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Contract farming attracts teacher to groundnut planting

Waithera, 26, graduated in 2019, however, she didn’t want to hustle for a job as it is the norm

In Summary

•This will be her first time harvesting groundnuts on contract farming.

•She has planted six acres at her family home in Mata, Taita Taveta.

Agnes Waithera says contract farming attracted her to get into groundnut farming.
Agnes Waithera says contract farming attracted her to get into groundnut farming.
Image: AGATHA NGOTHO

Agnes Waithera did not want to waste time job hunting when she graduated from Moi University with a degree in Education, in 2019.

Waithera started farming to keep herself busy and make money.

She says she chose to get into farming because she didn’t want to hustle for a job as is the norm, so until then, she is comfortable doing farming.

The 26-year-old says contract farming attracted her to start growing groundnuts because of a guaranteed market and better price for her produce.

Contract farming involves agricultural production being carried out based on an agreement between the buyer and farm producers.

Waithera says she has been growing green grams.

However, this will be her first time harvesting groundnuts on contract farming.

She has planted six acres at her family home in Mata, Taita Taveta.

“I have learnt from other farmers, the returns are good and growing the crop is labour intensive, unlike other crops. The company that has contracted me will be buying one kilo of groundnuts at Sh85,” she says.

“If I manage to harvest one ton in an acre, I will be assured of making Sh85,000. So in six acres, that will be almost Sh500,000.” 

Waithera advises her peers to venture into agriculture saying there are good returns.

“Farming might sound like a dirty job but once you are done, you can quickly clean up,” she says.

A sample of groundnuts.
A sample of groundnuts.
Image: AGATHA NGOTHO

Taita Taveta Agriculture executive Davis Mwangoma says the groundnut project was started in 2018/2019 under the Feed the future in partnership with the county government.

“It started with the Accelerated Value Chain Development programme until late last year when it was extended through the Accelerated Institutional and Food Systems programme,” he said.

“The programme is funded by the United States Agency for International Development/Feed the future.”

He said the programme is running in Taita under two value chain crops of Irish potatoes, which are being grown in the highland areas and drought-tolerant crops of sorghum, green grams, groundnuts and pigeon peas being grown in the lowland areas of Voi, Mwatate and Taveta. 

Mwangoma said they are encouraging farmers to grow groundnuts and they can make Sh80,000 from one acre after doing gross margins.  

“We have worked out the gross margins and under irrigation,  the expenses farmers can put in from irrigation to inputs up to harvesting is an average of Sh20,000,” he said.

“A farmer can sell a kilo of groundnuts at Sh87, Sh85 plus an additional bonus of Sh2 and can make up to Sh80,000 per acre. Therefore, a farmer growing five acres can have Sh400,000.”

The executive said they have linked farmers with the market and now they have a contractual arrangement that guarantees a ready market for their produce. 

He said the county has established groups to help in aggregating all the value chains under drought-tolerant crops.

“We have put farmers together under the Taita Taveta Nafaka Growers Cooperative Society and Taugi Cooperative Society. This will help in aggregating the farmers for the drought-tolerant value chain crops, and ensure there is a good seed system and proper nutrition,” he said.

Mwangoma said so far, they have 42 farmers who are under contract farming and 145 acres are currently under the crop.  

He said the company which has contracted farmers had been importing groundnuts from Argentina and India to do peanut butter, but now they have contracted farmers in Taita Taveta to grow the crop.

“We are encouraging farmers to adopt an alternative crop like groundnuts which is suitable and will earn them good money and ensure we have linked farmers with the market. The crop is also good for nitrogen fixation,” Mwangoma said.

Edited by Kiilu Damaris