About 45km from Kenya’s capital – an hour’s drive – you head to Gatundu, a highly significant area with a lot of political relevance in the country.
It is from Gatundu that Kenya’s founding father Mzee Jomo Kenyatta lived and his son, now the Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta was born and grew up in. But this has nothing to do with the first family but a true son of the soil, Mr Tony Gichanga.
Mr Gichanga now calls Gatundu home after spending 25 years in the US. He has an expansive tract of land that boasts of double digit acreage if not triple. Here, he is not just an ordinary famer; it is an animal farm.
In a one-on-one interview with Ghanaian YouTuber Wode Maya recently, Mr Gichanga said that he was born and bred in Kenya before moving to the US where he lived and worked for 25 years. He only came back five years ago to follow his passion which is animal farming.
In the US, he worked for a technology company but would later leave to venture out on his own and with lots of determination, he lived the American dream but as they say, east or west, home is best.
“I moved to the US, I was there for 25 plus years. I worked for a technology company and then after a while, I started working by myself. I got a little bit of a tracking warehouse and that also got to a point where that magic ball lit up and said “it’s gonna go back home” home is best,” he recalled excitedly.
Back at home and a plan in mind with a huge acreage of land; this was the perfect “welcome back to Kenya” thing that he had been looking forward to for years before he finally decided to leave America.
Mr Gichanga opted for animal farming than plant farming citing that in his venture to rear animals, he has a high level of control unlike in plant farming where there are many dynamic most of them dictated by nature.
“Animal farming was easier for me than plant farming. This is a little bit more predictable,” he offers saying that with plant farming, he is not in control of the rains and other nature processes that favour the growth of plants.
His vast farm has rabbits, chicken, ducks, goats, cows and pigs. He started it off three years ago and has invested massively in the venture.
Notably, his farm has a water reservoir of 250,000 litres of water, all harvested from rain. Mr Gichanga says it is enough to sustain the farm’s operations for two years.
Just like anyone else, the transition phase was quite bumpy. He describes his first year of return as “a little bit of touch and go” but says that having been born in Kenya, it is easy to adapt because he had also trained himself to adapt to a new life in the US.
His only regret is that he wishes he came back home sooner noting that “the freedom, the quality of life – this place is amazing!”.
To bring down the high production cost of animal feed, Mr Gichanga personally prepared it in his farm. He makes pellets for his rabbits which do not feed on green foliar due to rotting. They feed on hay and pellets and a lot of water.
For his chicken, he prepares the feed as well as well as for his pigs and chick ducks before they are let out to wander in the open air space.
His message to Kenyans in the diaspora who plan on returning home is find something they are passionate about and always look at things from “the long term” perspective in whatever it is they plan on doing.