Two-thirds of Kenyans rely for their livelihoods and survival on the plants they grow and the livestock they maintain. Much of the nation, however, is categorized as arid or semi-arid. The enhanced frequency of drought and competition over scarce water resources, combined with animal disease outbreak, has made pastoralists particularly susceptible to hunger.
However, new era generation has come up with new tactics to keep safe farming on going even for the urban dwellers. We catch up with one who is on fire, Wangary Kuria.
1. Who is Wangary Kuria?
Wangari Kuria is the founder of Wangary farmer on fire. She is a farmer who was born and bred in Nyandarua hills, She currently lives in Nairobi and is passionate about farming and having safe food sources and choices for urban dwellers
2. What are you currently doing in Kenya?
I am currently farming in Kitengela. I farm-fresh vegetables and I also do digital content creation in my youtube channel. I engage schools in starting and managing urban farms where the students can work and see food grow.
3. What is your inspiration to do what you do?
My inspiration comes from health and nutrition. Food is medicine yet people are getting various diseases nowadays and I believe the body is self-healing, by using preventative measures of building one’s immunity. It starts by showing others that agriculture is not easy but doable and all this is critical towards ensuring we ae alive tomorrow since we need to recruit more future farmers.
4. Any success stories? And Impact?
Yes, Amiran Kenya would like to do collaborative work of influencing and changing the narrative of agriculture among the young people in the social media space.
I deliver veggie packages to my clients of assorted raw and to be cooked varieties. Eg cucumbers, lettuce, carrots, courgettes, broccoli, cauliflower, beetroots, tomatoes and mushrooms and getting feedback from people that they are getting a mind shift to make healthier choices is why I do what I do.
5. What is the current state of the Kenyan market in relation to farming?
Farming is the most important economic sector in Kenya, although less than 8 percent of the land is used for crop and feed production, and less than 20 percent is suitable for cultivation. Kenya is a leading producer of tea and coffee, as well as the third-leading exporter of fresh produce, such as cabbages, onions, and tomatoes.
6. What are some of the challenges in this industry?
We face quite a lot of challenges in the industry but we keep strong every day, for instance, Unsafe food preservation practices, Climate change, Poor markets vs high cost of production and the use of outdated technology. We believe in the near future that this will be past tense.
7. How have you tried to solve these challenges that you face?
Unsafe food preservation practices
By stating a movement of people who are food safety conscious. The idea is to make the consumers responsible and actively engage where their food is coming and how safe is it for consumption.
By changing the mindset of people that all you need is water and not rain to farm. Always have a reliable source of water before embarking on farming to avoid frustrations related to rain. I use drip irrigation in my farm which gives me the advantage of farming in the dry season. Kajiado is generally dry so this gives me a head start compared to other farmers.
Poor markets vs high cost of production
I have introduced organic ways of farming which have cut costs for me and I have uploaded videos on how I mix the organic pesticide .e.g the chili, marigold and onion fermented mixture is used to treat a variance of diseases which they would have cost a lot of money, fertilizer instead of chemical shop-bought fertilizers, even tips like avoiding the seedling transplanting process by planting the seeds directly where you want them to grow cut costs and increases seedling survival by up to 100% .
ON markets I have managed to cut out the middle-man who always racks most profits in farming. Sell directly to consumers. I deliver up to fifty veggie packs a day to my environs which gets me a premium price. Use of social media as a marketing tool has helped.
8. Is the government doing enough to support you?
Not yet, I have not seen the effort. I have heard through the grapevine that eggs have a higher demand locally after the government intervened
9. Who do you look up to?
I look up to the deputy president William Ruto. His farm in Eldoret is a dream of mine. His ability to rake profits in this sector amazes me. He also doesn’t keep it to himself, he invites all from around Kenya to come and get inspired.
10. What are your future plans?
To scale up my farm and start producing for local and export. I also plan to be an influential digital marketer who moves the youth towards vlogging on farming and spreading it out