By Prudence Minayo
When Martin Gatheca bought cows to keep his aging mother busy, little did he know that it would turn into a cash cow. He ended up having hundreds of cows and making upto 50,000 daily from the sale of milk. Unfortunately, the pandemic greatly affected his venture and he took several measures to stay afloat.
Here is the story of Nai’posha dairy farm founder Martin Gatheca as told by WoK.
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When Martin relocated to Kenya from the US, he wanted his mother to have something to do that would empower her economically. He bought her three dairy cows to be kept in her Gatundu home. According to the entrepreneur, the of increased from five then ten, 20 and 50.
When his mother died in 2016, he moved the animals to a much bigger piece of land in Naivasha. The animals continued to multiply and by 2019, he had 300 cows. At this time, he would milk up to 1000 litres a day which in turn would fetch him about Sh50,000 daily. He would sell 700 litres to a customer who manufactured cheese and the rest would be distributed to different hotels around Naivasha. Nai’posha dairy farm grew to employ about 60 workers.
“My farm opened its doors commercially in 2016. Initially, we used to do the business casually back at home in Gatundu, Ichaweri village. To make it a full time and profitable business I had to move from Gatundu to Naivasha where I had bought a 70-acre piece of land. Before relocating I had only 50 cows,” he told People Daily.
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Like most businesses, he experienced hardships owing to the pandemic. Just when people were recovering from Covid, inflation greatly affected his business with the prices of feeds shooting to nearly double their initial price. Due to the closure of hotels, he had no place to take his milk. He lost forty cows because he could not afford to feed them properly. Others died due to diseases, like mastitis.
His stock decreased to 150 cows with only 56 of these being milked. The ratio of the feeds per animal reduced to one and a half kilogram and milk production went from 40 litres per cow in a day to 22. The farmer stopped making his own dairy meal in the farm due to the high costs of raw materials and even millers were providing less quality meals since they lacked adequate raw materials.
Mr. Gatheca also downsized his employees to twenty. To keep things running, he reduced the dairy meal and substituted it with fodder. He told The star that were it not for his love for the animals and the remaining employees, he would have given up.
“I hardly make any profits. It is just for the love of the animals and the workers. I used to have 60 workers, now I have 20. I am worried that if things continue as they are, I may be forced to close the farm and I don’t know what will happen to the remaining 20 workers,” he told the Star
Mr. Gatheca urged the government to intervene and help farmers. He said that during his visit to countries, like, India and Italy, he realized farmers receive a lot of support from their governments unlike in Kenya where they are on their own.