My name is Paul. Am 25 years of age and professionally trained as a biotechnologist. I grew up an animal lover and would spend most of my time in field with the cattle during vacations. I also love reading, & meeting new people.
Hydroponic Feeds Project
If you love travelling, then you probably know where Kenya is located on the world map. In 2011, I started working for the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute as an assistant laboratory technologist. The institute opened my mind to the unlimited opportunities provided by biotechnology. My interest was attracted more to the science of growing plants without using soil, or in other terms, hydroponic fodder production. Africa has suffered a great deal of climatic change and I found hydroponics as a reliable source of feed for the sheep, goats and cattle in the drying continent.
I started a small “farm” in the garage where I built a temporary framework from wood where I stack plastic trays for the project. I had learnt that barley is the appropriate seed for hydroponic farming because, apart from developing numerous leaves in the shoot, each seed also develops numerous roots that join together forming a dense mat. The conditions in the garage did not support the plants sufficiently and the initial production was pretty low. I decided to up the project a little bit. After all, I had a salary which could act as a reliable source of capital.
The Green House
In July last year, I bought and set up and set up a 144 metre square green house. The structure could hold about 1700 trays and I started producing about 1200 kilograms of fodder a day using only about 900 litres of water. Of course I couldn’t manage the project together with my job at the institute so I decided to create employment for 2 people. The original purpose was to provide supplement for our 50 heads of cattle and 90 heads of goats. However, there was a pick in the production too soon that left me with a lot of surplus. Where did I take the surplus? The answer to this question is obvious, I opened a hydroponic shop.
Home based income
I started real hydroponic business early this year. Getting potential customers was a difficult task in the beginning as it was difficult to convince people to supplement their usual cattle feeding practices with the hydroponics. However, things turned round when a neighbour started rearing pigs. This man was fresh from college and capital was a challenge for him to rely on real feeds alone so he decided to try the hydroponics. It turned out that not only did the pigs like the fodder, but the amount of money the farmer anticipated to spend on feeds reduced significantly. At this moment, this project is earning me around $150 net every week, an enjoyable side hustle.
Benefits and Challenges
Hydroponic feed grows naturally and for a very short time. Normally, it takes from 5 to 10 days from planting to harvest without the use of chemical fertilizers, hormones or other growth stimulants. However, I am faced with the challenge of occasional fungal and bacterial growth in the green house and I have to carry samples to the institute every few weeks for toxin screening.
Thanks Paul for sharing your fascinating story! I guess many readers are wondering how to put their skills into action, how to create a business for themselves. This is a novel and creative way of doing just that. You still don’t know how to play and earn? Don’t worry…just practice being more toolerant, and your idea will come.