When Eric Mumo graduated from
university with a First Class honours degree in 2009, he got several exciting
job offers, but he declined them all.
Fresh from Jomo
Kenyatta University of Science and Technology, the statistics graduate
opted for commercial farming and set up his base in the most unlikely of
places — his arid village of Nzangathi in Kitui County.
He started with
Sh150,000 of personal savings that has now grown into a thriving farm worth
Sh16 million in assets and 12 full time employees.
In just five
years, Mr Mumo has built up a steady enterprise which includes dairy, fish,
poultry and horticultural units on his 15-acre land and won several innovation
At first, his
peers and some family members feared that he was gambling with his future
instead of seeking formal employment.
They felt, and
genuinely so, that his good academic papers and young age should not be
channelled into risky and unpredictable ventures like farming but rather into
the flashy corporate world.
determined to pursue his ambition, and armed with passion for his dreams and a
little capital, Mumo bought a Friesian dairy cow.
“I bought the
first dairy cow in 2009, and soon after I added two more. I started supplying
fresh milk to local restaurants” he says.
Each cow was
producing on average 14 litres daily, which he sold at Sh60 per litre at the
nearby shops, earning Sh2,520 daily.
With the steady
income of Sh75,000 per month, Mr Mumo invested the profits in more cows. Today
he has 28 cows.
came when he decided to diversify into tomatoes and water melons. “My
decision to stop relying on rain-fed agriculture and to engage in drip
irrigation was the turning point as this ensured I was in business
throughout the year.”
went full blast when he sunk a borehole, which enabled him to put his father’s
entire 15-acre farm on drip irrigation.
“In the first
season, I harvested hundreds of tonnes of water melon, which I sold in Nairobi,
recovering the costs of my investment and bought an Isuzu pick-up truck,” he
With a kilo of
water melon then going for Sh32, each trip to Nairobi was fetching on average
Sh48,000, and he could make several in one week.
When the Saturday
Nation sought Mumo for this interview, we found a delegation of 80 farmers from
the Embu Anglican Church Diocese learning from his simple, but effective
The farmer has
been recognised by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO),
the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Ministry of Agriculture for his
outstanding innovations in food security.
Last year, he was
listed among the most innovative and promising young farmers in the country,
besides being pre-qualified as a dependable supplier of fish fingerlings in the
Mumo stands out
because of his ability to integrate all the farming units, where they
inter-depend on each other to reduce production costs.
diversified into commercial poultry and fish farming, all the units now depend
on each other and nothing goes to waste.
established a poultry incubator which gives us 528 chicks every three weeks and
10 fish ponds each with a capacity to hold more than 3,000 fish but the demand
for both is overwhelming,” he said.
He explains that all the four units
— dairy, horticulture, poultry and fish — support each other.
goes to fish ponds to support the algae fed on by fish, the enriched pond water
is channelled into the horticulture farm together with recycled dairy manure
while the waste vegetables are fed to the chickens in a fascinating cycle which
saves production costs.”
The farmer says
Ukambani region can easily sustain itself if only enough water was made
available to every home.
Every week, he is
kept on his toes by overwhelming orders to supply all sorts of produce
including day-old chicks, tomatoes, fish, milk to the market.
In a good month,
proceeds from milk, poultry, fish, fruits and vegetables can fetch him
Sh500,000 gross. He makes more when he sells in bulk.
Mumo urges the
youth to dirty their hands to make money.
His farm has
created 12 direct jobs, and many others indirectly.
Mumo intends to
turn his farm into a demonstration centre where farmers across the region can
visit and learn from the simple ideas and replicate them in their homes.
HAS NOT BEEN EASY
Since Eric Mumo
ventured into commercial farming, he has learned on the job the hard way and
credit to finance his projects, to marketing his farm produce and managing
workers, he faced challenges he never expected.
Getting a bank
loan to invest in farming was his worst nightmare because the interest rates were
high and there is no grace period.
“Banks are asking
us to start repaying their loans in the first month, and yet there is no crop
that can yield results in such short time.”
Mumo urges the
government to establish a branch of the Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC)
in every county to support farmers.
challenge has been lack of skilled labour, which has forced him to invest
heavily in training his workers.
“Most people who
seek jobs in farms are semi-illiterate. Such workers cannot manage a poultry
house, or monitor the health of fish or dairy cows,” he explains, adding he
incurred huge losses until he started training his workers.
explains that agriculture extension services are not sufficient.
sustain a double digit economic growth if agriculture is made a compulsory
subject up to Form Four to make the youth stop their obsession with white
Mumo has also
learnt to invest in marketing and quality of his produce.
“I’m very keen on
the quality of my products because I target mostly Nairobi and export market
where consumers demand the best,” he says.