I never wanted to be a farmer. I hated farming right from childhood despite my mother being an addicted farmer. Addicted to the level that only darkness, not time, would remove her from her farms. Literally, if there was moonlight, she would continue tilling and weeding and harvesting till late.
The only part I enjoyed about farming then was playing in the farm, putting seeds in already dug holes and kicking the soil back with my foot. It was like playing soccer: drop – kick, drop – kick, pass the soil, kick. Oh, and harvesting dry maize, because it involved aiming maize at far-away heaps.
So, I hated farming. Also because my hands have always been too soft. One time my father told me to plant flowers around the house and when he came back in the evening my hands were bleeding.
“Hands of a girl, only fit for the pen. If you don’t study well, you will be poor, because those hands can’t help you otherwise.” That’s what he said. My own father.
So, I decided to study and let the pen make me rich. Obviously, the jembe was not my meal ticket.
But in my subtle stubborn ways, I took up farming – I planted a kitchen garden around my Bata company house. Yes, I went, hired a fork jembe and bought a panga, dug around the house, and planted cabbages, onions, spinach and sukuma. The onions, spinach and sukuma turned out mostly fine, despite enemies of development, kina Lewis and Gerishon, telling me they wouldn’t amount to anything because I wasn’t watering them everyday. I told them my vegetables were as ghetto as me and they didn’t need pampering.
Well, they didn’t turn out to be the healthiest on the block, but at least they were edible…
The cabbages though, which were right in front of the house, became the real embarrassment: the stupid things turned black, wilted, and died right in front of my eyes!
I swear someone looked at them with bad eyes.
The Millionaire Farmer
Then I don’t know which witch bewitched me (I know tongue twisters). I think it’s the cartels and motivational writers that made me believe I would make millions farming. I read and heard so extensively how paying farming was that I decided I would be a farmer, first as a side hustle, then full time. Even made a progression plan like they taught me. That was in 2014.
My research told me that Narok would be a very good place to farm either wheat or tomatoes. Wheat was out of the equation because I had never seen wheat in a farm, sembuse investing in it? So, tomatoes. My friend, Sein, is from Narok (Marti insists she is from close to Tanzania border because when they want for their ruracio, they traveled through Masai Mara to the other side like wildebeests). She told me I could co-farm with her mum. All I needed was to send her money. I trust Sein, so I sent her the money and her mum did the farming on my behalf.
Five or so months later, Sein called me, very excited that the tomatoes had been harvested and that she was sending me the proceeds. Wueh! Sema excitement. My mother would be proud of me and my father would be ashamed. I was making money from farming!
Only that the profit I had made was just 500 shillings! 500 Bob after almost 6 months takes the medal for one of the worst investments I have ever made. Only short of GNLD.
Thus my dreams of being a vegetable farmer in Narok died.
Next farming project: Tharaka Nithi Watermelons
Watermelons are always in demand, people just can’t get enough of them, and farmers make a killing with watermelons.
And we also wanted to make a killing farming watermelons, Winnie Mwende and I. Asking around, we found out that Tharaka Nithi county is as good with watermelons as it is with last-minute votes. So, using her mashinani connections, and Winnie has insane connections with churches and community mobilizers, she got the resources: a farm to hire and a really good person with farming hands to do the work.
We put our savings together and sent enough for preparing the land, buying seeds and one month’s wages for our farm manager.
Only that he stopped picking calls, and was nowhere to be seen. Apparently, he had taken money from several poor villagers and just disappeared into thin air, leaving his family behind.
Kigeugeu watermelon bastard.
Farming Meru Potatoes
We have had many projects and and activities with Kendi Gikunda. Some are known, like The Ameru blog which has grown to be a proper brand, and others are a mystery: like our farming project.
Long story short, we put together capital to go into farming proper… acres of fine potatoes in Kibirichia, Meru… and our project manager (yes, we had one) disappeared in plain sight and we couldn’t do shit about it.
So, who cursed me? When I get good people, the returns are almost nil and then the rest steal from this Meru boy. Worse when I do the farming myself.
One day. Maybe.