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Irrigation keeps pawpaws producing

pawpaw Magwagwa Nyamira by Laban Robert.JPG

Two Magwagwa, Nyamira County, farmers pointing at pawpaw fruits. Jared Nyakeera is selling pawpaws at better prices after irrigating the fruits when it was dry. Photo by Laban Robert.

As the rains set in, Nyamira County farmer Jared Nyakeera is enjoying the growing demand for pawpaws after irrigating the less than 30 trees for the last five months of the dry spell.

Crops and animals died countrywide since November last years.

But for Nyakeera, 20litres of water was sufficient to water the 26 pawpaws growing about two metres away from the live hedge.

The Magwagwa farmer sells the fruit to aggregators, who target urban markets like Nairobi.

Currently, the cost of one kilo of pawpaws in Nairobi costs between Sh40 and Sh50 at wholesale.

For the past three weeks, the farmer has been harvesting an average of 120kg of fruits from the 24 female pawpaw trees; two are males.

“I sell one kilo at 30 shillings. It is uneconomical for me to transport small quantities of the pawpwas to Nairobi or any other town weekly.  They are perishable and fragile when ripe, therefore, they need to go to the market soonest possible. That is why I sell my produce to the buyers who move around,” he said.

Although not many farmers have the fruits as compare to those with bananas and pineapples, Nyakeera said when the supply is high he only gets between Sh15 and Sh20 per kilo, he said.

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Although the water levels in his 65-feet well dropped, the farmer hated seeing the flowers falling off the trees as the drought persisted from September 2016.

Each of them has more than 25 pawpaw fruits at different development stages.

It was a cheap investment offering him about Sh3,600 every two weeks from the sale of an average of 120kg.

“It was easy to irrigate the pawpaws unlike the 2,000 teas bushes. At least I am getting something small to sustain my family as I wait for the tea to recover from the drought effects,” he said.

The pawpaws are grown alongside the main seasonal crop such as maize or sweet potatoes.

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