Investing Tips

Lessons learnt during the 2019 drought in Kenya

Things are now starting to get back to normal in Kenya. Reports of rain can be heard in most corners of the country. This is a relief to many. Mostly for the farmers who were not prepared to face the drought. Most counties were pushed into alarm as the dry conditions and high temperatures persisted from January to Mid April this year. Farmers and consumers complained of lack of water and high food prices everywhere. Mostly farmers. Their voices were the loudest in this protest against nature.

Amidst all these complains, there was a small group of farmers who were thanking God for showing them mercy. Crop farming has never been sweeter for these few individuals who were smart enough to get their farm affairs in order. These are the guys who have irrigation systems and enough water either installed or strategically located on their farms; Rivers, dams and drilled boreholes ( Most hand- dug wells around the country dried up as soon as the drought hit March). While everyone was wailing and lamenting, these guys have had vegetables growing on their farms all along. They dictated the prices and nature was on their side. Brokers could not even touch them. They had food. They held all the cards.

I had a run-in with one of them who tapped me on the back and told me how happy he was to have invested in an irrigation system and a drilled borehole. He was selling various vegetables weekly on his two-acre farm and making a profit of Ksh 150,000 weekly. He had spent a lot of money setting up his farm and was grateful that all the money he invested was not going to waste.

What does this story teach us? Nothing new. It just reaffirms how important water is in a farmers life. It is the thin line that will determine if you will get a profit this year or not. Water is the single most important factor in all farms. Never take this lightly. Do not do fake mathematics and assume the water you have can do large scale farming (In horticulture terms – 5 acres is large scale).

When you are getting into farming, you need to ENSURE you have a stable supply of water. If your water is unreliable then don’t get too ambitious and plant a big farm. Start small and hassle all the way until you get the ability to either drill a borehole or lease a farm which is near a river/dam.

The first step is getting a reliable supply of water. The next step is investing in an irrigation system that suits your farm needs. Getting this factors right will not only get you in the second group of farmers who laugh all the way to the bank during the dry season, but it will also give you the ability to efficiently use inputs, such as fertilizer, water and by enhancing the yields and quality of the crops farmers grow.

Farming is profitable but also a risky business. The risky mostly applies to Horticulture (Vegetable farming). When you don’t checklist water/irrigation on your farm, then you will miss out on many opportunities that other smart farmers enjoy.

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Joseph Boit

Joseph is a social entrepreneur with a curious mind and love for farming. Big dreamer and a technology enthusiast.

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