Farming has been deservedly touted as one of the best ways to earn a living in Kenya. While many people are focusing on cultivating crops, Teresa Kibiri saw an opportunity in grass farming.
Together with her mother, Mary Kahanya and sister, Zipporah, started farming grass about five years ago. Teresa told a local daily that she invested Sh10,000 in order to get started in the business.
By the end of 2022, the trio had a total of three acres of grass, two acres of brachiaria in classic near the town of Nyeri, and an acre of super napier pakchong 1 in Othaya’s Kagere area.
Here is her story as told by WoK.
Found in various regions around the world, brachiaria is an important forage grass which is very beneficial for dairy farmers. It can grow in different kinds of environments including acidic and infertile soils depending on the grass variety. Kibiri told the Daily that napier pakchong 1 has crude protein between 16 to 18 per cent.
She ventured into grass farming after getting her diploma in fashion design at Nyeri National Polytechnic. Grass seemed like a lucrative idea due to its short maturity time.
Thus, after acquiring a few cuttings from abroad through a friend who visited Kenya, she got started on the business. Sometimes they directly plant the grass or deep them in a root enhancer fertilizer before planting them with manure.
The Napier Pakchong 1, which grows to about 10 feet, is harvested after 90 days. A cutting goes for Sh50 and an acre can produce up to 3,000 cuttings. The cuttings can also be propagated after ninety days.
The farmer hopes to educate as many Kenyans as possible about the benefits of these variety of grasses. She hopes that they can maximize profits in their farming venture and that more young people can embrace farming. To the dairy farmers, she advised that their animals need to be given high quality fodder. Therefore, they should strive to set a portion of their land to plant grass.
Apart from farming grass, they also train people about fodder production at their demonstration farm, and through zoom meeting and Whatsapp. Their grass is also marketed through social media both within and outside the country.
One of their major challenge is climate change. In the past few years they have seen a reduction on the amount of rainfall. This means that there is a lot of competition for the irrigation water that is available.
Other varieties of the brachiaria are also susceptible to infestation by spider mites, mainly during the dry season. These mites are not easy to control. They soldier on despite the challenges and she is determined to grow her venture outside Nyeri.
The young entrepreneur is a student at Kirinyaga University where she pursues a Bachelor of Science in Fashion Design and Textile.