From the sophisticated weapons to protect the nation to the sharpened tools to feed it, former police Inspector-General David Kimaiyo has now fully settled on the farm.
It has been five years since he left the coveted IG position, but for a man who came under fire for the alleged laxity in the service that saw increased deadly Al-Shabaab attacks during his two-year tenure, that grim past is now in the background. His focus now is on his farm, where he wants to make the most of it.
He insists, though, that it is not money, as such, that is driving his farming ambitions, but the fulfilment of a pastime he has harboured for years.
As the warm winds from the Cherangany Hills descend on the family’s 30-acre farm in Kipsirowa village on the border of Elgeyo-Marakwet and Trans Nzoia counties, Mr Kimaiyo looks contentedly over the investments he has made on every inch of it. And they are legion.
There is not a single part of the land that is idle. And there will not be at any time of the year as the owner has an annual plan for the whole land.
After three decades in the police service, where he worked his way from the lowest rank to the topmost office, Dr Kimaiyo says he has found his retirement more enjoyable looking after his pedigree cows, goats, chickens and maize.
He also has several acres of avocados, cabbages, onions, potatoes and tomatoes.
He joined the service as a constable in 1979 and was appointed the first IG after the present Constitution was passed in 2010.
“Farming is something I have always wanted to do. I did not start investing in this farm recently. I did it gradually.
From the money I got from the service I bought one or two things in preparation of my retirement.”
One of his choice animals is a pedigree cow he bought from allowances he got for being in charge of security during a Comesa meeting in Nairobi in the late 1990s.
FARM IS A WELCOME GIFT
“I named the cow Comesa and I have always ensured subsequent offspring carried that name. Right now I have a Comesa dairy cow here,” says Dr Kimaiyo, stroking a docile Friesian. He runs the farm with his wife, Eunice.
For the 59-year-old, every inch of his farm is a welcome gift for putting up something for local consumption or to sell and make some money. And the farm keeps giving.
His 40 pedigree cows, 15 of which are lactating, generate at least 200 litres of milk every day. Feeds are in plenty and mostly generated from the farm — maize stalks, napier and all manner of grass. This is converted into silage that supplies the farm the whole year.
“In the morning we get at least 120 litres and in the evening it is a bit less. We have a milking machine which handles four cows at a go. We sell the milk to the local dairy, but I am planning to set up my own cooler here,” says Dr Kimaiyo.
“We do our own artificial insemination, treatment and deworming. We have learnt over time how to do it and we no longer need professional service unless it is absolutely necessary,” he says.
Maize farming is the other engagement that he has invested greatly in. From the 50 acres he has planted across various farms in the area he harvests at least 1,000 bags, which he sells to the National Cereals and Produce Board.
He urges the government to increase maize prizes so as to encourage more farmers to plant the country’s staple as high costs are discouraging many.
He says limiting subsidised fertiliser to a few farmers is hurting farmers and might lead to reduced production of the cereal. “I require at least 100, 5okg bags of fertiliser. But NCPB said I only qualified for 40, so I was forced to buy the rest at market rates, which is very expensive,” he reveals.
GIVES HIM SATISFACTION
He has also invested in potato farming and speaks fondly of a variety called Rudolph, which he praises for its quality.
“I expect between Sh350,000 and 400,000 from the one-half-acre farm here. I got this variety from a firm in Nakuru and it is very good. I think I am the only farmer with this variety here. I sell Sh30 per kilo,” says the ex-IG.
He sells onions and tomatoes to the local supermarkets. He recently planted 240 Hass avocado trees that he says are for testing the waters before he goes large-scale so as to reap from the current global avocado craze.
For now, his maize and potato plantations, as well as 50 goats and more than 400 indigenous chickens, afford him a comfortable life in retirement.
Dr Kimaiyo says besides the money and the fact that he gets all his family’s nutrition needs from the farm, the venture gives him satisfaction. He has eight full-time workers and several casuals who work when they are needed.
It is not all rosy, though, as there are years he lost all his money after maize prices went awry, but he urges patience.
To be successful on the farm, he advises, one needs to be close to the venture to ensure all is fine.
Having left all government engagements, including the chairmanship of the Kenyatta National Hospital board, which ended recently, Dr Kimaiyo is now fully focused on his farm and other private engagements. He divides his time between the farm and the nearby African Inland Church, where he is an elder.
And he has a parting shot for career employees: “Once you get a job, prepare immediately for your retirement because it is something inevitable. This is what I did and I am happy for it.”