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Young farmer earn a fortune from cabbage farming

A young farmer in Narok County is earning a fortune from Cabbage farming despite many people abandoning the practice due to unfavorable weather patterns and the huge expenses that go with it.

When KNA visited John Wambugu, 38, in his 15 acres cabbage plantation located at Pulunga area, in Narok North Sub-county about 10 kilometers from Narok Town, he was busy tending his farm alongside his five casual workers.   

Wambugu says despite the challenges, he has vowed not to give up, saying cabbage farming is not for the faint hearted as the prices keep on fluctuating depending on the season.

Regardless of the challenges, Wambugu who says he earns good money from Cabbage farming says it has enabled him buy a big piece of land, where he has built his family a decent home, among other money-making projects he is undertaking.

“Yes there are many challenges associated with cabbage farming, but the truth of the matter is that I get a profit of not less than Sh. 100, 000 per acre every season,” he reveals.

He says the secret of cabbage farming is ensuring that every season, the farmer has a piece of land with mature cabbage, in a bid to dominate the market throughout the year.

“I always have cabbages at different stages, just to ensure every season I have mature cabbage despite the prices in the market. The consistency has made me develop a close relationship with the buyers whom I am very keen not to disappoint,” he says.

Cabbage takes only three months to mature, therefore, one can plant cabbage thrice per year on a single acre of land.

The prominent farmer who uses River Narok to irrigate his farm says he purchases his seedlings from Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) in Naivasha, where he gets 10, 000 seedlings, enough for planting one acre at Sh. 20, 000.

“We prefer buying the seedlings from KARI because they are well nurtured and one does not have to waste more time setting up a nursery bed. They give us the best seeds for our region,” he adds.

He says during dry spells like the one being experienced now, he irrigates the cabbage farm at least twice per week from the day the seedlings are transplanted to the day they are harvested.

The farmer observes that failure to irrigate the farm adequately could lead to losses as the cabbage may take a long time to mature and will not gain enough weight to fetch good prices.

“I sell a single cabbage for between Sh. 20 to Sh. 40 depending on the season. When there is less cabbage in the market, like the current season, one cabbage fetches up to Sh. 40,” he adds.

Other expenses that the farmer incurs include hiring one acre of land at Sh. 10, 000 and buying insecticides that are essential for the proper growth of cabbages.

He reveals that he has employed five casual workers who work on the 15 acres piece of land just to ensure everything runs smoothly as expected.

“Each of my employees is paid a monthly wage of Sh. 12, 000 or Sh. 400 per day. Two of the laborers are in charge of water, where they open up fallows for smooth running of water in the shamba while the other three prepare the land for planting and tend to the cabbages until they mature,” he says.

Another huge challenge, the farmer points out, is invasion of both wild and domestic animals on the farms causing huge losses.

“We have hired farms from the Maasai people who are pastoralists by nature, so it is not a wonder to see a huge stock of livestock being driven into your farm. However, the casual laborers are keen in ensuring the animals do not get into the farms,” he said.

Wambugu says that there are zebras and antelopes that wander in the area, especially during dry seasons.

“As a farmer, you have to keep a close look on your farm otherwise you will easily go at a loss,” he adds observing that every successful business has its challenges that the owner should address appropriately.

The farmer lauded Agricultural officers, whom he says sometimes visit his farm, to teach him the new farming skills and just to ensure he was doing the right thing.

“I have been farming for the last ten years, but there are new things that I have to learn because technology is changing the way people do things,” he notes.

When Covid-19 pandemic struck the world last year, Wambugu says, he incurred huge losses as most hotels and institutions that consume most of its products were closed.

Despite the challenge, he maintained the regular planting and now he confesses that buyers have started flocking his farm again.  

“I sell my produce to the local market through brokers. I prefer selling in wholesale rather than selling in pieces so as to get lump sum cash that can be used for another project,” he says.

John Wambugu at his cabbage farm at Pulunga area in Narok North Sub-County

He encourages young people including fresh graduates from colleges and universities, not to waste a lot of time seeking for white-collar jobs but instead venture into farming as the practice too, is fetching income

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