The unknown stakeholders on my farm
Earn 400,000 Kenya Shillings from one acre of Sukuma Wiki within 5 months. That was the only thought that was running through my Cousin Steve’s mind after he saw a TV feature on how farmers are striking it big in agribusiness.
It had never crossed his mind to practice farming but what he saw made him think otherwise. This was the ultimate investment -who knew money could actually grow from the soil? He was finally going to become a millionaire. All the budget calculations were set and carefully documented to the last seed.
30 sunsets later he could see the vegetables waving happily in his Shamba, as if giving him a hi-five for a job well done. He could almost smell the cash literally growing off the ground. His investment was almost ready.
When you are just starting off in farming, you should really be careful with where you source your information. There will always be people trying to give you useful advice on what to do and what not to do. These people always claim that the tips they are giving you have worked on their farms but in reality, you have no way of proving if this is true or not.
Now, Steve managed to fall under one of these Sinkholes and got a local ‘experienced’ farmer give him some advice on how he should use old fencing to fence his new sukuma wiki Shamba. At the moment, the idea of recycling old fencing was a no brainer and a sure way of securing his Ksh 600,000 allowing him to cut his investment expense by half and use the money to pay back a debt he owed at the local petrol station. The petrol pump was killing him; maybe he should have considered applying for that subsidized electricity plan for homes he had heard the government had rolled out. Too bad the electricity subsidy program had ended. He had gotten into a bad habit of always asking for fuel on credit and that needed to stop. This advice was definitely God Sent.
I had tried reasoning with Steve to get new fencing and offered him credible sources of information which are easily available online through his phone to help guide him on steps to take as a beginner farmer but he quickly dismissed me, claiming that the local “experienced farmer” giving him advice was on the ground and well versed with how things worked in that area. He clearly did not trust online repository systems. I let him be.
What Steve did not know is that there were other ruminant stakeholders eager to reap on his investment. He soon going to find out the plans these ruminants had in mind. As he was busy enjoying his favourite beer over the weekend with some friends and loudly shouting how he would soon become a “Sukuma Wiki” millionaire, his neighbours’ goats had managed to get out of their enclosure and have a go on his so-called experienced “fence”.
By the time he got home, his fence was down and his Shamba looked like a wasteland that had been trampled by a herd of elephants. All his cheerful Sukuma wikis were gone! Nowhere in sight. To add insult to injury one of the goats was lying there, sprawled on the ground staring at him, chewing away from the last of his millions.
He has now been spending the last few days fixing his fence problem and fitting new wire mesh to make sure those goats never get a chance to even sniff his farm poles. He has definitely learnt his lesson and he has sworn that next time things would be different. He stood there looking happily at his new fence, smiling…until he saw the neighbours’ goats again walking into view of his fence perimeter, chewing what looked like spinach ravaged from another sorry farmer living nearby.
Advice: Always fence your Shamba well before you start farming.
PS: The earnings of Sukuma Wiki per acre depicted above depends on the current market prices. The prices are prone to change from time to time.