Dr Rael Taiy of Lemok village in Kapseret constituency, Uasin Gishu County, has been working to dispel the notion that farming is for those who lack jobs.
The 52-year-old former employee of the Ministry of Agriculture, who holds a doctorate in agricultural and rural innovation studies, agronomy, livestock production and extension from Egerton University, has used her expertise to develop her farm, turning it into a model where other farmers flock for lessons.
Her 10-acre farm hosts cabbages, indigenous vegetables, carrots, chilli, beans, plantains, sweet potatoes and fruits such as passion and avocados. She also keeps chickens, dairy goats and cattle.
Dr Taiy says her interest in agriculture started when she was in high school.
“As members of the Agriculture Club at Kapsabet Girls, we were encouraged to plant crops and the school would buy them from us. I realised then that farming could be an income earner,” says Dr Taiy.
Years later, in her indigenous chicken agribusiness, she buys day-old chicks at Sh50 from trusted dealers, then rears them for sale at between two weeks and two months for Sh100 and Sh250 respectively.
“During the period, I ensure that the chicks are vaccinated, dewormed and intensively fed to speed up growth and good health,” she says.
VENTURE INTO FARMING
According to the farmer, she only brings in chicks when she has received an order as opposed to rearing them without guarantee for a market. She sells up to 200 chicks in a month.
The farmer’s dairy venture is another important income earner. She rears several goats and seven cows in a semi-zero grazing system, where she grazes them for hours every day, saving on costs.
Four of the seven Friesian cows produce an average of 15 litres a day each and the Toggenburg goats three litres each. She sells the cow milk at Sh50 a litre to her neighbours while she consumes the goat milk.
Dr Taiy further keeps tilapia and catfish in two separate ponds, with the water in the ponds coming from a borehole and rainwater, which she harvests.
The ponds, measuring 11 by 8m each and which cost him Sh40,000 each to build, have a capacity of 2,000 fish, with the farmer harvesting from each at least twice a year. She sells the fish at between Sh300 and Sh400.
Dr Taiy is savouring the benefits of mixed farming, where she intercrops her plants to save on land and for the crops to benefit from each other, and use manure from her animals as fertiliser and in the ponds.
The farmer employs two workers and a host of casuals, and regularly provides technical and managerial support to them.
She advises young professionals to venture into farming, adding that if practised with passion and the right approach, farming is a meaningful income earner.