alexa Kenyan youth urged to venture into lucrative herbs farming - Daily Nation

Kenyan youth urged to venture into lucrative herbs farming

Sunday October 27 2019

Regina Mungai at her mint farm in Nakuru

Regina Mungai at her mint farm in Nakuru. Regina has beaten the odds of concentrating on traditional maize and beans farming and instead, ventured into the rather not-so-common herbs farming. PHOTO | RACHEL KIBUI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

RACHEL KIBUI
By RACHEL KIBUI
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It is early afternoon in Begi village, about seven kilometres from Gilgil town in Nakuru County.

As you drive around this village, nothing prepares you for serious agricultural activities here.

Most farms are characterised by almost dry grass, some of which is sprouting, thanks to the current rains. Other farms have acacia trees, an indication that this is a rather dry place.

But when you approach Little Bloomers Ltd farm, things get totally different. You would be forgiven for thinking that you are in a different place altogether.

Regina's basil greenhouse

Regina shows the basil she grows in one of her greenhouses. PHOTO | RACHEL KIBUI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

HERBS SCENTS

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Here, you are welcomed by a cocktail of sweet scents of herbs, especially that of mint and basil.

Regina Mungai, the director of Little Bloomers Ltd ushers us in.

It is a bee-busy day for her as she has been attending to experts who have come to audit her farm.

But Regina spares some minutes and takes us around the farm.

In two greenhouses, she has planted basil, a medicinal herbal spice. Regina explains that she soon will be harvesting from the green houses as the crop is ready.

Mint growing at Little Bloomers Ltd farm

Mint growing at Little Bloomers Ltd farm. PHOTO | RACHEL KIBUI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

MINT CROP

In a vast area of her six-acre piece of land is a nicely greened, mature mint crop.
“I will be harvesting from here tomorrow,” she says, adding, “I am looking forward to a bumper harvest”.

On the opposite side of the farm, a group of about 10 women are busy weeding for a young mint crop.

Beside the mint, is a budding rosemary plantation, while on another side is a thyme crop, which has already been exhaustively harvested.

Regina has beaten the odds of concentrating on traditional maize and beans farming and instead, ventured into the rather not-so-common herbs farming.

Workers at Little Bloomers Ltd farm.

Workers at Little Bloomers Ltd farm. PHOTO | RACHEL KIBUI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

EXPORTS

“I got an opportunity to export through an exporting company, with which I do contract farming,” says Regina, who runs the farm with her husband, David Mwangai.

Initially, she says, they had tried their luck in tomato farming. After all, they had reasoned, tomato is a crop that sells throughout the year.

But as they would soon discover, tomato was not only labour-intensive, but also had low income.

From one acre of tomatoes, she would make around Sh350,000 while she makes more than double the amount from mint, for example, on a similar size of land.

But Regina, who is rather new in the herbs farming agribusiness, says she wishes to learn more about this venture and concentrate on the export market alone.

This way, she says, she will not only earn more but also employ more than the current 20 people who work in her farm.

Herbs farming agribusiness

Regina, who is rather new in the herbs farming agribusiness, says she wishes to learn more about this venture and concentrate on the export market alone. PHOTO | RACHEL KIBUI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

PARTNERSHIPS

For the next four years, the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (Unido) will be working with partners in promoting various value chains for local, regional and international markets

The East African Community (EAC), European Union (EU) Market Access Upgrade Programme (Markup) will facilitate the enhancement of market access for EAC partner states products to the EU and enhance inter-EAC regional trade.

The project focuses on selected crop value chains in horticulture and nuts subsectors. The programme is implemented at both national and regional levels.

Unido is the implementing partner for Kenya, under the national window, while the Ministry of Trade is the national coordinator and focal point for implementation of Markup in Kenya.

Greenhouses at Little Bloomers Ltd farm

Some of the greenhouses at Little Bloomers Ltd farm. PHOTO | RACHEL KIBUI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

LAUNCH

Unido, together with the Trade ministry will officially launch the programme on Tuesday, October 29 in Nairobi.

The launch is anticipated to bring together stakeholders from the Agriculture ministry, Unido, EU, farmers and exporters among others.

During the launch, stakeholders will be provided with an opportunity to obtain more information on the programme and how each one of them is likely to fit in.

UNEXPLOITED

According to experts, herbs farming is a venture that is yet to be exploited, yet it can create employment and income, especially for young people.

Ruth Munyoro, an agronomist who specialises in herbs, says that the farming is simple as long as the farmer is well prepared.

She advises those who want to venture into herbs farming to study the market before deciding on which crop to start with.

Besides, Ms Munyoro advises young people to take advantage of development partners like the EU and Unido, who are ready to support agriculture locally, regionally and internationally.