Have you ever made a significant career change? With a career change comes new challenges, stressors and opportunities. Evans can speak to this personally.
Evans owns two acres of irrigated land in Kenya, which he inherited from his father. But he left the family estate when he was young to pursue work in Nairobi in the milk processing industry. He worked in this industry for about 20 years until the post-election violence in 2007 drove him return to his hometown and invest his earnings from milk processing into his family rice farm.
For ten years, Evans struggled to successfully grow rice. He was unaware of plowing techniques, faced water and irrigation challenges, his produce was inconsistent in quality and yield, and he lacked general knowledge and understanding of complicated rice farming techniques.
In 2018, Evans began working with MEDA through the M-SAWA project in Kenya through connecting to Magos Farm Enterprises Limited (Magos). Through MEDA and Magos, farmers like Evans have been provided with various trainings on proper rice management and group planting techniques. Evans has learned good agricultural practices like the importance of transplanting, inter-cropping and rotational planting.
At the time this story was recorded (June 2019), Evans was tilling his nursery and planning for transplanting the seedlings.
“I learned important skills about caring for my rice nursery through the trainings offered by MEDA and Magos,” said Evans.
Evans has also learned about soil testing from the M-SAWA project. He learned that his inconsistent produce could in part be connected to lack of soil health. Through the project, Evans was able to use a near-infrared spectroscopy (NRI) that determines deficiencies in soil nutrients and recommends an appropriate nutrition management regiment.
After the rice has been harvested, Evans plans to rotate his crop with watermelons, which is used as an income generation crop and at the same time enriches the soil for a new rice crop. He is also looking at hermetic bags that will help him store his harvested rice for longer periods so that he can sell his produce at a time when prices are higher.
Evans is optimistic that the next season in September will yield a harvest of 60, 90 kg bags from his 2-acre farm. “My current crop is responding very positively to crop rotation and the soil nutrition management plan we have developed,” said Evans.
Because of his agricultural success, Evans is seen as an innovative leader in his community. Evans is now an agent for Magos in his locality and he is an advocate for soil nutrition, crop rotation and other good agricultural practices. Although Evans struggled to achieve agricultural success when he changed careers initially, through training and knowledge, he has turned his land into a thriving business.
-- Story by Janet Mumassabba