Nyeri farmer Wilson Ndung’u is selling grafted apple varieties that can yield three times more fruits within one year as opposed to non-grafted varieties that take three to four years to mature therefore giving farmers high returns within a short period of time.
The farmer sells various varieties such as sharps early, fuji, gala, Ann, red delicious and winter banana at Sh1,000 each.
The varieties which were imported from South Africa at Sh70,000 according to Ndung’u have potential yields of up to 260 fruits per tree when compared to normal ones that yield roughly 80 fruits.
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“Grafting of apples allows for production of hybrid fruits which are on demand in international markets such as the European Union,” said Ndung’u.
Kenya is ranked at number 88 out of 93 apple exporters in the world with the country exporting just 779 tonnes of the fruit annually.
In the 2016/2017 season, China, which is ranked number one and is the largest exporter sold 43,500 metric tonnes. They were followed by USA which exported 12,295 metric tonnes, the European Union 4649 tonnes, and Turkey 2700 tonnes while India closed the top five positions with 1900 tonnes according to statista.com.
Ndung’u observes that grafted apple seedlings take about four months to mature in the nursery. To graft them, he uses scions and healthy rootstocks.
Apples grow best in a soil pH of 5.5 -6.5, and farmers can have their soils tested by contacting companies such as Soil Cares Africa, which charge between KSh2,000 and KSh5,000 for tests.
Temperatures of between 21°C and 24°C and altitudes of 1,500m to 2,700m above sea level offers best optimum conditions for the fruit to thrive.
Apple seedlings require a good water supply, and with proper care, fruits can be harvested even in areas typically not favorable for the crop production like Machakos.
Wilson Ndung’u can be reached on +254714080532.