• So far Ituki had harvested a total of 4.2 tons of African Birds Eye Chilli that has been exported to Europe.
• He said seeing how successful he had been, at least 10 other persons have expressed interest in pepper farming.
Residents of Ndalani village in Kitui thought Josephat Ituka's idea of venturing into pepper farming was crazy.
The crop requires a lot of water but Kitui is largely semi-arid and water-scarce. Only small-scale irrigation is conducted along the Tana and Athi rivers.
Ituka says he wanted to silence the doubting Thomases. He has done just that. For the last three months, he has raked in a tidy sum of money from exporting green pepper.
During a visit to his five-acre Joric Farm at the dry and sun-scathed Migwani subcounty, the Star found Ituka supervising workers as they tended to lush African bird's eye chilli.
The trailblazer in agri-business said that in the second half of March, he exported two tonnes of chilli.
“This particular variety is popular in the Netherlands, Germany and the UK,” he said.
But Ituka says the outbreak of the coronavirus almost shattered his dream of earning foreign exchange after international flights were banned just as his first crop was maturing.
“I was left disillusioned, wondering what to do with the crop I was stuck with. But it was not long before the government clarified that cargo flights had not been affected. The classification of the transportation farm produce as an essential service also came as an additional relief,” Ituka said.
Since the first harvest, he had also exported another 2.3 tonnes by early May.
“In a short span of time I have realised that I am slowly but surely reaping benefits from my agribusiness venture,” the farmer said.
Ituka said that before he started the pepper growing project, he ensured he had a reliable source of water.
“I had to first build an earth dam near the farm. It is now filled to capacity following the recent rains and I am assured of sufficient water for irrigation for the next 12 months,” he said.
“I invested an initial capital of Sh700,000 to start this project and I am hopeful that in the next five months, I will have recouped the money I put in and start enjoying profits,” he added.
He said his success had inspired at least 10 other persons have expressed interest in pepper farming.
“Hopefully, soon we are going to have 10 other farmers engaged in pepper farming for export in the neighbourhood,” he said.
Edited by R.Wamochie