Few people can boast a side hustle that pays more than their core job. Silibwet Township ward Member of county assembly Robert Metet is one of such few people. Metet is such a successful potato farmer in Bomet County, he has become a household name within his ward and beyond. The MCA, popularly known as ‘Disari’, started farming from a quarter of an acre 15 years ago and now has 20 acres. He takes Smart Harvest through the journey: “I planted my first crop of potato in 1997 through the assistance of my father. To start off, my dad gave me a portion to till and ‘loaned’ me some money to buy the required inputs.” From the basic agriculture knowledge he learnt in school, he set off with six bags of certified seeds and a 50kg bag of DAP fertiliser to plant in the portion of land he had been allocated.
“From my first planting, I got 72 bags and sold 50 and kept 22 as seed that I planted in three acres. I got 240 bags from the three acres and this made me stick to the potatoes. I was so impressed by this I jumped in 100 per cent,” he says. Luckily, for him, there was a ready market for his crop and the demand was even overwhelming. “This project is lucrative, I can tell you that for free. Look at how far it has brought me. Money from these potatoes even funded my campaigns,” the politician says. His potato business picked up so well over the years, he managed to buy lorries, ventured into real estate business and started a local construction company. He shows Smart Harvest last year’s farm records which show he accrued profit of Sh4 million from 20 acres under potatoes. He sold the produce to manufacturing industries in Mombasa, Nairobi and Bomet Central Sub-County.
He says on a good season, an acre fetches him Sh150,000. So what inspired him to start potato farming? “While I was in Form Four, I majored in Agriculture and my project was potatoes. To score highly in that project I did a lot of research on potato farming and I became a small ‘expert’. That is how my love affair with potatoes began,” he says. After high school, instead of furthering his education, he chose to try his hand in potato farming. “I told my dad about my idea and he supported me fully,” he says. When his first produce was ready, he did not make good profit because he went through brokers.
“After realising that, the second time round I was wiser. I went in search of a market for my produce after I realised the brokers were buying at exploitative prices,” he says. His hunting for market bore fruit and he discovered potatoes from the region were of high quality and on high demand. As a buyer and a farmer at the same time, he got chance to interact with people from across the expansive region who later voted him in during the 2013 elections. While at County Assembly he has worked closely with the County government to draw foreign investors interested to use potatoes as raw materials to manufacture crisps and create a direct market to export the surplus. “Everything is possible. I am now worth over Sh50million just from potato farming which has enabled me to venture in transport and construction business. I would urge youth to try it out after doing their research,” he says.