Annie Nyaga is a 28-year-old graduate of Egerton University. In 2007 she bagged a degree in biomedical science. She ditched her corporate job to become a watermelon farmer. Today she is a millionaire.
After her education, Annie secured the job of a purchasing assistant in a firm in Nairobi. Unfortunately the job lasted for as short as 6 months. The record keeping, accounting and procurement job did not give her the satisfaction she hoped for. She found it boring so she quit.
In search of fulfillment Annie Nyaga joined in the family business of growing watermelons. This was a most viable farming option in her locality. Annie kicked off the watermelon farming in her home in Mbeere, Embu County. As against the initial 6 months in a corporate firm, Annie has successfully farmed watermelon for 6 years now.
“I settled for watermelons because they do very well in Mbeere. They are high-yielding, mature faster and do well in the market”
The agro-millionaire farms the fruit under the Farm2Home trade name. She started out on her parents’ 3-acre farm with a capital outlay of Sh20,000 ($197). First she purchased the seeds and then proceeded to securing a good irrigation system for the farm. She mentions that a natural alternative to the expensive drip irrigation is to “plant seeds two to three weeks before the start of rains.”
“Lack of adequate water leads to low-quality fruit. If one has water problems, then drip irrigation is the best alternative”
After several trials, she settled with the hybrid seeds. She plants them first at the nursery and later transfers to the farm, say after 3 weeks. In 3 months she is ready for her harvest. Annie testifies that watermelons yield high returns; with a high possibility of harvesting about 30 to 40 tonnes per acre.
In all, Annie Nyaga, the fruit millionaire says she invests a range of Sh80,000 – Sh100,000 ($790- $988) per acre. With that amount she takes care of seed and fertilizer procurement, labour, chemicals, irrigation and salaries. Depending on the season, Annie says a kilo of watermelon goes for Sh15 – Sh35 (15-35 USD cents). Thus, her last harvest and sales of about 30 tonnes of watermelon fruit yielded a gross sum of Sh840,000($8299) and a profit of Sh600,000 ($5928).
“I do not know how I would be fairing now if I had stuck to my purchasing job. Going into farming was a good decision… I am a living proof that farming pays and can be done by anyone. Farming is a profession of hope. To those interested in farming never ever give up.”