In Kisii County, Kenya, many residents have turned to Eucalyptus tree farming in search of a sustainable income source.
However, James Nyagwoka, a 63-year-old farmer, chose a different path.
His decision to cultivate arrowroot on his six-acre farm has not only transformed his life but has also become a beacon of hope for aspiring farmers in the region.
Here is his story as told by WoK.
Raised in a humble family, he faced many challenges in his early life, including financial hardships and limited access to education.
In search of a better life, he ventured into casual labor, taking on odd jobs to make ends meet.
Despite facing numerous setbacks in his youth, Nyagwoka held onto a dream of achieving success through agriculture.
“I started arrowroot farming almost as a hobby with just 200 plants. These plants grew near a river in this farm that was handed down to me by my father,” Nyagwoka explains.
Over the years, Nyagwoka’s dedication and hard work paid off as he expanded his arrowroot plantation to an astonishing 100,000 plants.
His success story defied the conventional belief that arrowroot cultivation required specific soil conditions. Nyagwoka’s thriving arrowroot farm is a testament to the adaptability of this crop.
Nyagwoka’s journey to becoming a renowned arrowroot farmer was not without its challenges.
Theft of his arrowroot plants posed a constant threat, but his unwavering determination prevailed.
He emphasizes that the remaining plants continued to generate significant profits, proving that the rewards of arrowroot farming far outweighed the challenges.
One key aspect of Nyagwoka’s success is his preference for arrowroot varieties with fully grown green leaves. While some farmers opt for purple-leafed varieties, Nyagwoka firmly believes that the green-leaved arrowroots yield the best results
He states that a single row of 50 meters, planted with mature arrowroot plants, can yield an impressive Ksh 15,000.
Nyagwoka’s hard work and commitment have translated into financial success.
He proudly asserts that his annual income from arrowroot sales exceeds Ksh 600,000 on his six acre farm
His primary customer base resides in Kisii town, where small bags of arrowroot, priced at Ksh 3,000 each, are highly sought after.
What sets Nyagwoka apart is his dedication to ensuring a consistent supply of arrowroot to his customers.
To achieve this, he employs a strategic approach, dividing his farm into sections with varying maturity stages of arrowroot.
This meticulous planning allows him to harvest at different times, ensuring a steady flow of arrowroot to meet customer demand.
Beyond his personal success, Nyagwoka is committed to sharing his knowledge and expertise with fellow farmers in his community.
He offers free training to those who are venturing into arrowroot farming, enabling them to improve their livelihoods.
His active participation in agricultural exhibitions further underscores his commitment to staying updated on the latest farming practices and techniques.
“Four rows of arrowroots can earn me Ksh 60,000 a year. Out of that money, I can use Ksh 40,000 to buy maize for my family to eat throughout the year. Therefore, arrowroot farming brings prosperity,” Nyagwoka concludes
Nyagwoka’s vision extends beyond his own farm; he dreams of establishing a school for arrowroot farming to empower local youth with agricultural skills.