Ambitious farmers (4)
We believe that working with professional farmer cooperatives is an investment in a stable, prosperous agri-sector, in the economy and in wider society. Ambitious organised farmers across the world want to develop, become entrepreneurs and business partners, add value and move up the supply chain. This has a positive impact on economic growth, poverty alleviation, inclusiveness, food and nutrition security, and climate resilience and mitigation.
We interviewed 9 ambitious farmers from Tanzania (5), Kenya (2) and Ethiopia (2) to find out if their situations have changed since becoming members of a cooperative. Each week, you can read an interview.
Farmer 4: Paul Kariuki from Kenya
Paul Kariuki is a 38-year-old potato farmer living in Kenya. In addition to potatoes, he also grows peas and cabbage for crop rotation. He is married and has three children, a 9-year-old girl, a 5-year-old boy, and a 1.5-year-old girl. Since 2019, Paul has been a member of the Starlight Farmers Co-operative Society LTD.
As a young family man, Paul joined Starlight with the desire to progress in his farming career, which serves as his main source of livelihood. He is the neighbour of the Chairman of Starlight. He got interested in the cooperative when he saw the Chairman’s crop was doing very well compared to the other farmers in the neighbourhood.
He says, "Before I joined Starlight, I was farming but struggled to break even. Frequent crop failures resulted from a lack of knowledge about general agronomical practices and the impact of climate change on agriculture. This situation meant that every penny I earned went towards meeting the basic needs of my family. I also had to engage in casual work alongside farming to earn a living."
Paul Kariuki with other youth during the National Youth Conference in 2022
Climate-smart agricultural practices
As a member of Starlight, Paul has adopted the following climate-smart agricultural practices:
- Soil testing and the use of crop-based fertilizers
- Using certified seeds
- Employing surface planting for potatoes
- Implementing minimum tillage through mechanisation
- Applying mulching techniques
- Using weather information
- Practicing crop rotation
The adoption of these practices has resulted in a significant increase in yield, from 3 tonnes per acre to a minimum of 10 tonnes per acre, leading to enhanced profitability. Moreover, there has been a reduction in crop diseases, and crop failure due to rain shortage has been completely eradicated.
Paul has completed the training on youth empowerment by Agriterra, which enabled him to take the lead in establishing the Starlight Youth Council through the formation of Starlight Young Group. This has not only provided him with additional income but has also allowed him to become an influential figure in the empowerment of youth in agriculture.
As a result of increased income, Paul no longer needs to do casual work, and he has been able to invest in land while also providing for his family.
Additionally, Paul has become a lead farmer in Starlight, sharing his knowledge with other farmers through training and practical learning from his farm. He has transferred his knowledge to over 400 farmers whom he trained on climate-smart agricultural practices as part of the Training of Trainers programme under Starlight, and also to 25 youth members under Starlight Youth Group.
Currently, Paul has two ambitions: "I want to expand my potato production acreage and continue to impact other farmers through my work. I also aim to empower young farmers to appreciate agriculture as a viable source of livelihood. I believe that the adoption of climate-smart agricultural practices and youth empowerment is the future of agriculture."