Agriculture continues to be the backbone of the Kenyan economy, providing a source of income for millions of farmers across the country. Jared Ong’angi a horticulture farmer from Tabaka, Kisii County found his place in the sector, making a killing from the production and sale of zucchini.
Prior to finding success in agriculture, Ong’angi worked a casual job at the soapstone mines. he would quit to venture into farming, specialising in kales, onions, tomatoes, and pumpkins, but majored on zucchini. He carried out his new venture on his three acres of land.
He had worked as a craftsman for two years making Ksh500 per day. He managed to save after which a friend of his introduced him to farming.
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“With the savings, I bought STAR 8021 Squash zucchini variety seeds from a distributor of Starke Ayres Kenya Ltd seeds in Kisii Town. I used an additional Ksh5000 for land preparation and Sh2500 to buy fertilizer and agrochemicals,” said Ong’angi.
A majority of farmers in the country who are into zucchini farming prefer the Star Squash 821 variety because it has high yields and is tolerant to common diseases.
“Our variety is preferred among farmers because it matures within 30 to 35 days after planting and it is also tolerant to powdery mildew disease which is deadly to the crop,” Starke Ayres Kenya Ltd Sales Agronomist-Samuel Gacheru told FarmBiz Africa.
Ong’angi takes his zucchini produce to the Daraja Mbili market in Kisii Town on every market day, Monday and Thursday, where he meets traders from Kisumu, Nairobi, Migori and Eldoret. He prefers dealing directly with traders so as to avoid brokers who would buy from him at low prices and sell for higher rates.
During the interview with FarmBiz, the zucchini farmer revealed that he harvested the crop twice a week and got approximately two bags per harvest which was over five bags of 100kg from one-and-a-half acres.
“There is a lot that needs to be done during harvesting as it involves packaging and transporting the produce to the market when they are still fresh,” he said.
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Zucchini does well in the most temperate zones of the country like Western, Rift valley and Central Kenya. Counties like Kiambu, Murang’a and Kirinyaga have an advantage over the rest due to their close proximity to Nairobi’s huge consumer market.