Paul Kabucwa from Opica Farm holds a 37kg pumpkin fruit for display at the North Rift Agricultural Society of Kenya Show on October 29, 2016. A Marigat farmer got more than Sh140,000 by selling the pumpkins to Opica Farm in October 2016. PHOTO BY LABAN ROBERT.
A Baringo County farmer, who sold about 800kg of pumpkins to an agribusiness farm, is scaling up the production to more than one acre in the next season after realising more than Sh140,000 from eight plants.
Rachel Cheboite delivered 800kg to Opica Firm in Nyeri after harvesting the fruits, which she had started sharing with neighbours after seeing no possible market for the ‘giant’ pumpkins.
Cheboite met an Opica Farm officer during the mid October Kabarnet Branch Agricultural society of Kenya Show.
“I had bought the seeds from Margat (a town in Baringo County). I was told they are drought tolerant and their yield is high. From the eight seeds planted, the fruits were more than 20kg each. I never knew where to sell them until Opica visited my home and offered to buy them,” she said.
The plants gave between three and six fruits each.
Opica Farm contracts farmers to grow its two pumpkin varieties, which are green and brown. The Marigat farmer grew the green variety, although she never got it from Opica. The firm buys the fruit from farmers at Sh180 per kilo.
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This farmer delivered more than 30 pieces, which were weighing between 20kg and 40kg at the end of October, 2016 and earned Sh144,000.
The firm has partnered with flour processing companies, which use the ground fruit as an ingredient in products like ujimix and mineral supplements.
The soft skin is of the pumpkin is blended into juice while the seeds are ground into zinc pellets.
The flour is also used in baking cakes.
Cheboite has been contracted by the farm to deliver the pumpkins.