Lugari is known for its arable land and favorable climate for agriculture, which has for a long time stood as the main means to earn a livelihood.
However, farmers are drifting away from the traditional practice that has been feeding families for decades and are now venturing into other income-generating activities. This is due to the diminishing returns on the farm brought about by the adverse effects of climate change and the unstable agricultural market.
Peter Masinde Simiyu, a small-scale farmer from Mautuma Ward, has found a rare gem in growing sukuma wiki (kales).
Mr. Simiyu, who has been farming the staple vegetable for quite a long time, earned Sh180,000 from his small plot of 50 by 100 in the last two months only, averaging Sh90,000 per month.
To Simiyu, passion and zeal are all he has needed to make it out of this business.
“I bought this small piece of land through farming, and now I have planted sukuma wiki. I have earned an estimated Sh180,000 and it is still flowing,” he says while tending to his vegetables in his small plot located in Munge CBD Village.
Simiyu breaks down his mathematics for us. He has approximately 3,500 kale crops planted throughout the property. Roughly, each crop earns him at least Sh60 in two months, which multiplied by 3000 gives him Sh180,000.
“The remaining 500 sukuma wiki crops are for my family’s food and friends like you who come to visit me,” he says.
He sells the vegetables to local schools, to mama mbogas, and to neighbors who are his regular customers.
Mr. Simiyu reiterates that farming requires maximum concentration and persistence, good knowledge about pest management, an understanding of weather, and adequate skills in planting and taking care of crops.
“For my case, I chose sukuma wiki over sugarcane because I assessed and understood that cane stays too long on the farm and hence its returns are lower,” he said.
Peter is now calling upon his fellow youth to venture into agricultural projects, saying that they are long-term and sustainable.
“This farm has enabled me to buy two cows, which are giving me milk now. I am also educating my children,” he boasts as he goes about the business of plucking dead leaves from his crops, beaming with life.
Tom Lutali is a seasoned scribe based in Lugari Sub-County in Kakamega County who writes human interest stories and sports for WKT.