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Bomet teacher finds fortune in chilli farming

By Nikko Tanui | June 21st 2016
Pepper farmer. John Cheramgoi from Manaret village in Sotik Constituency [PHOTO: NIKKO TANUI]

Red pepper farming is increasingly becoming one of the hottest crops for farmers in south Rift region. One of the farmers who is beginning to reap the benefit of the chilli he planted in May last year in his two acres portion of his vast land is John Cheramgoi from Manaret village in Sotik Constituency, Bomet County.

“I began by planting the chilli seeds in a seedbed and after one month I uprooted the sprouting seedlings and planted them in the main farm which I had thoroughly prepared by ploughing using a tractor at the total cost of Sh8,000,” he said.

He added that after four months of waiting, he begun harvesting after every five days the Chillies which had turned red meaning that they were ready for harvesting. The primary school teacher said that he was motivated to go into chilli farming following frustrations with maize farming.

“I used to farm at least eight acres of maize, but after calculating the profit I noted that it only earned me a paltry Sh20,000 which I considered too low,” said Cheramgoi.

The farmer revealed that since venturing into chilli farming exactly one year ago, he earned at least Sh160,000 in profit from his two acres under the crop.

“Chilli farming is clearly more profitable than maize farming. The only challenge in the county is that weeds grow too fast especially during rainy season and I have to spend Sh3,000 a month to remove the weeds. This is what cuts into the profits,” said Cheramgoi.

He added that besides spending money on weeding the other cost is in the purchase of herbicides to prevent the plants from drying up.

Cheramgoi said that after harvesting the crop and drying them under an airtight polythene structure, a local buyer usually comes around to purchase the dried produce at Sh100 per kg and takes them for processing in a factory in Eldoret and another one in Nairobi.

“Before that another buyer used to come to the farm and would buy a kilogramme of green chillies at Sh50 per kilogramme,” he said.

Besides selling the produce, Cheramgoi says that he had devised means of controlling pests in the farm using chilli concoction.

Income generation

“Local farmers have discovered that when you ground the chillies, mix it with water and spray on crops such as vegetables it prevents crops from being attacked by pests such as aphids, cut worms among others,” he said.

Anglican Church of Kenya Diocese of Kericho administrative secretary Rev Ernest Ngeno whose church has been leading the campaign through the Anglican Development Services (ADS) central rift disaster risk reduction programme says they have tens of farmers specialising in chilli farming in Bomet and Narok County.

“The church not only aims at preaching the gospel, but also economically empower its members, that is why the church in collaboration with Diakonie Emergency Aid started the programme,” said Rev Ngeno.

Besides being an income generation project for the local farmers, the crop had become a means of controlling marauding elephants for maize farmers in Transmara.

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