Canola farmer oils his way to business success
Posted Monday, July 23 2012 at 17:40
A white man once challenged David Kimondo telling him that African farmers never try new things; they would rather plant maize and beans. Mr Kimondo set out to prove the man wrong.
Today, the 57-year-old today grows canola, a plant not known to many of his fellow farmers in Mweiga, Kieni West District of Nyeri County, but which is bringing him money and good health.
Canola is grown for its highly nutritious oil, which is extracted from its seeds. According to Mr Kimondo, the plant produces Omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids that are otherwise only found in fish and are known to prevent arthritis, diabetes and heart disease among giving many other health benefits.
The farmer, for example, says that one should take a spoonful of canola oil everyday as it smoothens the skin while keeping diseases at bay.
He notes that most of his customers are women who want to improve their looks as the oil is said to eradicate pimples.
Mr Kimondo has been growing the plant and extracting its oil over the last three years; what started out as an experiment has seen him get more orders than he can supply.
“I cannot compare this with planting other crops for sale as this has enabled me to improve my standard of living,” he says.
Once planted, Mr Kimondo says, the canola plant, which belongs to the kale family, does not require much attention in cultivating but only needs to be sprayed once with pesticides.
When he begun growing canola, Mr Kimondo says he decided to extract the oil using a homemade machine he invented. But the machine was slow, extracting about 20 litres in a day and consuming a lot of fuel.
He would then sell the oil and canola cakes — which are highly nutritious for chicken and other domestic animals — to his neighbours, but even that took a lot of convincing as most people ignored his work, unaware of its benefits.
Today, the same people flock into his mill to buy oil or cakes for their animals.
Mr Kimondo’s homemade machine earned him enough money to enable him buy a new oil press from China at Sh500,000. He is now able to produce 100 litres of oil per day, but even with this, he is not able to meet the rising demand.
He says he receives orders from as far as Mombasa, Nairobi, Nakuru and Nyahururu.
He packages the oil in half-litre and one-litre bottles, with a one-litre bottle going for Sh200 at the local market.
Through his success, Mr Kimondo has encouraged several neighbours to follow suit in planting canola. He then extracts oil for them at Sh15 per kilogramme.