On a two-acre farm in Juja, gospel singer Gloria Muliro finds solace as a poultry farmer.
With her business partner, Shinel Wanjashe, they keep more than 1,000 indigenous (kienyeji) chicken . It is a combination that is intriguing to those who don’t know Gloria.
At the farm, she also grows maize and beans and she has perfected the art of juggling between farm work and music career.
“I come here on weekdays because my weekends are spent in the studio,” Gloria, the award-winning gospel musician.
“For instance, if I am going on a Monday I leave Nairobi early in the morning so that I can be here in good time to help manage things. I leave in the evening after I’m done with my projects. My business partner also makes the same trips depending on her schedule.”
Additionally, she also does plenty of telephone farming, a trend common with urban farmers with farms on the outskirts of the city of even upcountry.
“Although I come here once a week, I talk to the farm manager every day. I call him every evening to get updates on how things are going on here. He notifies me if there are any sick birds, if feeds are enough and any other challenge the birds may be facing. That way, I get to address problems before they escalate,” she says.
Knowing very well the intensity of work that farming entails, when she comes to the farm, she literally gets her hands dirty. Evidently, the Gloria on TV is different from the one on the farm.
“When I come here, I drop the ‘celeb’ tag and get down to work. On the farm, there is no swag, so the make-up and bling have to go. When I am on the farm, I am just a simple village girl from Emuhaya taking care of her kukus,” she says with a chuckle.
Pray, what inspired her into this venture that youth fear like a plague? “I love farming. Since I was a child I have always loved the easy, chilled out life of the farm. I think it’s because I was born and raised upcountry,” she says.
On a lighter note, she quips: “You will really laugh at this. See, the lunje (slang for Luhya) in me loves chicken kienyeji to be precise. But when I came to Nairobi to settle, I realised at times getting this delicacy is a toll order. That time many people liked the broilers. But now things are changing,” she says.
Having smelt an opportunity, she grabbed it.
“To quench my need, I started making my orders from upcountry just for my consumption and for a few friends. But with time, locals realised Gloria could supply them with nice chicken and word went round. That’s how the market grew,” she says.
Bird by bird, her market expanded and she started getting orders from far and wide.
Things sound good, are they always like this?
“Goodness! Don’t be mistaken, farming is not a walk in the park! I wish you knew. There are days, I really want to quit the whole project but somehow I soldier on. Imagine being called from the studio and told that the birds are sick and they have no idea what is ailing them. Or like 100 birds have died at a go,” she confesses.
But to counter such shocks, Gloria says — expensive as it may be — she always deals with experts. Because trained vets always ask for a tidy sum, many young farmers prefer to deal with quacks, who are cheaper but in the long run lead to disasters.
(Copyright: The Standard)