When the country was put on lockdown in March 2020 to curb the spread of COVID-19, many were thrown off the balance wondering what to do with the free time they had in excess while at home.
But for Kiplagat Tallam alias Legembe, an entrepreneur based in Eldama Ravine Town, Baringo County, it was a time to focus on something else as the limited access to the nation’s capital – Nairobi – meant he would no longer stock his clothing business.
Time was ripe for him to embark on fruit farming, an activity that he had for a long time done as hobby.
This is when he prepared a hectare of his land near Mid-World area in Esageri, Mogotio Sub County and planted 600 papaws, a move that had a success rate of over 90 per cent.
“After my businesses were affected by Covid-19 and many people losing their jobs, I thought of what I could do to generate an income and the idea of planting papaws came in mind. I prepared a hectare of land and planted 600 seedlings where 550 survived and grew to maturity.” He narrated.
Kiplagat who is now selling his papaws to both retailers and wholesalers, said that he started selling his papaws April this year and he sells 200-300 papaws weekly adding that a kilo going for Ksh. 35 per Kilo.
According to the businessman and now a budding farmer, Baringo County has a lot of potential in agriculture especially horticulture but the greatest challenge is lack of water for irrigation.
Kiplagat who is also a member and official at the Chamber of Commerce in the County, is now using his influence to push the County government to put more resources and water projects like construction of water pans and drilling boreholes to help boost the untapped potential.
He further calls on the County government to provide farmers with or subsidize inputs like fertilizers and ensure that there are extension officers guiding them in what they are doing.
“There were no extension officers visiting our farms and guiding us on how to plant and take care of our crops; the County government should have extension officers who do farm visits and advice farmers in whatever they are doing.” He said.
Kiplagat who engaged in business at a young age now calls on the youth to embrace farming like that of growing papaws noting that it does not require a lot of capital.
“Fruit farming is profitable and does not require a lot of capital. This is what our youths should be doing now instead of waiting for handouts from politicians. However, the County Government needs to also put in place strategies to empower youths in Baringo County to practice farming.” Kiplagat noted.
He also appealed to the youths to take advantage of the vast, fertile land which may still be under their parent’s ownership saying that agriculture is more lucrative compared to white color jobs.
“The land is available. What one has to do is to prepare the land and plant papaws you do not have to buy fertilizer you can use manure from your livestock and it does not require a lot of water.” He added.
Papaws take 8-12 months to mature and start bearing fruits ready for harvest.
Kiplagat told Baringo News that he is selling his papaws to buyers in Nairobi, Eldama Ravine town and others buy from his farm.