Securing an economic future through horticultural farming – and training.

September 26, 2016

Michael Ndiba lives in Bibirioni, Kiambu County, which is 35km from Nairobi in an area dominated by large commercial farms growing horticultural crops such as fruit trees, flowers and vegetables. The lush green landscape offers a sweeping view of the many subsistence farms on small plots of land owing to the ever-growing population in the area.

Michael was once a politician, a career he chose to venture into after some time of being an astute businessman. His father had already introduced him to farming at a tender age, which eventually led him to embark on horticultural farming for his own consumption.

When HortIPMACT started training small holder farmers in his area, he recognised the need to gain knowledge in order to enhance the productivity of his farm. “Having been a farmer for 30 years, I realised that I did not have sufficient knowledge on good agricultural practices. I would spend a lot of money managing pests and diseases, and yet the yields were low,” he said. Before HortIMPACT arrived on the scene, Michael owned one greenhouse where he had planted tomatoes. But lack of knowledge and poor practices resulted in low productivity and poor quality fruits that did not  fetch good prices at the market, reducing his profits. By the time HortIMPACT set up the demonstration site at Mr. Ndiba’s farm, the green house was already quite neglected.

After attending a series of trainings offered by HortIMPACT and partnering companies at the demonstration greenhouse, he decided to try out the lessons learnt in his old greenhouse. After each practical training session, he would repeat the innovative approaches and lessons learnt such as site selection, soil testing, bed setting, spacing, basal fertiliser application, transplanting, drip irrigation and temperature control within the green house. “After 3 months, I made my first bumper harvest of 50 kg and have been harvesting an average of 157kgs every week ever since.” With proper crop management, he anticipates he will be able to harvest tomatoes every week for about 8 months.

Thanks to the HortIMPACT demo green house, Michael has finally managed to grow quality tomatoes and increase productivity in own greenhouse. He feels that the training he received has secured his economic future as a horticultural farmer.

“Today I have become a good farm manager by keeping accurate records and establishing a sound record-keeping system as trained by HortIMPACT. This enables me to manage production, measure yields and mitigate risk,” he said. 

As the chairman of the local farmers group, Michael has been keen to share knowledge he received from HortIMPACT to influence fellow farmers on good agricultural practices both in greenhouse and outdoor production.

The HortIMPACT programme is implemented by a consortium of four partners: Hivos East Africa, SNV, Delphy and Solidaridad, with the Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV) as the lead consortium partner. The programme has supported farmers like Michael to overcome the challenges they face in sustainable production, as well as improving food safety and reducing food losses. The programme has so far trained 3,380 farmers on good agricultural practices in 8 counties in Kenya.

"This article was originally published on Hivos Eastafrica Click here to view the original article"