Aberdare Technologies Ltd, Kisii branch is selling tree tomato seedlings that can earn Sh162,000 to Sh189,000 per acre in eight months, two times more income than maize.
The company sells grafted seedlings at Sh50 and an acre of land can accommodate 540 trees with each tree yielding 60 to 70 fruits.
With the current market price of five shillings for each tomato, a farmer investing in this type of farming can earn Sh70,000 more per acre compared to maize which earns approximately Sh90,000 per acre.
“Our company decided to open a fruit seedlings nursery in Kisii in 2015 as majority of our customers were buying the seedlings from our main branch in Thika and hence we decided to bring the services closer to them,” said Alphonse Obino, the branch manager, Aberdare Technologies.
The fruit producer has been in operation for 17 years.
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According to Obino, the grafted tree tomato can do well in both lowland and highland areas such as Migori, Homa Bay, Rongo, Siaya, Kisii, Kericho and Bomet.
The tree tomato is eaten raw as a fruit while still fresh and is not used for cooking like the normal tomato.
While growing them, Obino recommends a spacing of three meters by three meters between one tree and another.
At planting, mix one debe of full of farm yard manure and 200g of diammonium phosphate (DAP) at the base of each tree.
Irrigation is necessary in areas experiencing low rainfall and five liters of water is needed per tree. Watering is done at least four times in a week.
“To control weeds, I suggest farmers apply mulch as it would more easier in preventing unwanted plant germination and is chemical free hence cheaper and safer,” said Obino.
The tree can reach 10 to 18 feet (3 to 5.5m) in height and produces 60 to 70 fruits in clusters of between three to 12 fruits.
Newly grown trees are pruned after attaining a height of three to four feet (90 to 120 cm). Yearly pruning thereafter is recommended to eliminate branches that have already born because fruits are produced on new growth.
In this, one acre of land can yield between 32,400 fruits and 37,800 fruits earning farmers Sh162000 to Sh189,000.
When ripe, the fruit is egg shaped and its skin color may be deep purple, orange, bloody red or yellow.
Besides selling tree tomato seedlings the company also sells grafted mango seedlings at Sh120, avocado seedlings at Sh120, passion fruit seedlings at Sh50, macadamia seedlings at Sh450 and grafted apple seedlings at Sh300 each.
The horticulture industry in Kenya is ranked as the fasted growing sub-sector in agriculture.
According to the 2018 economic survey released by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics in April, earnings from exports of fresh horticultural produce have exhibited an upward trend since 2014.
In 2017 earnings from fresh produce increased by 11 per cent to Sh115.35bn compared to the previous year.
In this, exports values of fruits and vegetables increased by 23.3 per cent and three per cent, respectively in 2017.
Fruits and vegetables earned nine billion shillings and Sh24bn, on export volumes of 56,945 tonnes and 87,240 tonnes respectively.