As one enters the home of Jesse Kiorio, his wife Kezia is singing in Kikuyu while tendering to rare sweet bloody and yummy maroon ‘flowers’ surrounding their houses.
A closer look reveals they are tree tomatoes, which she has grown outside her shamba after realizing that they do not need much lower space is they are ‘fed’ well with nutrients and water.
But there is more to space-the fruits are earning her some good coins with a kilo selling at Sh100. Keziah says the tree tomato, which is also called tamaillo, has never disappointed her since she adopted grafted variety.
The grafted type is tolerant to low moisture content in addition to high yields as well as prolonged production period of up to 10 years.
“One tree can give about 30 fruits at a time. I need six to seven fruits to make one kilo, will earn between Sh100 and Sh140, depending on the demand,” she says.
One tamarillo tree buys sackful maize
Entry into their farm reveals that the tamarillo has invaded every portion of the farm including the tea field.
But Kezia has a good reason for this: “One tree can give about 20 kilogrammes per year. Selling each kilo at Sh100, that translated to Sh2,000 With one tree I can buy a 90kg maize bag,” she says.
A maize farmer will require a large piece of land to produce a 90kg bag of maize.
She has about 300 trees and more seedlings are available for sale.
Even after the February-March depresses rain, the fruits have done well, with most of them having more than 20 fruits.
“We graft hybrid tamarillo with bitter leaf to give rise to a drought tolerant variety. The seedlings are also nematode resistant, making them better than hybrid one,” she says.
Together with her husband, they sell the seedlings at Sh200 raised in a greenhouse.
For high productivity, the Nyeri County based-farmer says digging a hole of three feet before filling it with compost manure would allow for longer retention of water in the soil for continuous production even on dry spells.
For seedlings others enquirers, Keziah can be reached on +254722535987