How NARIGP programme helped me to boost sales through digital platforms 

Boniface Gathura (left), the founder of G-Smart FarmKe, an agricultural demonstration farm in Mutira-Kariko, Kirinyaga County.

Photo credit: Pool

The journey into agriculture for Boniface Gathura, a resident of Mutira-Kariko village in Kirinyaga County, began long before he completed secondary school.

Gathura’s love for crop farming started early as he took are of cabbages and indigenous avocados as a teenager. However, he temporarily set aside his farming dreams to pursue university education.

Upon completing his education in 2019, Gathura returned to his roots in Kirinyaga County, this time armed with a new-found determination to turn his passion into a profitable enterprise. 

Boniface Gathura (left), the founder of G-Smart FarmKe, an agricultural demonstration farm in Mutira-Kariko, Kirinyaga County.

Photo credit: Pool

“I have established the G-Smart FarmKe, an agricultural demonstration farm in the heart of Mutira-Kariko,” the 26-year-old agripreneur says, adding that he grows macadamia, coffee, Hass avocado and several other crops. Gathura has had to jump many hurdles to get to where he is today.

Despite initial success in selling coffee and avocado seedlings from his nursery, problems surfaced when it came to marketing the fruits.

Relying solely on word-of-mouth marketing was largely ineffective, leading to low sales and meagre profits, yet his dream was to make more money from farming.

In 2020, the National Agricultural and Rural Inclusive Growth Project (NARIGP) enlisted Gathura and other young people to spearhead farmer profiling and data collection initiatives, coupled with specialised training on agricultural best practices through disruptive agricultural technologies.

Equipped with tablets pre-installed with training modules and instructional videos, Gathura leaped head first into the world of digital learning, gaining insights into market trends, advertising techniques and communication strategies.

“With the new-found knowledge and skills, I realised the untapped potential of social media platforms as a means of marketing my products,” Gathura says.

Harnessing the power of Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, TikTok, WhatsApp and other social media platforms, Gathura embarked on a digital marketing crusade as he shared captivating content showcasing his seedlings and avocado fruits.

By joining WhatsApp groups like Kenya Avocado Growers and Exporters, Gathura kept abreast with market prices and trends, enabling him to make informed decisions and avoid exploitation by brokers and middlemen. The results were nothing short of remarkable.

Sales of his avocado seedlings skyrocketed from 200 in 2020 to an impressive 5,000 by December 2022, commanding an average price of Sh150 per seedling.

Similarly, the price of his avocado fruits surged from Sh10 to Sh22 per piece, thanks to NARIGP’s intervention.

The growth is a testament to the power of strategic marketing and informed decision-making, especially through digital marketing tools. Through the success of his digital marketing endeavours, Gathura has been organising open field days and collaborative events, attracting a diverse array of farmers eager to learn from his expertise.

This has led to a surge in demand for his seedlings, prompting him to expand his nursery to include indigenous fruit seedlings and herbs. The expansion has proved equally lucrative.

Gathura stands as a beacon of inspiration, a skilled agripreneur, and mentor to fellow youth, and pride of the society.

Through his entrepreneurial spirit and embrace of digital innovation, he has not only transformed his own fortunes but also changed the perception of agriculture among young people.