If you visit the sleepy town of Kisaju in Isinya, Kajiado County, you’ll meet Grace Muchai, a business graduate who grows over 30 types of herbs and spices on her three-acre piece of land.
Once you reach her farm, you will be welcomed by the heavy aroma of herbs like rosemary, chamomile, tarragon, lemon grass, thyme, aloe vera, chives, and basil, among others.
Hers is the largest herbs farm in Kisaju.
But is the business profitable? And what are the challenges?
This is her journey as told by WoK:
Grae Muchai started the venture in 2022 after hearing that herbs have various health benefits that make them profitable to grow.
Initially, she consulted the Kenya Institute of Organic Farming, which guided her on how to set up her own organic farm by incorporating diverse farming systems like agroforestry and vermiculture.
She also boosted her knowledge by researching and attending workshops organized by other agricultural organizations.
To begin her venture, Grace started with a capital of sh 100 000.
Luckily, she had already installed an irrigation system when growing other crops, so she used the capital to purchase seedlings and prepare the land.
Among the different types of herbs she grows, the most common one is Sage.
She starts by preparing the land, incorporating manure, and later organic fertilizer. The land is also watered to moisten the soil.
She then obtains the seeds from certified propagators.
She says that the herb is harvested three to four months after planting. She does this every month and a half for three years.
On her farm, she harvests about 400 kilos of Sage per season.
Most of her customers prefer raw Sage, which she sells for between sh 250 and sh 300 per kilo.
She says the price usually depends on quality, and most of her customers are outside Kenya.
Sage is most commonly consumed in Italian countries, where it is used to flavor stuffings, sauces, and meat dishes.
It is also a common ingredient in sausages, cheeses, and breads. In other cuisines, sage is used to flavor soups, stews, and roasted vegetables.
The fresh or dried leaves can also be used, and the herb can also be infused into oils or vinegar.
Like most crops, Sage is affected by long droughts. Luckily, Grace has invested in several irrigation systems.
The other challenge involves getting the right technical advice. She also has to supervise her workers, most of whom are unskilled and, therefore unreliable on their own.
She however asserts that herbs are easy to grow and manage and therefore one can start small and grow with time.
In future, she hopes to diversify her venture to incorporate value addition. In five years, she plans to make sage oil and package dried herbs.