Profile of a Farm Shop Demonstration Farmer: James Mugo
August 30, 2015
An opportunity with the Farm Shop Trust turned James Mugo into a successful Farmer keen to expand his farming business
I (James Mugo) was born and raised in Gikambura area, before I joined Farm shop I had little interest in farming. One day in May 2014 on my way to Gikambura shopping centre , there was a farming seminar taking place I came to learn later that it was farm shop Gikambura shop launch. I joined the group that was being trained about maize production. After the seminar, through the knowledge gained that day and seeds obtained from the training I planted maize variety Duma 43 and the resulting yields were good.
Later on we held discussions with a Farm Shop Trust agronomist in the follow-up trainings and we planted kales and spinach with the correct spacing and used Mavuno fertilizer. Since then, my farm has since been used as a demonstration farm where farmers are trained on the current technology in agriculture. Currently my farm has spinach and African Nightshade( managu). Other plants in my nursery are kale and peppers.
From my association with Farm shop I have added to my knowledge on how to choose the right variety of maize seed depending on the different seasons. I have also gained knowledge on the use of fertilizer; the importance of mixing the fertilizer with soil before planting to avoid scorching and the need to use the right fertilizer for each plant.
I have also learnt about keeping records, how to use chemicals for pest control and benefits of mulching to retain soil moisture. I can now say that I have a lot of interest and passion in farming and getting small sales from the kale and spinach has been my joy.
I am excited to continue my association with Farm shop for more knowledge and education. My area (Gikambura) is dry and my dream in future is to have a drip irrigation system complete with a tank so as to expand my farming business.
This farmer profile has been written by Naomi Mungai. Please contact me at email@example.com if you have any questions about becoming a demonstration farmer with Farm Shop.
A profile of a Kenyan village: Ngecha and Farm Shop
Ngecha is a village located about 27km away from Nairobi in Kiambu County. The village is mainly known for having the best artists in the country and over time Ngecha has found herself being ranked among the best for its growing agricultural sector. Ngecha specializes in dairy farming and poultry rearing. Its population estimates to 12,000 people. Two thirds of its population is dedicated to small and medium scale farming. Due to its close proximity to Nairobi, most farmers in the area have a ready market for their produce and there is a huge demand for vegetables, milk, eggs, and broiler Chicken meat.
Due to this trend, The Farm Shop Trust established a shop at Ngecha Market center. Farmers all over Ngecha and even in the surrounding areas have reaped huge benefits from attending free trainings on livestock and agronomy. Farmers have also benefited from greater accessibility to quality and affordable seeds, feeds, fertilizers, mineral supplements, farm equipment, tools and the set-up of Farm Shop Trust demonstration farmers in the area.
Farmers feel inspired as they discover and learn about innovative and modern farming techniques and products, which make them feel happier as they reap the benefits of improved yields, healthier animals and increased profits.
Maize farming demonstrations with the Farm Shop Trust near Ngecha, Kenya
August 20, 2015
Myself and my colleagues, Morwenna Roberts and Claire Reigate joined Farm Shop Trust Extension Officers (in agronomy and livestock health) Naomi and Casty to give demonstration training at a farm near Ngecha. I first visited the demonstration farm in Ngecha on the 22nd of July and fifteen farmers attended. We were joined by Rosemary from the Ministry of Agriculture, and Beatrice from Farm Concern, an NGO that links farmers to market traders.
The Farm Shop Trust provides regular agricultural training days for farmers at locations across Kiambu County, Kenya. If farmers are educated on how best to farm a wide variety of crops they are more likely to produce higher yields, farm more efficiently and sustainably on the land available to them and be able to sell their produce for higher prices. Farming is the backbone of the Kenyan economy and training in efficient smallholder farming methods will help more people to thrive.
Farm Shop Trust staff led instruction for a group of fifteen local farmers on how to measure out the correct distances needed between maize seeds; how deep to make the holes and how to use the fertiliser correctly so that the seeds are not burnt by it. The training was based around using a fertiliser product, and planting F1 Hybrid Maize. The farmers pegged out the row, then used bits of plastic tied to the wire to mark out the 25 cm spacing, then dug a hole, put in 3 container caps full of fertiliser, covered it in a bit of soil then added the maize seed and covered the hole completely. They repeated this for 2 rows, then planted a row of maize without fertilizer so that the farmers can compare the difference.
At the end of the session farmers were asked to fill out feedback forms and identify areas in which they would like further training. Farmers requested instruction in dairy and poultry production, specifically calf rearing. Rearing animals for milk, meat and eggs would involve high initial investment by farmers, and continual cost of inputs for the maintenance of animal health, though promising higher profit margins.
I visited Ngecha again with Morwenna Roberts and Casty on the 12th of August, twenty-one days after the seeds were planted. When we arrived at the Demo field we saw that the maize seeds had successfully sprouted and grown to around seven inches in height.
The Farm Shop Trust had also previously instructed the demo farmer to plant pepper plant seeds and cover the patch with feed bags to protect the germinating seeds from the morning cold. When we removed the feed bags on the 12th of August the pepper plant seeds had sprouted successfully and in four weeks the farmer will transplant the seedlings so that the plants have space to grow and that he can sell some of the plants.
