Growing up in the cosmopolitan town of Kitengela, Kajiado County, in the sleepy and dusty village of Mutalani, Jackson admired his father who was a pastoralist and owned 12 cows. He knew that when he grew up he would have as many cows as his father did. Fast forward to present, at 35 years, Jackson operated in a different line. Becoming an agripreneur. Practicing tomato cultivation on his 2 acre piece of land that he inherited from his father. “I realized that I could dream as big as my mind allowed me to.”
Agriculture is the backbone of Kenya’s economy and central to its development strategy. 75% of Kenyans many of whom are rural small scale farmers earn their living from agriculture. The link between food security and the role small holder farmers like Jackson play cannot be ignored.
Before joining HiH EA, Jackson, a father of 2 practiced subsistence farming growing maize and beans on his 2 acre piece of land that he inherited from his father. “All my neighbours grew maize and beans. I always felt that I could do more than that but I had no one to make me open up my mind and diversify. Not until I joined Kuma SHG whose members were been trained by HiH EA. In the group we were trained on the importance of saving and there we birthed our table banking concept. Saving as little as Ksh 50.”
After HiH EA enterprise development training, Jackson embarked on new idea- Tomato farming. “Most of my friends laughed when I told them of the idea saying that I would not get good yields because of the dry land. I reasoned that agripreneurs are risk takers.”
“My trainer taught me to identify gaps in our areas when we want to start enterprises. My area is very dry and tomatoes are a rare gold.”
Thereof, Jackson borrowed Ksh 5000 from the group’s table banking and purchased tomato seedlings and fertilizer. To adopt irrigation, he approached an agricultural development organization which tailor made a 20 litre drip irrigation pump for him.
With many young people his age moving into urban areas in search of better lives but are still struggling to make ends meet as jobs become elusive, Jackson continues to reap from his sweat.
Jackson’s income has risen from an average Ksh 2000 per month which could barely take care of his family to an average income of Ksh 40,000 .His major markets are his group members and the residents of the nearby Kitengela town. With the increased income, he has been able to expand his farm to 3 acres and has bought a bigger irrigation pump which he uses to irrigate his 20,000 tomato plants.
He has enrolled his two children in a nearby private school. “I want them to have a good formal education and get good jobs. However, I would not restrict any of them from being a farmer like me. It pays.”
His future plan is to engage in large scale horticultural farming.