Annie Nyaga holds a degree in biomedical science. After her graduating from Egerton University in 2007 she found a job as as a purchasing assistant at a firm in Nairobi but only to quit after 6 months because it was boring and turned to farming watermelons, a business that has changed her life for the better.
“I am a living proof that farming pays and can be done by anyone. Farming is a profession of hope. To those interested in farming never ever give up.”
In 2008 Annie started farming watermelons in Mbeere, Embu County, where here parents have been farming for years.
Annie started growing watermelons on her parents three-acre farm in Mbeere with only a starting capital of Sh20,000, which she used to buy seeds. Soon she realised that she needed more money to invest in a proper drip irrigation system. A drip system can run a farmer up to Sh200,000, a sum which many small scale farmers can’t afford.
The option for small-scale farmers is to partially irrigate the crop and plan for the fruit-formation stage to coincide with the rainy season. This means you plant seeds two to three weeks before the start of rains.
Annie plants the seeds in a nursery for 3 weeks before planting the seedlings on the farm. The process from nursery to harvest takes about 3 months depending on the climate.
With the first profits Annie made from the harvest she invested in a proper drip irrigation system that includes water pumps, hand spraying guns and pipes.
Annie investest Sh80,000 per acre, this covers cost of seeds, labour, chemicals, irrigation, salaries and fertiliser. With good management one can harvest 30 to 40 tonnes per acre and a kilo of watermelon sells for between Sh15 and Sh35.
During Annies last harverst she raked in 30 tonnes of watermelon which made her a net profit of at least Sh600,000! Imagine banking that kind of cash every 3 months.
Annies shares her story with the hopes of changing Kenya’s mindset towards farmers, she says that many people think that a farmer is an old and uneducated person.
“I am a living proof that farming pays and can be done by anyone. Farming is a profession of hope. To those interested in farming never ever give up,” Annie concludes.