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Kiambu farmer turns his love for fruits into a money minting venture

pawpaw

Five years ago Benson Wakaba, a farmer from Kiambu County, because of his love for fruits, decided to plant 50 pawpaw trees, guavas and some bananas around his compound instead of flowers just for his home consumption to reduce his expense on buying food.

However, after some time Wakaba and his wife Esther Wairimu who had bought one-acre piece of land near Starehe Girls High School to build a family home would realise much harvest that surpass their need. They then decided to commercialize the venture which is currently earning them sums of money daily.

 “I had never done farming before. I tried it just to keep myself busy and because I love crops and animals. But after the crops matured, we got good market for it,” said Wakaba.

Traders from Kiambu market and his neighbours would stream to his compound to buy the bananas and pawpaws.

“We had not seen the commercial importance of the crops we were planting. My wife begun selling the produce to her friends and the clientele grew, so we decided to commercialise it,” Mr Wakaba says.

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They decided to take the venture more seriously.

“We planted more bananas and pawpaw. We also decided to do away with maize and replaced it with vegetables. We sunk a borehole for irrigation and hired some labourers,” he says.

Mr Wakaba has built two water tanks with a volume of 70,000 and 30,000 litres and installed an automatic drip irrigation system.

Presently, he has about 200 tissue bananas, 400 paw paws, kale, spinach, black night shade, and capsicum, among other vegetables.

While Mr Wakaba spends most of the time supervising the farm, his wife, who also runs a beauty shop in Kiambu town, deals with the marketing and selling of the produce.

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While leaving home in the morning, she delivers her orders to wholesale and retail clients.

Occasionally, she is forced to make a trip back to fetch more produce.

“We deliver the produce on order. We deliver to traders at Kiambu market, while other clients come to collect their orders. The clients prefer our produce because it is clean and fresh,” Ms Wairimu said.

On a typical day, the couple makes Sh3,000 from bananas (Fhia type) and Sh1,500 from vegetables. The bananas and vegetables are harvested throughout the year.

“From a bunch of bananas, we earn between Sh600 and Sh1,600,” she says.

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The banana types in their farm are Giant Cavendish, Grand Nain, which are ripened, and Kampala Green that is cooked.

They have 400 pawpapaw trees of the Solo Sunrise variety, each which will yield about 200 fruits each. A fruit, he said, goes for between Sh50 and Sh100. They sell both on retail and wholesale basis.

Though they have not been using experts in their farming, Mr Wakaba has been reading a lot of farming related literature. However, he now intends to work with experts to improve on his farming.

After realising how lucrative banana and pawpaw farming is, Mr Wakaba decided to buy a seven-acre piece of land in Githunguri where he intends to extend his farming.

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Recently, he bought 50,000 seeds of the Solo Sunrise pawpaw variety. He has already planted 4,000 of them on a seed bed. He intends to sell them to interested farmers and plant the rest on the seven-acre farm.

At the farm, the couple also rears Kenbro chicken, which not only feed on the crop waste and produce eggs, but also provide organic manure. The farm does not use any chemical or fertiliser.

The couple has been receiving farmers who are interested in learning their kind of farming. They charge a small fee for this. Wakaba intends to add value to his produce to increase his returns.

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