Having more than a business relationship with the farmer
He is a veterinary doctor by profession. His colleagues and livestock farmers have always known him to be a phone call away whenever they need support. In 2007, Dr Muriuki Kabatha started Sunrise Farm Supplies with his wife Lucy Wangui Muriuki as an agrovet shop. Initially, they would only dispense chemicals and inputs to farmers as they requested. They later realized that farmers needed advice and support on the inputs they were purchasing.
Due to the good working relationship with the farmers, it was easy to interact with them. It was also ideal for him to get referrals from the farmers he was dealing with thus expanding his business. In 2009, he partnered with Syngenta when the green house boom had just began. He was involved in the soil testing exercise. Having a good rapport with the farmers helped him penetrate the market and offer his extension services in animal health. The business thrives on the slogan, ‘Train today, sell Tomorrow.’
Giving advice to farmers has improved their crop and livestock. Some of his clients get support over the phone due to his availability at all times. Sunrise distributes farm inputs to farmers and other agrovets in the county. He works with over 1000 farmers spread across Laikipia County. Dr. Kabatha also works in liaison with other companies in agro-chemical supplies to source for his products.
Lucy also trains farmers on new technology and conducts follow up visits to his clients. “In order to have a productive relationship with the farmers, you need to understand them in order to give practical solutions.” Due to the unpredictable weather patterns, the farmers have not been planting a lot as a result of the erratic rainfall. This leaves them unsure on whether to plant or not.
Sunrise has set up over 500 demos in various farms in Nanyuki and Laikipia County. Recently they set up a demo at Nanyuki District Hospital. This has ensured a steady supply of food for the patients and neighbouring community thus cutting their costs. The Ministry of Health has also started their dairy unit after Dr. Kabatha’s intervention. They followed his advice and have reduced the cost of buying milk and maintained its continuity.
Apart from the agrovet, the couple practices small scale agriculture at their farm. They grow tomatoes, green and yellow capsicums in a green house. Potatoes and maize are also grown in the farm. They also rear rabbits, local chicken and the kuroiler chicken breed.
He has been a member of AAA since 2009 and ever since he has benefitted a lot from the interactions had with other members. He worked closely with Fredrick Muthuri of Agri Quest and had soil samples tested at his facility. “I received more comprehensive results from the tests done. They are thorough and reliable.”
Agri Quest also supplies him with fertilizer which he buys and stocks at his agrovet. Through the membership, he has been able to get new business ideas, new clients and friendship. The training workshops help by AAA have also motivated him as a person and presented new challenges for the business. He hopes that AAA will assist him directly or indirectly in growing the business and getting new ideas for the growth of the business. He is also keen on getting new clients from the club and beyond.