Sukari F1 watermelon variety. The variety is earning Kariuki Musyoka, a young farmer from Kirinyaga County over Sh2m per season. Photo courtesy.
Kariuki Musyoka, a class eight school leaver is good example of those who have lived well their hopes despite facing challenges with their education. This is after starting watermelon farming, a venture which is currently earning him about Sh2m gross income per season.
Musyoka sat for his Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) in 2002 at Ngeta Primari School in Mbeere, Embu County but he could not proceed with his education as his parents could not afford secondary school fees.
He therefore decided to join his mother in rice farming at Mwea in Kirinyaga County where his mother hails from. His uncles had given the mother some piece of land where she could grow rice to help her support the family.
“I joined my mother as a casual labourer helping her in planting, weeding, harvesting and packaging the rice for market,” said the 27 years old.
After working for about eight years he saved Sh30,000 then he decided to move on his own to start off watermelon farming. He used about Sh4000 to rent an acre piece of plot, Sh10,000 to buy seeds and the rest on labour and drugs.
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Musyoka would eventually harvest about 40 tonnes from the piece of land. He sold a kilo at Sh21 raking Sh840,000. This motivated him.
“I was surprised that out of my little initial investment I could get such return. This encouraged me to increase the area under cultivation of watermelon,” he said.
He moved on to spend Sh35,000 to rent 10 acres of land near River Thiba which is close to Thiba Dam. He bought seeds worth Sh17,500 and used the rest of the money on buying a water pump, on labour and drugs.
He has since been practicing rotational farming renting 10 acres each season from one area to another provided the new land is either virgin or was not used to grow watermelon in the previous season.
“It is unadvisable to plant watermelon in the same piece of land which the crop was grown the season before as this may encourage diseases and pests invasion lowering yields. This is why I move from one piece of land to the other,” said Musyoka who prides in over six years of experience in watermelon farming.
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Currently the farmer has almost ready Sukari F1 watermelon variety with fruits estimated to be weighing between 3-4 kilos expecting to harvest about 60 tonnes starting 27th of this month.
He says he prefer Sukari F1 variety which matures in 60 days and is loved by most consumers due to it sweet taste. He sells a kilo at Sh21 farm-gate price to traders who come from Kirinyaga, Kiambu and Nairobi.
“Right now the traders have started calling to enquire when I will start harvesting and this gives me hope of ready market as soon as I start the exercise,” said Musyoka.
He spends about Sh80,000 on drugs, Sh100,000 on irrigation and another Sh100,000 fertiliser and other farm inputs. This leaves him with about Sh1.5m net income every season.
His major challenges include high cost of pesticides and fuel because of the tax imposed on the commodities by the government.
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Musyoka who is a married man with one child also owns a public service vehicle famously known as (matatu) which operates along Nairobi-Meru route just as part of the businesses he runs courtesy of profits from his watermelon farming.
He now advices the youth who might have faced the same problems in education like him not to lose hope but venture in agribusiness and they will earn a decent living.
He can be reached on +254 726443292.