Starting his own business was not a walk in the park for Dr Onesmus Ng’etich, founder and proprietor of Eldoret Orchards and Nursery Investment in Uasin Gishu County.
When he left the country for the United States for further studies six years ago, many expected him to secure a well paying job and settle in the First World country, which is touted as the home of opportunities.
But while in the US, the 40-year-old graduate of Egerton University, who was pursuing a PhD in horticulture at Wyoming University, saw a lucrative business opportunity in nursery establishment, majoring in a variety of crops.
“I interacted with almost 100 farmers owning several acres of commercial horticulture nursery projects and they were doing very well. This inspired me to return to the country and replicate the same and make extra income,” explained Dr Ng’etich, who is also a lecturer at the University of Embu.
Upon his return home in May 2017, Dr Ngetich took a bank loan of Sh2.1 million and purchased a 1.8 acre piece of land at Koilebel, in Kipkenyo area, Uasin Gishu County.
“Now that I owned land and more so close to a reliable source of water, a key factor in setting up an horticulture enterprise, I went for an additional loan of Sh650,000 to invest in piping and pumping of water to the nursery and another Sh250,000 to purchase farm inputs,” says Dr Ngetich who also has a master’s degree from Egerton University.
“Any investment is risk taking and one has to be ready to incur losses to ultimately earn profit.”
He recorded a loss of Sh3 million from 16,000 avocado seedlings that withered after his employees failed to water them while he was away on professional duties.
“I took the loss as a challenge in any business and instead of giving up I went for another loan with determination to break even. And indeed I made a breakthrough and now I am the proud owner of this Orchards and Nursery Investment,” Dr Ngetich explains.
He has more than 10 varieties of different fruits including eight varieties of apple species such as Braeburn Apple, Fujii, Granny Smith, Royal Gala and McIntosh.
The entrepreneur has 250 tree tomatoes at his demonstration farm and expects to plant 6,000 with anticipated annual revenue of Sh3 million.
“I am targeting the European market where a kilogramme of tree tomato goes for Sh2,000 as opposed to Sh500 in the local market,” Dr Ngetich says.
Among the plants he has on his farm is Kiwi, with a fruit going at minimum of Sh60. “A Kiwi plant produces about 240 fruits with a tree generating an average of Sh14,000, which is good money for any investor,” Dr Ngetich adds.
The entrepreneur has 30,000 grafted avocado plants with each going for Sh250 and a variety of paw paw, guavas, oranges, lemon among others.
“There is ready market for horticultural crops in the country and it is matter of commitment by farmers to tap investment diversity in the sub-sector and earn better income,” Dr Ngetich says.
He plans to invest in solar energy for reliable and cheap energy for irrigation purposes and expand his orchard and nursery project and continue to record better return.