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Mkulima Young Champion - How fundi lines his pockets with Muguka miraa in Juja

The debate over the impact of miraa seems like it will never end. To the medics, chewing miraa is a health hazard that renders some body dysfunctional.

To those chewing it, it is a past time, better than most things such as cigareetes and alcohol.

Among the miraa variety, Muguka is liked for its potency and sells fast as soon as it arrives in Nairobi from Meru.

It is this demand that pushed Francis Ngare, 30, to attempt its farming in Darashani, Juja farm.

Notable for his symbolic attire as a jamaa wa mtaa, Ngare isn't the guy who will just do what all the others are doing. He likes to do things differently.

That is why when he thought of farming, he never considered planting conventional crops such as cabbages, spinach and and kales. He went for Muguka. "There is a market here. I realized my friends who chew it were waiting  for it for  too long to come from Meru," says Ngare.

He bought 200 seedlings from Embu but the water challenge weighed him down.

"I would draw water very early in the morning before going to mjengo where I was just a hand (mtu wa Mkono). It was  a tedious job," he says.

But after two years the Muguka matured and today, he lines his pocket through the Juja miraa. According to Ngare, the twigs give him about Sh 25,000  a month, money he says has made him quite comfortable.

He sells the muguka once a week and earns between Sh 6,000 and Sh 7,000.

"I do not have to worry about the market. The twigs are bought at my gate," he reveals.

This is a far cry from his earning when he was a construction hand. "I would earn Sh 300, then I started earning Sh 500  a day," he says.

Trying to eke out a better life, he became a fundi and would earn Sh 1,000 a day. "But the job was tough and not guaranteed every day," he notes.

Apart from Muguka,  Ngare has ventured into chicken farming. Sometimes back, he sold 200 chicken at a price of Sh 450 and reaped in a cool Sh 90,000.

Through his farming, Ngare was able to buy his first plot measuring 40 metres by 60 metres at a cost of Sh 60,000.

Being a fundi, he constructed his family's house thus ending his rent woes.

Ngare's passion for agriculture started while he was in school. He participated in the National Science Congress Finals with his innovative idea of an "automatic" wooden feeding trough.

He has cycling as his hobby and once cycled to Mombasa.

The muguka man now sells the seedlings which he prepares at his farm. "Mwanaume ni effort", concludes Ngare