There is money in mulberry farming, but one must first find out the target market in need of their produce to avoid being stranded with harvest.
One farmer from Ruiru and a few others from other parts of the country have grown the mulberry tree for leaf powder, but market is not forthcoming.
Anthony Maingi, who runs a mulberry training farm and seedling distribution centre in Mweiga, Nyeri County, says identifying specific market would inform if one is to produce leaves or berries.
Having invested a lot of resources in raising the crop, a farmer can go an extra mile and start rearing silk worms.
Silk worm farming is a ripe market in Kenya. Nairobi’s International Centre of Insects and Physiology and Ecology sells milk worms to farmers, who raise the insects and sell back the yarn produced to the institute.
The crop is gaining popularity with strawberries being said to be fetching thousands of shillings.
Mulberry is a crops with diverse applications, with successful farmers reporting harvesting more than half a million shillings from a quarter an acre by selling dried ground leaves.
This tree, which also does in low rainfall areas, is feed for animals while its powder is a food additive taunted to fight against diabetes 2.
During powder preparation, the leaves must be dried under shade, not direct sunlight with turns them black instead of the desired green after grinding.
They are then packaged into sachets, which can be sold at Sh300 per 100 grammes.
Its strawberries are used in yoghurt flavouring, jam production, food colour ingredient, among other uses.
Best harvest is realised with proper seedbed preparation, Maingi says. The seed bed should be partitioned into one-mitre square segments.
At a spacing of one by one foot, the farmers can plant two or three rows. An eighth of an acre can host up to 3000 seedlings, he says.
Maingi’s farm offers free training to seedling buyers, while charging Sh1,000 for those who need only management skills.
Through the training the prospective agribusiness people are guided on practices that would give them best returns from leaves or strawberry products, whichever they choose.
Maingi can be reached on 0725672357