He learnt about farming at an early age. However, it was not until 2016 that Mr Patrick Nzioka ventured into organic vegetable growing.
“I grew up in a family that adored farming. It is through my mother’s guidance that I have achieved this,’’ he says.
Mr Nzioka, who studied Mass Communication, quit professional hustles and jumped into the murky waters of farming in Lower Kabete, a few kilometres from the city.
He grows traditional vegetables organically: From amaranthus, black night shade, mrenda, sageti, miroo, kunde to pumpkin leaves.
Mr Nzioka makes ends meet by feeding his neighbourhood as well as Nairobi city residents.
He grows spinach, kale, red and white cabbage, cucumber, courgette, capsicum, hot chily, lettuce, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, herbs and several spices.
He also has coriander, parsley, dill, rosemary, sage, tarragon, mint and basil on the farm.
“I did not have much for a start. I bought collard sukumawiki and spinach and used the proceeds to purchase more seeds,’’ Mr Nzioka, who is in his early 30s, says.
Initially, he grew the vegetables in sacks but he has leased land in Machakos County as his business expands.
Mr Nzioka says he ventured into organic farming because he wanted to see Kenyans eat healthy.
“Many Nairobians do not eat healthy, clean or nutritious food. My intention was to bring back the culture of healthy eating,’’ he adds.
CLOSE TO SOURCE OF WATER
Before planting, Mr Nzioka prepares compost manure for use at the farm.
He also uses cow, rabbit, goat and chicken droppings as manure.
The farmer buys seeds from various parts of the country.
“I source most of the traditional vegetables from western Kenya. The rest can be found in agrovet shops across the city and during farmers’ workshops and seminars. I propagate most of the herbs to increase the harvest,’’ he says.
The young farmer relies on rain water to grow the vegetables and herbs.
Most of his customers come from Nairobi though he adds that he has begun getting orders from other parts of the country.
Caterpillars, aphids and whiteflies are some of the pests which attack his crops but he has found a way of containing them.
“I practise clean farming. This makes it very hard for diseases and pests to attack the crops,’’ Mr Nzioka says.
Despite agribusiness being lucrative, the farmer says he faces many challenges.
The first is getting land near Nairobi where the bulk of his customers come from. He prefers land that is close to a source of water such as a river.
The other is transporting his produce to the market.
His advice to potential organic farmers? “Carry out research first,” he says.
He hopes to open a store where he will buy and sell organically grown food.