• Wangari started farming after retrenchment swept through her work place in 2017.
• Her strawberries are grown in cans as she doesn't have land, but she advises Kenyans to be patient with farming.
Wangari is a farmer in Kitengela in Kajiado county, a residential suburb within the Nairobi metropolis. She is an avid digital farmer as she runs a YouTube channel and a blog to entice the youth by making farming cool and easy to do. See more: https://bit.ly/2BX6Vqp
Wangari Kuria had a promising career in the corporate world after graduating with a Masters degree in Business Administration at the United State International University.
But her dreams were shuttered when she found herself jobless after retrenchment swept through her workplace in 2017.
“I was on my own, left to fend for myself. This was a total identity change in spite of the dreams I had. But life had to go on,” the 36 year-old said in an interview.
After the shock of losing a job and with no choices, and mouths to feed, she tapped into her childhood memories and experiences of farming in her upcountry home in Nyandarua county.
The mother of two says she invested these skills into a small scale spinach kitchen garden then grew it.
She had not saved up for such eventualities, but after asking to use her neighbour’s land in Kitengela, she planted a few vegetables. The crops grew well, giving her surplus to sell.
“I started selling fresh vegetables to neighbours and with time, expanded my venture into sections that have mushrooms, green-house tomato farming, vegetables, strawberry and onions,” she said.
Wangari is still farming in Kitengela in Kajiado county, a residential suburb within the Nairobi metropolis. She is an avid digital farmer as she runs a YouTube channel and a blog to entice the youth by making farming cool and easy to do.
She is the founder of Farmer on Fire, an agribusiness brand whose presence on digital platforms is quite impressive. The forum is also on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
Kajiado is a water-stressed region and often experiences scarcity. But Wangari did not let this deter her.
At first she sourced water from a bowser that would ferry water from town to her farm at Sh2,000 for 5,000 litres from a borehole.
“I needed about three trucks every month, which was very expensive, because it’s very hot and plants need a lot of water,” she says.
She says she engaged her neighbour who has sunk a borehole and agreed on a deal to pipe water from the borehole and pay at the end of the month based on consumption.
Other challenges include pests and diseases and poor road network which becomes a hindrance to transport produce to customers when it rains, she said.
Wangari makes organic manure and traditional pest control methods and shares with her online audience.
She uses her platform to market her produce by continually updating her social media followers on what is ready for sale. She also has a network of grocers who buy from her farm.
But Wangari says she wants to venture into commercial farming of onions. Her dream is to have a 100 acres under horticulture for local and export market.
The 'Farmer on Fire' showcases 21-day challenges to engage her followers.
“You will learn tips such as how to make organic manure, mulch your kitchen garden, among other great ideas," she says, adding that she expects to expand the teaching opportunity to short courses on urban farming.
“This is my effort of changing how Africa looks at farming. Our parents also believe in white collar jobs but they need to change their perception; that farming can be profitable. We also need to take farming as a serious business that needs persistence and consistency, not as a side hustle."
Her advice to young farmers is to be patient. “Do not expect to become millionaires within the first season, and do not abandon farming when you fail. Farming is fun and it gives me the opportunity to see the impact that I am making, rather than being a cog in a big corporate wheel."
Her strawberries, for instance, are grown in containers because she has no land, but the sales keep coming in.
As a published author, she has compiled e-books on how to farm.
Edited by R.Wamochie