Paul Kabucwa from Opica Farm holds a 37kg pumpkin fruit for display at the North Rift Agricultural Society of Kenya Show on October 29, 2016. Opica Farm buys the pumpkins from farmers at Sh180 per kilo. PHOTO BY LABAN ROBERT.
Small-scale farmers can make more than Sh7,000 from one pumpkin fruit by growing a marcotted variety that is rich in zinc and other essential minerals believed to boost body immunity against diseases like cancer.
The variety from Nyeri County’s Opica Farm gives fruits of from 30kg to more than 80 kilos.
The organisation, which sells seeds for the propagation of the pumpkin, also buys mature fruits from farmers at Sh180 per kilo.
Paul Kabucwa, an officer in the farm said Opica F1 green variety is marcotted from jollydele and rock mass types to boots mineral content as well as disease tolerance.
“While rock mass is tolerant to drought, jolldele is not affected by pests like wasps and fruit-flies. The resultant variety is also tolerant to frost and Pluto II,” he said.
On average, one mature fruit can weigh up to 40 kilos, which if sold at Sh180 per kilo would earn a farmer Sh7,200.
Kabucwa said the farm has in the past harvested pumpkins of 40kg, 48kg, 57kg, and 81kg. He had the 37kg pumpkin at the Kitale North Rift National Agricultural Society of Kenya Show, 2016.
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Pumpkin is common food for children because of the large deposits of vitamin A, calcium, potassium and other minerals for strong health.
The farm supplies the fruits to flour millers who mix it with sorghum and finger millet for sale in form of uji mix for porridge and other products.
The skin is blended to juice while seeds are fried like groundnuts. The two products are sold as zinc supplements.
Whilst common pumpkin varieties have about 15 per cent of zinc per given mass, the Opica green variety has double the same amount.
Zinc is recommended to cancer patients because it said to relieves pain.
Pumpkins mature in less than five months.
Kabucwa can be reached on +254727418846 while Muraya’s number is +254705365961.