After 27 years of employment, Lydia Kinyua quit her job as a counselling psychologist and got into farming. The 50-year-old has sub-divided her 10-acre farm into two; she grows crops in one portion and rears poultry and dairy cows in another.
She had to part with Sh3 million – a combination of her savings and severance pay –to develop the farm situated on the Nanyuki-Isiolo road in Meru County. The farm being in the semi-arid Lewa area in Buuri Sub County, the farmer had to sink a borehole, which she said consumed most of her investments in the farm.
She also consulted and went for benchmarking in Israel before she embarked on farming.
From the returns she gets from the sale of onions and snow peas, which are the main horticulture crops she grows, she says that she does not regret quitting her job and is now focused in expanding her undertaking. “It feel good to create jobs to my Lewa community,” she says of the 15 casuals she employs on her farm.
On her farm, Lydia practices overhead irrigation through use of sprinklers and drip method. “Despite many complaining of rainfall shortages, l am still moving on with my farming in this arid place. The change in rainfall pattern made me shift, from the traditional way of farming,” says Lydia.
Before embarking on farming, like other new farmers Lydia had challenges on which crop to settle on to cultivate. She started by growing flowers and later ventured into arrowroots, then as she was interacting with her workers, they let her know that the snow peas were doing well in the area and were on high demand.
“When you start farming, there are no companies that will come to orient you on farming unless you are able to join groups or attend seminars,” Lydia says.
Snow peas are fetching prices between Sh130 and Sh200 per kilogram while the onions range between Sh60 to Sh80. She sells her produce to traders who flock her farm.