Josiah Safari, a police officer hailing from Kisumu is a farmer who went against all odds to take up farming in Kyuso-Ngomeni, Kitui County.
Kyuso is a semi-arid area without sufficient rain of which id didn’t stop Josiah from cultivating horticultural crops on 3 acres out of 10.
The policeman transformed his farm regardless of the dessert conditions by farming capsicum, watermelons, capsicum and rearing fish.
Josiah who graduated from Mt Kenya University after studying security management said that farming was his passion. Josiah also holds a diploma in public relations and diplomacy.
“I always dreamt of running an agribusiness that would have a positive impact on my life and encourage people in this dry part of Ukambani.”
However, his first venture was into the food industry when he started a small café in his village where he used to sell tea and mandazi.
He later dug a well after his area experienced shortages of water. “To my surprise, the facility produced plenty of clean water than I had expected. I decided to pipe the water and supply at the local shopping center,” he recalls.
After discovering the opportunity, he decided to pipe the water to his home, 2 km away from the shopping center where he also supplied water to the neighbors.
“The water was still in excess and that is how I ended up getting into farming four years ago to maximize its use. I established an irrigation system on the farm and started growing watermelons and capsicums,” he says.
The horticultural products he farmed had high demand and he received orders from towns such as Mwingi.
“I was doing all this from far away in Kisumu and I still farm over the phone. I use my smartphone to monitor and communicate with my three full-time workers and sometimes 30 laborers that I hire on a need basis,” he said.
Josiah Safari added that the internet was a great source of information and knowledge to him. “I Google, check YouTube videos and follow social media users with similar interests. I recently came across Mkulima Young and it has come in handy in marketing my produce and interacting with other farmers,” he says.
His journey though had a couple of challenges altogether.
“It’s hard to instill the passion you have in something like farming to other people, especially those who work for you. Given that I am in the disciplined forces, I am a perfectionist, and when I try to instill such passion to my workers, they think it is a sort of punishment.”
Josiah Safari still works as a police officer and as such the distance between his workplace and his farm also is a challenge for him.
“From Kisumu to my farm it is exactly 936km, coupled with work commitments I can only manage a maximum of one visit per month.
This makes it hard to expand and invest in other technologies such as greenhouses,” he says.
His advice to potential farmers is that they need to start with intensive market research before venturing.
“If you know the market trends and what is needed by the time your crop grows, you will not go wrong. In my case, I have farmed the capsicum for the last four years continuously. This is my primary crop but over time I have added the others like pawpaw of the Malkia variety and fish.”
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