By Isaac Blessings
The agriculture sector in Kenya is dominated by small scale farmers who reap very little from their sweat. This can be attributed to the high cost of farming, lack of incentives by the government and shark like brokers who make a killing from farmers produce at the expense of the men and women who toil in their farms. But this is not usually the case. A section of Kenyans have adopted modern farming techniques and are making good money out of it.
Kenya’s most celebrated athlete Eliud Kipchoge is one such person who has ventured into farming. In this article, WoK you to a tour inside Eliud Kipchoge’s multi-million farming business.
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Dairy and Tea Farming
Away from athletics, the marathon world record holder revealed during an interview with Smart Harvest that he is into tea and dairy farming. Kipchoge ventured into farming in 2013. He keeps dairy cows in Uasin Gishu County and grows tea in Nandi County, a friendly environment for the crop which requires well drained, deep and well aerated solid.
The Journey of Farming
According to Kipchoge, farming is more of a marathon than a sprint that requires persistence, discipline and careful planning and preparations.
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“For example with dairy farming, the journey doesn’t begin when you buy your cows. It is a painstaking walk that requires patience, passion and hard work just like a marathon. I have learnt that cows are very delicate creatures, the way you treat them determines the output. If you treat them badly, expect no milk. So as a farmer, you must feed your cows well and keep them in a clean environment,” he said during the interview.
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The athlete told Smart Farming that the farming venture is mainly under the tutelage of his wife Grace. She is in charge of the farm most of the time since he is usually training. Currently, the world marathon record holder is preparing for the 2022 Tokyo Olympics to be held from May 6. She is the General Manager of the farm and ensures that everything runs smoothly.
“Her role mainly entails ensuring cleanliness of the dairy unit. She ensures the place is cleaned twice a day; morning and evening in order to keep flies and pungent away. Equally important, she ensures that during milking, the farm hands do it properly. When milking, the person must ensure that their hands are clean and dry. They also need to use a clean cloth to wipe the tears. These precautions are necessary in order to avoid bacterial infections like mastitis,” revealed the World record holder.
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Challenges in Farming and Mistakes made in the process
Kipchoge revealed that his major challenge has been fluctuation of prices in the market. He revealed that there are seasons where his cows produce a lot of milk, but when the commodity reaches the market, the prices have gone down. The same also happens with the tea market. He also revealed that the biggest mistake he made during his farming journey was purchasing hybrid cows without prior knowledge which he later regretted. The lesson he picked from the experience was that before investing any money in farming, you must do some solid due diligence.
“Some animals can look promising from the outside because they have an impressive structure, but if you dig out their history, you find that they have issues and are historically poor performers in terms of their output. But if you make a mistake, you keep walking. Never give up your farming journey. Every day is a learning opportunity and you pick each lesson along the way so that you make more informed decisions next time,” Kipchoge explained.
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Advice to the youths and anyone aspiring to venture into farming
Kipchoge credits passion to be the main ingredient if one is to excel in agri-business and earn good income. He also urged the government to allocate more incentives to make the sector more attractive. This is because young people love technology and this is a good catch for them.
“I want to disagree with the notion that farming is a dirty and uncool venture. It’s just about the mindset and passion. Also, the government needs to sensitize and train farmers on new farming methods, especially small-scale farmers who make up 70 percent of the farmers in Kenya. And for those aspiring to venture into farming, ask yourself whether you have the passion, love for the animals/crops, patience, consistency and management skills. Be prepared for change, expect uncertainties and challenges. Be willing and ready to embrace technology,” Kipchoge told the publication.
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