- Many young people, especially ladies, have been viewed not to love farming and agribusiness.
- But this is not the case for Lucy Wangari from Kerugoya, Kirinyaga county.
- She is determined to own 5% of the market share by working closely with other onion farmers.
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Wangari, a lead consultant at the onion doctor, a consulting company that deals with onion farmers, is making fortunes from the farm produce.
For instance, in a candid interview with YEN.com.gh’s Michael Ollinga, Wangari said when she was a farm manager, they did 5 acres of onions which yielded 12,000 kgs per acre.
With one kilogram of onions retailing at GHc3.80 70 (the best the market can offer), this could have translated to GHc230k at a go from the five acres.
Aaverage market prices however fluctuate between GHc1.60 per kg and GHc3.80 for 70kg thus an average of GHc2.70 per kg which would still fetch GHc160k.
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In the interview, Wangari opened up about the challenges she faces in agribusiness, her targets, and how she balances between farming and family.
1. Onion doctor, tell us why the name
Onion doctor came about in a eureka moment when we decided to focus our energies and efforts on the onion value chain. The onion value chain is our business and we endeavour to make every bulb count.
2. Literally, onions make people cry/shed tears, but they seem to make you happy. Tell us about this passion for onion farming, why maybe not maize or wheat?
Studies show that in 2021, Kenya will consume 93,000 metric tonnes of onions. So I see the potential of growth in population and demand.
My sole objective is to own 5% of the market share by working closely with other onion farmers, providing agronomic support, seeds, seedlings and bulk buyers while eliminating middlemen. I believe by strengthening the onion value chain, the major stakeholders will smile all the way to the bank. Sorry for the sulphur though!
3. How long have you been doing onion farming and in which areas.
I have worked in the onion value chain for four years now serving as a farmer, farm manager and consultant to onion farmers.
4. Which onions do you specialize in and why?
We focus on the red bulb onion because of the never-ending demand.
5. Would you say that dealing in onions is your main source of income? Anything on the side when not farming onions?
I work for an onion doctor (an agribusiness consulting company that works with onion farmers, bulk onion buyers and seed merchants.)I serve the role of lead consultant.
When not doing onions, I consult matters climate-smart agriculture; I am an influencer in the digital agribusiness space and a trainer in the agricultural space.
6. Many young people, especially girls have been viewed not to love farming and agribusiness in general, what made you different?
My interest in agribusiness was sparked during my agricultural training in Israel. When I first saw green capsicum turn red in a greenhouse I had worked in Ido shaham’s farm in the Arava desert south Israel, I knew that was it for me. I fell in love with agriculture and I have never looked back.
7. What would be your message to anyone who wants to venture into onion farming or any other type of farming?
Do your market research, know when to plant in regards to prevailing market prices and find the right variety to plant. Alternatively, consult with us, we have gone through the journey and we are well connected to the market.
8. How do you manage work/life/family time balance?
Achieving balance means trading one thing for another. What works for me is work-life integration. I have found friends and business associates in the agribusiness space. Most of my friends are in the agriculture value chain.
9. Are there unique challenges for women in farming?
I am a trained farmer from JKUAT Kenya and A.I.C.A.T Israel. My challenges as a consultant are largely because most people think that I don’t look like a farmer.
I have however found a way to navigate through and occupy my space. The upside is it easier for me to work in the uptown markets and market onions.
10. How do you get a good market for your products considering that lack of market has been a challenge for many farmers?
Marketing is my favorite part of what I do. I have the guts to walk into any premises with my onion samples in the handbag. I just book an appointment with the procurement officer or chef.
I present my samples; negotiate for prices, delivery options and payment methods. I also produce with my market in mind so I know when to produce large bulbs and when to produce medium-sized bulbs.
11. Tell us how your normal working day is?
I get up, answer emails, post content on our social media content (Facebook- Onion Doctor, Twitter- Onion Doctor Ltd and Instagram- Onion Doctor Kenya). After that, I go to the farms for scouting or market to do due diligence.
12. What is your greatest moment in this venture?
Through what I do in the onion value chain, I got a chance to highlight the potential the onion value chain holds to His Excellency Uhuru Kenyatta in the just concluded AGRA food summit.
It was an honour to hear him mention my name. We even shared a light moment.
13. In five years’ time, where does the onion doctor see herself?
I want to be a one-stop-shop for all the onion value chain needs. The purpose is to strengthen the onion value chain and own 5% of the onion market share.