Teacher offers lessons on mixed farming

Kenya: While most teachers in Kenya cannot raise Sh50,000 without disposing of an asset or borrowing a loan from the bank, Edna Koech, bets on her farm in Kapletundo village, Sotik Constituency, Bomet County.

Mrs Koech, a Biology and Chemistry teacher at Litein Boys High School in the nearby Kericho County told Smart Harvest that she does farming as a hobby, yet it pays handsomely.

“I grew up in a rural home and I’ve been farming since I was born. My passion for agriculture grows everyday,” she says.

She grows vegetables, bananas, passion fruits, hedge flowers and rears dairy cows. The passion fruits are her new venture and currently the most profitable. She has 155 fruit trees in a quarter acre that she planted one year ago. She started harvesting the fruits in July and has not stopped since then.

“I earn at least Sh40,000 every month from passion fruits that I pick from this small piece of land. Every week, I harvest between 120-170 kilos earning between Sh8,000 and Sh12,000 from the fruits that go for Sh70 per kilo,” she says. She says that the crop is not expensive to grow and maintain. The grafted seedlings are readily available at established nurseries from as low as Sh20 per seedling.

“I first dug square holes measuring 60 centimetres in all directions with spacing of 1.5metres between rows and two metres from one fruit to the next. I filled them with manure from my dairy unit, mixed with the top soil after disinfecting the holes and two weeks later, I planted the seedlings,” she says.

Koech says that the group that supplied her with the seedlings also sold them essential fungicides and pesticides that each farmer was advised to use after every two weeks to prevent blight and stem-end rot diseases that affect passion fruits.

“Passion fruits need enough water throughout and I’m, sometimes, forced to water them when it is dry. I have two sprinklers that serve this function whenever the need for water arises,” she says.

She says getting market for the fruits was at first a challenge but now she has a constant buyer who picks them every week and pays promptly.

Koech utilises the rows between the passion fruits to grow carrots, coriander, onions, strawberries and beetroots, that do not require a lot of space.

She also plants traditional vegetables like soik or sucha (black night shade), and sagek (spider weed) that she cooks for her family and sells the surplus.

“Besides eating the crops within the passion fruits rows, some are known to repel harmful pests. Coriander (Dhania), onions and sagek prevent pests from attacking the passion fruits,” she says. Next to the passion fruit plot is a quarter acre of bananas that she started growing six years ago.


She has 120 stools of tissues culture bananas that produce throughout the year. “I established the first crop in 2008 and they have since multiplied. All I do here is to add manure to the holes, harvest the ripe bananas and enjoy,” she says.

Koech sells at least ten bunches every week at Sh500 each earning her between Sh5,000 and Sh10,000. She also keeps three dairy cows and each produces an average of 18 litres daily that she sells in nearby markets.

Behind her family home, the teacher has a nursery bed where she grows hedge flowers popular with institutions and homes. At some point, she says, there were around 50,000 seedlings that she sells at Sh10 each.

“I’m not sure how much I have earned so far from this seedbed, but I think it is more than Sh150,000. I mostly sell the plants to schools and colleges that use them as hedges,” she says.

The mother of four says that farming has helped her pay school fees and live comfortably, a feat that could have been difficult had she depended only on the salary.