Thursday, April 6, 2017

Nurse with a passion for agribusiness

Thomas Ngaruiya
In Muiriene village in the heart of Meru County, Mrs. Doris Mutirithia’s 1-acre farm has since 2010 helped to support her family by paying school fees for her two children through the proceeds received from the sale of farm produce.
In a good season, the government nurse at Kibaranyaki Hospital in Imenti Central makes more than 100,000 from the sale of cabbages, capsicum, carrots, or potatoes. There are times when she takes her produce to Gakoromoni market in the morning before heading to work. She divides her time between her profession, family and her agribusiness.
Doris Mutirithia inspecting her cabbages

“Farming is the only business that can allow me enough time with my family, profession and still serve humanity by providing quality farm produce," says Mrs. Mutirithia.
Initially, it was hard for her to know whether she was making a profit of loss. She formalised her farm records when she adopted Sokopepe’s Farm Records Management Information System (FARMIS) in 2016. A neighbour who had adopted the innovation recommended it to her as an easy way to manage her agricultural enterprises.
She has been doing crop rotation on a three-acre farm to improve soil stability and control pests and diseases. Like many farmers in the region, lack of market information and inadequate information on best agricultural practices used to be a challenge. Sokopepe has since addressed this.
She says that Sokopepe has enabled her to have better control of her economic destiny. Although she spends most of her time working at Kibaranyaki Hospital and with her family, she always ensures that she spends a bit of time at her farm.
“Sokopepe has helped me to embrace agribusiness. I am able to track all my enterprises and farm expenses,” said Mrs. Mutirithia.
Last year she received her first profit and loss statement after selling cabbages. She is now able to use record keeping data to know which crops are more profitable. This has helped her to make right farming decisions. She plans to venture into pig farming using the profits received from the sale of farm produce.
Doris Mutirithia preparing onions for storage
Each season she is able to know which crops are eating into her “profits” and which ones are more profitable. FARMIS has allowed her to evaluate her income and expenses. This has eased her decision-making process.
“I can now account for every expense that I incur in the farm. Initially i never kept farm records and I could never tell how much I was getting from the sale of farm produce,” said Mrs. Mutirithia.
She said that the record keeping data has made her learn from her past mistakes. She now only invests in profitable farm enterprises.
Sokopepe has assigned her a Production Information Agent (PIA) who visits her farm once a week. Besides record keeping training, the PIA also provides her with extension services, market information, and linkages.
She has urged other professionals to embrace farming as a way of investing their money. She also urged other farmers to formalise their records to improve their economic gains and increase profit.
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