the Department of Crops, Horticulture and Soils on [email protected]



My name is Samson Angore from Ministry of Agriculture, Mombasa County.  Kindly connect me to the farmer who sells worms.

I need to buy 10kg and I am ready to pay for the transport cost if necessary using Kenya Airways.

Please note that I will use them as demonstration in Mombasa international show, hence if the farmer himself is willing to come to the show, the Ministry of Agriculture will be ready to fund the expenses.

EDITOR: Peter Kanyagia is available on 0713 032797.



I was impressed with vetiver grass. This is a wonder plant which Kenyans should learn a lot from Caleb Omollo’s good work and willingness to share. I reside in Rongo and would like you to have his contacts.

Tony Lewa

EDITOR: Omollo can be reached on 0714943355.



I am a farmer in Muhoroni rearing chicken. One of my biggest costs is keeping the chicks warm. I currently use electricity. I read with appreciation the article appearing last week about Benedict Makau who sells clay brooder heaters. Could you kindly link me with him.

Sylvester Mboya

EDITOR: Makau can be reached on 0729725720, [email protected]



Help me with the telephone contacts of farmers Alfred Opinya and Jackson Njuguna who are making chicken feeds.

EDITOR: Please reach Opinya on 0723619238 and Njuguna on 0723037754.



I would like to get contacts of Gerard Besseling of Fleckvieh breed. It was an interesting story.

Dr Cherutich

EDITOR: Please reach Besseling’s Genetics East Africa Limited on 0712095555.



I liked the strawberry farming story. This is really moving and quite encouraging to realise such a plant can make a good source of livelihood. I would like to have full address of George Muturi.

Janet Mwende

Deputy Head of Exports
Spedag Interfreight Kenya Ltd

EDITOR: Talk to Muturi on 0723213185.



Please let me know how I can contact Fr Mbiko, the grape farmer.

Timothy Gatara, PhD

I desperately would like to grow grapes. I want to know how I can get the vines.

EDITOR: Talk to Fr Mbiko through Susan Karuru on 0714445631.