Timothy Mburu a farmer from Naromuru, Nyeri County says he struck gold four years ago after he decided to venture into garlic (Kitunguu saumu) farming, and abandoned large-scale farming of maize, potatoes and cabbage.
Timothy Mburu a farmer from Naromuru, Nyeri County says he struck gold four years ago after he decided to venture into garlic (Kitunguu saumu) farming, and abandoned large-scale farming of maize, potatoes and cabbage.Mburu invested in farming garlic based on its strong market value and the low production levels in Kenya, at a time when its demand is growing rapidly. He has since found that the crop earns six times more than its regular onion counterparts
. “I sell a kilogram of garlic at Sh300 during the good season and Sh100 in a bad season. Farmers selling regular onions bulbs sell at Sh50 per kilogram in good season and can go as low as Sh10 in bad season,” he said.
Before venturing into garlic farming, Mburu was practicing large scale farming of maize, potatoes and cabbage, which did not fetch good prices in the market due to over production, with many farmers involved in this type of farming.
“I decided to venture in this farming after I realised there was low production of garlic coupled with high demand, as many farmers do not have a lot of information regarding its production.” Mburu said.
The cost of garlic production of garlic is low as it does not require a lot of care, it’s not prone to pest and diseases, and it grows in relatively dry areas with fertile soils.
The diploma holder in agriculture said: “I plant the garlic on one acre and harvest 8 tonness selling a kilogram of fresh garlic at Sh200 to Sh300, which is good return compared to maize and potatoes farming.
”Mburu says that from the profits he is able to provide sufficiently for his family and pay school fees.
James Munga, Managing Director of the Garlic Empire Group, a company that buys and sell garlic, says the demand for this product in Kenya is very high and he has never lacked market, as its untapped.
The company, which has been operating in SADC countries has now dived in the Kenyan market and is buying from farmers at Sh150 per kilogram.
“I only export a small amount of the garlic I buy from Kenya to Zambia, as the Kenyan market has a high demand for it and to meet this demand the company is planning to expand its operations by contacting more farmers to supply to us.
”He added that farmers should venture into this lucrative business as few people practice it due to lack of sufficient information regarding its production, yet it is very marketable due to its demand.
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The unmet demand has resorted to garlic importing from China, Ethiopia and Tanzania.
But locally grown garlic is unique and the market is virtually untapped. The inferior quality garlic imported from China serve 80 per cent of the local market. But demand in Kenya is rising rapidly, on taste, but also for the bulb’s health qualities, with the medicinal plant used successfully to remove or prevent pimples and boils, relieve rheumatism, colds, coughs and sore throats, and manage diabetes and HIV and AIDS complicationsand HIV and AIDS complications.