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No looking back for engineering graduate turned avocado farmer

Jeremiah Mbaka inspects his Hass avocado variety at his Magenche farm Kisii County. [Sammy Omingo, Standard]

Jeremiah Mbaka obtained a diploma in automotive engineering from Rongo University in 2007 and went to South Sudan for two years doing various jobs.

Mbaka, 40, returned home in 2010 and was employed as a sales representative with Sameer Africa in Nairobi for five years.

During his tenure at Sameer, he marvelled at the high tonnage of avocados being exported out of the country through the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

In 2016, he resigned and went back to his Bomoseri village home in Magenche area in Bomachoge Borabu, Kisii County to venture into Hass avocado farming.

He started off with 300 avocado trees which matured in two years. From the avocado, he has been earning about Sh500,000 annually. Early this year, he planted 200 more avocado trees in a parcel of land he purchased using proceeds from avocado farming.

Mbaka said his avocado trees are on the family’s three-acre farm where he also plants vegetables, onions and sweet potatoes. He said neighbours thought he was crazy when he uprooted tea trees to start the project.

Early this year, he started rearing chicken after acquiring 500 chicks at the cost of Sh400,000, which are now seven months old. He will use the organic manure from the chicken project in growing Hass avocado.

“The vegetables I have planted in the farm serve as food to the chickens I am rearing which in return will provide manure to be used in the farm since I was informed that most of our customers in Europe prefer crops planted with organic manure,” said Mbaka.

Like Mbaka (pictured), Moses Nyang’au has also seen success in avocado farming. When he ventured into avocado farming in 2013, fellow villagers thought he had made a grievous mistake.

Seven years later, he has won their respect and admiration.

Nyang’au, 31, currently has 300 trees of Hass avocado on three-quarters of an acre on their family five-acres farm at Rikenye Village in Rigoma Ward in Nyamira County.

He said he has been making over Sh400,000 annually since the avocado trees matured in 2016. He sells his avocado in Nairobi where buyers acquire them for export to European countries.

“Hass avocado is mainly for export and is the next big thing in farming,” he said, adding that he used to purchase local avocado varieties and bananas in homes and sold them in Keroka and Kisii towns after he finished secondary school in 2010.

He normally sells one avocado weighing between 200 grammes and 300 grammes at Sh15 to the dealers who normally make orders and travel to his farm.

Nyang’au said he never went to college after completing his Form Four studies at Mochenwa Secondary School in 2010, obtaining a C-plain grade. Instead, he started doing business immediately after high school.

“I have been able to buy a lorry and a Toyota Probox, built an eight-room house and bought four grade cattle courtesy of the Hass avocado farming. I have no regrets whatsoever for engaging in farming full time,” said Nyang’au.

He said he uses organic manure made from ash and cow dung as manure and also to keep the avocado trees safe from infections.

The father of two said that he normally does most of the work in the farm and only engages casual labourers during weeding, pruning and harvesting of the crop. That, he said, minimises costs.

Nyang’au said Hass avocado is the most popular variety at the moment since it has a ready market in Europe compared to other varieties.

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