People Daily

Accountant finds balance in yams

Nicholas Akoko quit his job to go into yam farming, which he says has changed his fortunes. He makes Sh100,000 every season

Nicholas Akoko surprised many when he ditched a job that some of his friends considered prestigious to start farming. However, Akoko says the accounting job’s salary could sustain his needs.

“I was living from one payday to the other,” he says. His gross salary was Sh18,000. The accountant says he never imagined leaving the pens and calculators to toil at a farm.

Commonly known by the locals as ‘major Akoko’, the farmer says he went into yam farming in 2009 after being employed for two and half years.

He says upon coming back home he was lucky to be one of the beneficiaries of Kimira-Oluch Irrigation project undertaken by the Ministry of Regional Development and African Development Bank in Rachuonyo North and Homa Bay Town sub-counties.

Armed with Sh15,000, the accountant started work on his farm. He first studied the viability of yam farming on a 10×10 plot before he could upscale his production after realising its viability. After the first harvest, he made Sh9,500. This amount has increased to Sh100,000 per season.

Yams take between six and 10 months to mature. His farm is located in a fairly plain terrain with black cotton soil, which he says is proven to be suitable for survival of the crop. He says on average each stem of yam weighs about five kg and retails at Sh150 per kg depending on the market demand.

Akoko says yam farming is easy compared to other crops. “It does not cost much to produce yams. What you need is to keep the farm clean and weed-free and ensure water supply is properly regulated to keep the crops healthy,” he says. The farmer says the crop sells like gold hence market is not a big problem.

Akoko points out that he remains in close contact with his potential markets that he gets to interact with regularly via social media. “Market is not a problem at all, I find ready market and my customers troop in daily and conveniently get the commodity at my doorstep,” he says.

Apart from yams, Akoko also grows other crops including tissue culture banana, tomatoes, onions, oranges, paw paw and mangoes on the his two and half acre farm. The farmer says that bananas are also earning him good income. “I made Sh10,000 from the first harvest. I have 213 tissue culture banana plants,” he says.

Akoko says through farming he has climbed up the ladder of success and is living a decent life. “Farming has made my life shine. I never thought I could be living comfortably. I am a testimony that farming is a smart way to make money,” says Akoko. However, his happy tale is not without sad moments.

Akoko says acquiring local labour force and inadequate access to agricultural extension officers remain some of his major challenges. “I am forced to source for labour from villages far off since those around my area are not willing to get their hands dirty,” he says, adding that farming is a golden opportunity for the youth.

In bid to enhance production, Akoko recommends that fellow farmers use certified hybrid seeds. In future, Akoko plans to venture into horticulture.

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