Nyeri farmer Wilson Ndung’u is earning Sh120, 000 per month from the sale of pepino melon fruits which mature after 75 days. Ndung’u harvests approximately 1200kg of the fruits from his two acre farm and sells them at Sh100 per kilogram.
What Ndung’u earns in a month is Sh41500 more than the salary of an average accountant in Kenya. According to payscale.com accountants in Kenya earn approximately Sh78, 500.
The fruit is known for its health benefits which include lowering of blood pressure, promoting healthy immune system and maintaining healthy gums hence gaining demand among consumers.
“I started growing pepino in 2009 when I was still a student at Gichungo secondary school after being introduced to it by a friend”
“I began with just one plant but I have since expanded to two acres with about 9,000 plants” said Ndung’u.
Wilson Ndung'u at his pepino farm in Nyeri
Ndung’u, an accountant by profession ventured into this type of farming after numerous job searches bore no fruit. He then decided to try pepino farming after he was introduced to the fruit by his friend.
According to Ndung’u, pepino melon is a sweet and juicy perennial plant with a lifespan of four and half years. The plant is propagated from cuttings, planted at a space of two to three feet and can grow to a height of 1.2 meters when fully matured. One plant can produce 30 fruits.
“I apply chicken manure at the rate of five bags per acre once in a year to improve the fertility due to the black cotton soil in my farm” said Ndung’u. The plant does well in well drained loamy soils with a soil PH of 6.5 to 7.5.
To maintain the plants, the farmer removes excess shoots around the base of each plant so as to enough air and light reach to all sides of the plant, important ingredients in the photosynthesis process.
Ndung’u said pepino melon plants are susceptible to diseases that affect tomatoes such as blight and bacterial wilt amongst others. Farmers intending to venture into growing this type of plant should therefore avoid planting them on farms previously occupied by tomatoes.
He harvests approximately 300kg of the fruits per week and sells them in markets within Nyeri town, Nairobi and central region. Sometimes retailers and consumers alike visit his farm to purchase the fruits.
Pepino melon has a light-yellow to light-green skin, streaked with purple variegations. The flesh, when ripe is golden yellow with a narrow seed cavity. It is entirely edible and is an excellent source of fiber which helps in the digestion process.
Ndung’u has adopted farming as his lifetime job and has used proceeds from the farm to sustain his livelihood. He also sells seedlings to prospective farmers at Sh100 per seedling.
He now has a young family which he hopes to raise using money from the sales of the fruits. The farmer also plants to venture to kiwi fruit farming in future.
Ndung’u can be reached on +254 714 080 532.