GREENHOUSE farming technology is being embraced in Kisumu county.
The technology has been associated with wealthy individuals for many years, but this is changing, thanks to a community-driven development initiative funded by Lake Victoria Environmental Project.Many farmers in the region have now ventured into tomato and pepper growing.
On a tour of Ombeyi ward, Muhoroni sub-county in Kisumu, we meet 50-year-old Solomon Ngar, who quit teaching in 1986 to farm.
Ngar is a member of a 19-member group which owns two greenhouses, water harvesting facility and afforestation project.
"Greenhouse farming has opened a new chapter in our lives. We are able to provide food for our family and educate our children,” says the father of seven.
He says they supply tomatoes to local schools and traders in Kisumu city and fetch Sh1,200 per crate.
“We harvest two crates of tomatoes per greenhouse every week which generates Sh9,600 every month. We are also planning to grow various pepper varieties, onions and vegetables for export,” Ngar said.
He adds that at his home he is able to generate more than Sh50,000 through greenhouse farming.
He says the group started farming in 2014 and invested Sh1 million for the greenhouses measuring 18 by 30 metres with seven lines of tomatoes.
The money was given to them by the Lake Victoria Environmental Project.
They are also expecting further funding for the construction of water pans in readiness of farming diversification.
The group bought two greenhouses at Sh155,000 each and another Sh100,000 was used for setting up an irrigation system.
"We spent Sh50,000 on seeds and Sh150,000 on fertiliser and other farm inputs alongside land preparation,” Ngar said.
He said growing of the crop in greenhouses ensures minimal attacks by crop pests and diseases.
The technology, he says, has changed the lives of more than 100 farmers in the sub-county since inception of the project.
"Residents and students have been trained on greenhouse technology, growing tree seedlings, dairy farming, biogas production, poultry farming, beekeeping and fish farming. The aim is to equip the community with skills that will help them create wealth and make them food secure,” he said.
The group is working closely with agricultural experts both from the county and national governments for the success of the initiative.
Kisumu governor Jack Ranguma said the county is keen to boost horticulture farming and the youth should take up farming as an alternative source of self employment.
He said his county government will partner with other stakeholders to ensure food sufficiency.
In 2014/15 financial year, the county government allocated more than Sh593 million to agriculture.
Ranguma said allocation for the next financial year will increase to fund various agricultural projects in the county.
"Our farmers should not only farm hard but farm smart; some farmers lose their land after taking loans due to poor farming methods,” Ranguma said.
He said farmers should adopt latest farming techniques to boost food production and called on the national government to expedite the expansion of Kisumu International Airport to handle cargo planes.