Salome Saina earns Sh20, 000 a week from pineapple farming in her three acre farm in Lolkeringet location Nandi County, a fruit she decided to cultivate 10 years ago after abandoning maize farming.
“I used to plant maize but the production was low, yielding between eight to 10 bags per acre which could not be commercialized but since I ventured into pineapple farming I have been generating income every week,” said Salome.
“Pineapple farming is a lucrative business that requires approximately Sh5000 as capital investment but gives high returns with minimal management as they thrive in periods of long dry spells and are rarely affected by pests and diseases.”
Salome Saina holding a pineapple sucker which she sells at Sh10/PHOTO/FARMBIZ AFRICA
Maize is only harvested once because of its long maturity period thus it proved an expensive venture for the farmer. Also, she spent always roughly Sh30, 000 on an acre to purchase seeds, fertilizers, ploughing land and purchasing of chemicals to control weeds.
Pineapples grow well in areas such as Kericho, Nandi, Thika and parts of Western Kenya, where the altitude ranges from 100metres to 1800metres above sea level with rainfall ranges from 600mm to about 1500mm annually. The crop does well in soils with high murram content as they allow for aeration than those with high clay content.
Salome started the venture in 2007, planting over 500 seedlings in an eighth of an acre after purchasing the suckers for Sh10 from a neighbour. She applied 10 wheelbarrows of farm yard manure and planted using the double row system which makes it easier to manage and also gives higher yields.
It took roughly nine months for the fruits to mature and yield the first fruits which she sold at between Sh20 and Sh50 depending on the size. Proceeds were used to cultivate and widen the size of the land under pineapples. As pineapples grow they develop suckers which Salome transplanted to the rest of her three acre farm with the help of her children.
“Before planting, sorting should be done to separate slips, suckers and trash, only healthy suckers should be used for planting and the defective ones removed to ensure uniformity”
It is important to weed the plants regularly to ensure maximum production; calcium ammonium nitrate (CAN) can also be added at the rate of one bag per acre once in a year to promote growth and development of important plant tissues. One bag of CAN costs Sh1800 to Sh2100 in various agro vets.
Salome now harvests more than 200 fruits in a week which she sells at various markets within Nandi County including Kabiyet, Mosoriot, and Kaiboi. Each fruit is now sold at between Sh30 to Sh80 depending on the size but if the fruit is cut and sold in pieces the returns are high fetching more than Sh150. This endeavor earns her over Sh20, 000 in a good week.
The farmer also sells pineapple suckers to prospective farmers at Sh10 per sucker.
In this, she has been able to educate her children comfortably besides earning income to sustain her family’s livelihood.
She can be reached on +254 707411042