When tobacco companies scaled down their operations in parts of the county especially Kuria region a few years ago, farmers lost interest in cash crop farming.
Many who depended on the cash crop for their livelihood resorted to maize and sweet potato farming.
For years, they grappled with low output and could hardly make enough to cater for their basics.
But all that changed with the advent of horticultural farming in 2019. Benson Mwita, who resorted to cabbage farming says he has never looked back.
“This is the new craze among farmers who used to grow tobacco. Unlike the latter, cabbages take only months to mature and the profits are handsome.”Benson Mwita
The crops that many residents had deemed unsuitable for the area turned out to be lucrative after Arista Life Science, an international organization dealing with crop research, came to the area in 2017.
“They gave us assorted seeds that we used as samples but the produce turned out to be good. That’s when several farmers ordered more input,”Mwita
Mr Peter Chacha, another farmer, has turned his 10 acres into a thriving vegetable haven.
Unlike Mr Mwita, who had been a tobacco farmer, Mr Chacha worked at the Delamere farm before he resigned to try his hand at agribusiness.
His land, near the Kendege Technical Training Institute, lies green with cabbages planted in neat rows.
A group of young people help Mr Mwita on the farm, relying on the adjacent Migori River to water his plants.
“Last season, I grew a variety of crops such as tree tomatoes, cucumbers, garlic, onions, kales, watermelons, sunflowers and beetroot. This season, however, I have delved fully into cabbage and kale farming.”Peter Chacha Marwa
Armed with Sh 200,000 savings he approached area MP Marwa Kitayama to help him partner with Kendege Technical Training Institute, which made available the vast land for cultivation.
He then rallied a group of youths and together they kicked off the project.
The venture, he said, has revolutionized his life, earning on average “between Sh7,000 and Sh10,000 from the farm just from vegetables with prices shooting up during the dry season.”
He says that a 90kg bag of mature cucumber and georgettes fetched Sh9000 and he can harvest as many as 200 bags from his vast farm.
He supplies kales and cabbages to neighboring schools and traders from as far away as Tanzania.
Students taking courses in agriculture at Kendege Technical also visit the farm for practical lessons.
“We are targeting youths who have passion for agribusiness and we are ready to offer extension services to them as long as they are willing to learn,” he said.
He participated in the Nairobi International Trade Fair in 2019, emerging second overall and putting Migori County in the limelight.
But the farmers are concerned about high costs of input and are banking on the government to regulate the prices.
“We would wish to venture into large-scale farming as we have huge parcels but the prices of inputs, especially fertilizers, are a major drawback that the government should look into.”Chacha Mwita
Even with the current government subsidies, most farmers are still unable to acquire the much needed commodity owing to their humble beginnings.