In a world where the youth are often drawn to urban landscapes and modern professions, Ceciliah Wangui stands out as a shining example.
At the age of 28, she has chosen to defy societal norms, finding her passion and livelihood in the fertile soil of her rented farm in Mutaratara, Kikuyu, Kiambu County, Kenya.
Ceciliah’s journey into the world of farming began three years ago when her initial attempts with cabbages and tomatoes in her hometown, Laikipia County, did not yield the results she desired.
The cabbages she planted on three-quarters of an acre only managed to cover the initial investment, while the tomatoes, although not a complete failure, demanded an enormous amount of hard work.
In 2019, Ceciliah’s perspective on farming took a dramatic turn when she met a fellow church member in Kiambu who was renowned for being a skilled mixed farmer, especially in growing managu, a leafy green vegetable, in large quantities.
“He is a skilled mixed farmer, especially in growing managu in large quantities, and his explanations convinced me when I visited his farm,” she explains.
After some perseverance, she managed to secure an acre of land.
The initial investment into her farming endeavor cost her a total of Sh16,500, a sum that covered various aspects of her operation, including the farm rent, fertilizers, seeds, and labor.
A mere month later, Ceciliah reaped the rewards of her hard work, pocketing more than Sh11,000 in profit.
Her determination and belief in the potential of farming were beginning to pay off.
However, farming, like many ventures, is fraught with challenges.
Ceciliah’s second attempt involved cultivating managu and cowpeas.
Unfortunately, her managu crop was washed away by floods, and the cowpeas suffered due to the morning and evening dew.
This setback led to an estimated loss of Sh43,000. But Ceciliah remained steadfast and unwavering in her commitment to farming, refusing to be disheartened by the challenges.
Three years down the line, Ceciliah is now reaping the rewards of her hard work and unwavering perseverance. She currently cultivates managu on three-quarters of an acre, carefully divided into plots measuring 24 by 6 meters each, ensuring a consistent supply to her buyers.
Each of her ten plots consistently earns her between Sh15,000 and Sh20,000, with the production cost averaging around Sh5,000.
Her buyers, who are wholesale customers from Dagoretti, Kawangware, and Kangemi markets, visit her farm directly to make their purchases. Ceciliah sells her produce based on the size of the portion and the costs she incurred.
Despite her flourishing farming venture, Ceciliah also maintains a job as an administrative clerk at a Nairobi-based company.
While she enjoys the stability of her office job, she has demonstrated that her true passion lies in the world of agriculture.
However, the path to success in farming hasn’t been entirely smooth. Market saturation often puts pressure on prices, but Ceciliah remains undeterred.
Armed with a Diploma in Management, she plants giant nightshade managu seeds from Busia, and for a quarter acre, she requires one and a half kilograms of seeds.
Ceciliah has embraced a planting system that involves broadcasting seeds without making holes or furrows; they are thrown and lightly covered with soil upon landing.
While this method reduces costs and labor, it poses certain challenges, particularly in dealing with pests and diseases due to the crowded plants.
For addressing these challenges, Ceciliah has sought guidance from experts like Richard Omondi, the founder of Agri-Irrigation & Solutions Africa. Omondi encourages farmers using this method to incorporate irrigation for watering their crops, a practice that Ceciliah has adopted to ensure the success of her farming venture.