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Farmer harvesting strawberries all year round from multi-storey gardening

strawberry farming on multi storey garden

Daniel Gitau, a strawberry farmer from Gatundu Sounth Sub-County, Kiambu County is continuously harvesting strawberry fruits all year round from his multi-storey gardens within his quarter acre piece of plot thanks to the new technology which requires limited water  to irrigate the crops as oposed to open field.

According to Gitau, multi-storey gardens conserve irrigation water as the staking help minimize evaporation and a farmer can only water crops for up to thrice a week.

“One such garden can take a maximum of 20 litres of water once or twice a week depending on the weather.” Said the 2013 Farming Wonder founder.

According to a research by experts from the Department of Agricultural Science and Technology, Kenyatta University on Challenges in Strawberry Seedling Production in Kenya, strawberry can grow in almost any part of Kenya as long as there is a constant supply of water and temperatures not below 10 degrees or above 30 degrees.

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Gitau’s multi-storey gardens are constructed using dam liner materials with a thickness of 0.5-1mm which are cut into different sizes and fastened using bolts and nuts at the ends to form circular rings with a diameter of 4ft.

These rings reduces in size by 2 inch upwards to make layers of stakes with a wider base and a narrow top forming a pyramid-shaped structure with terraces. He plants crops at the top and the terraces on a mixture of soil and less acidic fine goats’ manure on a 50:50 ratio.

“One multi-storey garden occupies a space of 4sqft and it can accommodate between 120 and 130 plants on a six inches spacing depending on the type of vegetable and fruit planted,” said Gitau.

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From his 250 multi-storey gardens of which some he grows other crops such as onions, kales, spinach, and some indigenous vegetables, he harvests 50kg of strawberries per week at peak season such as now when the weather is warm.

He then packs them into punnets. “A punnet of strawberry fruits sells at Sh100 farm gate price and Sh120 a punnet in the market in Nairobi and Kiambu,” he said.

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Although a ready market exists with high demand especially in urban areas, strawberries are in short supply and highly costly in Kenya’s markets. Besides local demand substantial markets exist for strawberries in foreign markets, especially in the European Union.

According to National Farmers Information Service (NAFIS), strawberries are sold in supermarkets such as Tuskey, Uchumi, Nakumat and Naivas among others.

Hotels, hospitals and green grocers, food and milk processors are some of the other big buyers of the fruits.

Market price ranges from Sh50–120 per gram and Sh200–480 per kilo.      

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