- William Simiyu has transformed his over seven-acre farm into a value addition hub.
- A retired teacher, Simiyu started growing sugarcane on his farm, just like every other farmer in the area.
After a one-and-a-half hour drive on a bumpy murram road, we enter into William Simiyu’s home in Navakholo, Kakamega, where we find him packing sun dried mushrooms into a gunny bag.
He is doing it fast; racing against the setting sun to ensure that he stashes away his produce before it gets moist due to the breeze.
Under the rays of the setting sun, a dole of doves, a brood of chickens and a herd of goats trot towards their pens. A quick scan of the vast compound also shows a greenhouse, palm trees, banana stems, eucalyptus trees and several grass-thatched huts.
As soon as he finishes packing the dry oyster mushroom, Simiyu lifts the 90kg bag saying “these are ready for my market” as his eyes light up.
Simiyu is a jack of all trades. He has transformed his over seven-acre farm into a value addition hub.
“I enjoy learning new ways of putting my farm into maximum use. Every time a new method of farming is introduced, I never shy away from trying a hand in it,” a jovial Simiyu says as he tightly secures the mouth of the gunny bag.
A retired teacher, Simiyu started growing sugarcane on his farm, just like every other farmer in the area. However, with time, the 18-month long wait for the cane to mature, coupled with poor prices, saw him grow more maize.
However, when palm trees were introduced by the Kenya Agricultural Livestock Research Organisation officers in 2002, he was among those who readily picked them up, although he wasn’t sure about the farming.
“I had never seen palm trees in Kakamega. For me it was a farming shock.”
To start the palm tree farming, Simiyu bought six seedlings at Sh100 each. He later increased the number to 50. As instructed, he dug holes and put in two tins of compost manure.