A number of factors contribute towards turning an individual into an entrepreneur; passion, unemployment, underemployment, or the urge to make additional cash. But only the right kind of business, along with a number of other elements will make you a successful entrepreneur. Watermelon farming is one of such businesses, the kind that will rake in the cash.
28-year-old Annie Nyaga quit her job of six months as a purchasing assistant in Nairobi, Kenya, to become a watermelon farmer, which according to her, has brought her great joy. “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,” she told the Saturday Nation, a Kenyan newspaper.
This graduate of biomedical science turned farmer, said she settled for watermelons because they do very well in her home town, and because “they are high-yielding, mature faster and do well in the market.”
Nyaga started growing the fruit with a capital of Sh20, 000 ($198), on her parents’ three-acre farm and in six years, her farming business is raking in profits of about a million Kenyan shillings within a three month space. According to her, watermelons require a lot of water especially at fruit-formation stage,therefore with the money made from her first harvest, she invested in a drip irrigation system.
However, installing a proper drip system might be costly for small-scale-farmers. Nyaga’s advice is for them to partially irrigate the crop and plan for the fruit-formation stage to coincide with the rainy season. This simply means that they plant the seeds two to three weeks before the rains begin.
Nyaga says with proper management, an investment of about Sh80, 000 to 100,000 per acre, the cost of seeds, labour, irrigation, fertiliser, chemicals, and salaries inclusive, will produce about 40 tonnes of watermelon. Her last harvest of 30 tonnes, sold to brokers at Sh28 per kilo, had her smiling to the bank with a profit of over Sh600, 000, all expenses subtracted.
“I am a living proof that farming pays and can be done by anyone,” she says. “Farming is a profession of hope. To those interested in farming, never ever give up.”
Annie Nyaga, is not the only farmer to testify to the ‘goodness’ of Watermelon farming, in a four-year-old post on Nairaland, a young Nigerian farmer describes the business as a “money spinner,” one that is capital intensive in terms of land, seedlings and labour but has high returns.
Nyaga wants the attitude of people changed towards farming, as many see it as a ‘job’ for old and illiterate people, when in truth, it is a career that young people should be involved in. “… Agriculture is diverse and interesting, and young people ought to view it differently if we are to develop,” she said. She challenges the Kenyan government and other African counties to make huge investments in agriculture, and make it a viable option of income generation.