Like many people last year Deborah Wanjiku turned to farming after Covid 19 hit. Deborah Wanjiku shares on her journey of Lemon grass farming with all the twists, turns and victories along the way. Looking back, she says she wished she has no regrets but wishes she had taken time to actively source information before going into the venture. Because what do you do when the person you are relying on to teach you a thing or two is reluctant to share their knowledge? This was particularly frustrating especially because with lemon grass being an export crop, you need to nail the standards.
Q: Was it always business for you?
It was business. My family is heavy on agriculture. So even when I went to University and got a degree in economic ad statistics I knew I would need to find a way to make money and getting a job would take time.
Q: Did you formulate a business plan
No, I just started. Because I felt I needed to have produce first before all these other decisions would be made. It is not like starting a business in the hotel industry where you can cook anticipate what your product will be and what you can make from it.
Q: you are a young woman; how did it even cross your mind to start farming?
Well my grandmother is a coffee farmer so I grew up seeing her take care of her coffee beans and make decent money from it. And to be honest I had thought about it before but kept postponing. So when Covid hit and I finally had the opportunity it made sense to start
Q: what has been the biggest challenge sourcing market
For one to capture the external market you need to be able to produce a ton of the produce. I am a small scale farmer therefore not able to produce a ton a week . so now my produce always lands in the hands of brokers which really reduces the profit margins
Q: You mentioned that your produce is mainly exported, how did you penetrate the market?
Well, remember the farmer that I told you did not want to share information with me on lemon grass farming? Well there was a time he an order larger than he could provide and ended up using my lemon grass to top up. After that another farmer also approached me because he needed to also meet the order demand.