Vitman Wafula, a farmer based in Kakamega county, has set up a medicinal garden where he raises seedlings for medicinal plants and trees. He also keeps both stingless and stinging bees and harvests their honey for medicinal purposes.
He started his project in 2014 with the hope of giving the villagers an easily accessible and affordable solution to a healthier life.
“Given the fact that we are based in an interior location, accessing commercial drugs is not easy. In addition, they are quite expensive and most of us cannot afford them.” Vitman says.
Together with his team, they raise seedlings from different types of plants and herbs, i.e. Moringa, rosemary, green pepper just to mention a few, then sell them to clients who can grow them on their own.
The maturity period of the seedlings usually depends on the type of plant. For example, the rosemary plant only takes a month to mature whereas the moringa plant takes up to a year to fully mature and releases around 700 seedlings. They mainly target releasing seedlings between August and October.
They source their products from different locations such as West Pokot, where they mainly get seedlings for the different types of Aloe vera.
As for their honey, they harvest them from the bees they keep and later sell them pure and raw with no additives.
Honey also has its medicinal values and most of their customers have a preference for honey harvested from stingless bees.
Benefits of Agribiz program
Initially, when they started, they had no proper plan and strategy for their business. They also had limited ideas on how to commercialize it profitably. However, since they got signed under the Agribiz program, they have been able to learn how to create better business strategies, manage their inventories and also achieve profitable sales. Vitman claims it is still a work in progress.
Marketing has been a major challenge for the team but they are working on strategies that will improve on that. To add on, most employees left and went back to their homes due to the current pandemic.
Vitman has also lost employees along the way due to disloyalty, in that they poach his ideas and set up similar enterprises.
Security also is an issue. People and animals tend to steal his products from the garden.
“Given the nature of this business, I intend on doing it for the rest of my life.” He says enthusiastically.
He plans on expanding the garden into a field where he will be able to raise the seedlings as well as plant the plants on his own. On top of that, he is also interested in being a pharmacist and purchasing machines to set up a lab where he can test the plants, check on their toxicity levels and convert them into consumable drugs.