When he graduated in 2019, Erick Ochieng had a great vision.
Get a well-paying job, start a family, and invest.
But all these fell on a hard rock, and crumbled.
But he never gave up.
I find peace in what I am doing now, and I look forward to making it bigErick Ochieng
Today, Ochieng has turned his Alego Kamser village in Karachuonyo into a farming class.
“I find peace in what I am doing now, and I look forward to making it big,” he told Lake Region Bulletin.
Ochieng, the seventh in a family of nine children was born 27 years ago.
On Dec 6, 2019, he graduated with a Bachelor Degree in Agriculture Economics and Resource Management from Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology.
He immediately got a job on contract terms with a local Non-Governmental Organization.
This however didn’t last as long as he had envisioned.
Few months later, Covid-19 hit the world hard, and many organizations scaled down activities.
His employer was nit spared, and Ochieng lost his job.
The job market shrunk, and nobody was employing. After several attempts at job opportunities with no success, I thought I needed to open my mindErick Ocheng
“The job market shrunk, and nobody was employing. After several attempts at job opportunities with no success, I thought I needed to open my mind,” he said.
He added: “Being in a large family, survival was key, and I went for something that did not require a lot of capital.”
Ochieng begun farming in a small piece of land next to his home.
His first harvest was not good enough to sustain the high demand for the vegetables.
He looked around, and saw many young idle men, some of whom had graduated.
He convinced them to join him.
Ochieng used his knowledge to mobilize and train the colleagues on best farming practices, and how to maximize profits.
And in a bid to structure the engagement, they decided to form a youth group; Kamser Shoreline Youth Group, in November 2020.
Our financier gave us another Sh36, 000 which we used to lease more land and we continued with the work,Erick Ochieng
One day, they approached a neighbor, and explained their venture.
The neighbor gave them Sh28, 000, which they used to lease more land and acquire inputs.
But the flooding caused by the swelling waters of Lake Victoria affected part of their farm, leading to loss of crops.
“Our financier gave us another Sh36, 000 which we used to lease more land and we continued with the work,” he said.
And last year, the group was privileged have been identified for funding.
The group received Sh340, 000 from Devolution and Climate Change Adaptation programme (DaCCA).
DaCCA, supported by SustainableEnergy (SE), Denmark through DANIDA funds focuses on making knowledge on sustainable management of natural resources available to local communities.
Through the funding, Ochieng and his 11 colleagues have managed to acquire two motorcycles, solar pump, three water tanks and irrigation pipes.
“This has made our work easy, as our production is now seamless,” he said.
The group is currently working on 5.6 acres of land in various locations within the village, where they grow tomatoes, vegetables and onions.
When Lake Region Bulletin caught up with the group, they were having a meeting at one of their farms.
“We are now focusing on hybrid tomatoes which take approximately three months to mature,” he said.
The team distribute labour among themselves, and share the profit from the farm on the basis of how much someone work in the farm.
“Since we do not hire people to work in the farm, we do all the work but monetize it,” said Ochieng.
He adds: “For example, when weeding, we budget for it, but we do the work and record the money against those who have participated. Once we harvest and sell, the money meant for weeding is divided among those who participated.”
Diseases and adverse weather remain their biggest challenge.
“There is ready market for our produce, and retailers throng here,” said Ochieng.
He however feels that the area still has a lot of unutilized land, and through financial support, the group can increase land use, and increase food production.