We then drove to a near-by tomato greenhouse where this group of farmers regularly meet and Casty reviewed what had been done three weeks ago and that this had resulted in plenty of healthy maize seedlings. Casty then handed out pens and paper to the ten farmers attending the training and gave a lesson on the importance of record keeping in farming because it enables the farmer to record exactly what they did. Farmers were instructed to record for livestock; symptoms of their sick animal, how long the animal had had those symptoms, what they had treated the animal with, how strong a dose they used and what the results where. For crops, they were taught to record the date of planting, spacing of planting, if fertiliser was used and if so, how it had been prepared. These habits were recommended so that if a farmer had a healthy crop they knew what they should do again next time and if the was a problem they had a better chance of identifying what had gone wrong.
After this lesson there was a group Q and A session where the farmers explained the current crop or livestock difficulties they were experiencing ad Casty explained the changes or treatments they needed to make. Casty explained de-worming procedures, how to identify Trichominiasis in cows and how to deter pests on tomato plants with either pesticides or diluted rabbit urine.
Farmers left with practical advice on the current agricultural problems they were facing. If farmers do well and make more profit they are more likely to be able to afford more than the most basic and cheapest agricultural products.
On my second day since in Kenya I had the opportunity to visit Grace Mweru, the owner of an Agri-shop (an agricultural supplies store) who was then in the process of becoming a Farm Shop Franchisee. Agri-shops’ sell a variety of products that a farmer might need; including seeds, fertilisers, animal feeds, feed supplements and veterinary medicines. Agricultural supply stores are a common sight in Nairobi but some are often poorly stocked and the staff may not have the knowledge to correctly advise the farmer of the correct product to suit their needs or explain how the product must be used to be most effective. The Farm Shop Trust aims for all agricultural shops that become ‘Farm Shops’ under their franchisee-ship to be well stocked to suit the needs of farmers and must be staffed with helpful and well qualified staff that will enable Kenyan farmers to make the most efficient use of the correct products.
Until a month ago, Grace had an Agri-shop in the town of Githurai for over a year. Her shop was next to a busy Farm Shop and this inspired her to move her shop to a location nearer to her home and become a Farm Shop franchisee. Grace talked with current Franchisees before requesting to become a Franchisee herself. On Wednesday 5th of August she launched here new shop in Murera, Kiambu County, Nairobi, Kenya as a Farm Shop Franchisee. Her husband is a well-known Vet in the Murera area and treats the cows of many of the local diary farmers that I talked to that afternoon.
When I visited Grace at the site of her new shop that had just been built, the walls were unpainted and the shelves for the shop were still being built. Now, on the 5th of August, the morning of Grace’s new shop launch; her shop is fully painted, well stocked, brightly labelled and bustling. Across the road from the shop, Farm Shop Trust staff had set up a gazebo for local farmers and a DJ had arrived.
At around 11am, Farm Shop Trust Extension Officers (in agronomy and livestock health) start off the launch event to an audience of around twenty-five farmers with a prayer and the drawing of the first raffle prize ticket. There are introductions regarding staff specialisms, talks on disease prevention by certain pests such as white fly, and how best to treat common livestock infections such as mastitis in dairy cows.
The four hour event was broken up by jokes by DJ John, raffled price draws of agricultural products stocked at the new Farm Shop and finally a banana eating competition. As I helped Farm Shop staff pack down the launch event banners, farmers flooded Grace’s shop to buy various products they had learnt about that day.
The Farm Shop Trust provides a lot for their Franchisees; helping them to develop loyal customer bases.
a free farmers outreach event 10 days after the launch to develop a local customer base
further free agricultural demonstration days for farmers based from the shop itself.
The Farm Shop Trust also provides free training for franchisees and shop assistants in accounting, customer service, product knowledge and business management.
As part of becoming a Franchisee, the Farm Shop Trust pay on average around 5,000 Kenyan Shillings for the outside of the shop to be painted in Farm Shop colours and branding. Branding the shop links the shop to the Farm Shop Trust’s developing reputation for:
high quality products
extensive product range
well informed and helpful franchisees and shop assistants.
It takes around 300,000 Kenyan Shillings to fully stock an agricultural shop like Grace has done and the Farm Shop Trust often link potential Franchisees to micro-finance institutions.
After the event, I chatted to Grace’s shop assistant, 20 year old Moses; who is waiting to hear the results of his exams for his Certificate in Agriculture. He has already started studying for his Diploma in Agriculture, a two year course. Like many Farm Shop shop assistants, his parents are farmers and this sparked his interest in agriculture.
For Grace and her shop, her husbands’ reputation as a reliable vet in the local area, Grace’s past experiences as a shop owner, the importance she places on having a very well stocked shop as well as the Farm Shop Trust’s assistance with training, branding and marketing all bode well for the success of her new shop. I wish her the very best of success.
If you have any questions or would like to know more about the Plymouth University’s Futures Entrepreneurship Centre or my work with the Farm Shop Trust please feel free to contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org