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Kibwezi farmer banks on long term mkwaju farm investment

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A visit to Kenya Plant Health In­spect­or­ate Ser­vice (KEPHIS) Mom­basa in­spired Luke Kim­weli to try a new crop on his one acre farm in Janu­ary 2016: a crop that is now earn­ing him Sh840,000 per sea­son from his farm in Emali, Kib­wezi. But, within five years, that same crop should be earn­ing him Sh5m a year for the next 40 to 50 years.

“I had heard of the tree being grown in Kib­wezi, but I had not put much in­terest in it, but after my visit I saw its po­ten­tial as a crop, since it has var­ied use ran­ging from Juice ex­trac­tion, jam mak­ing, raw con­sump­tion, among oth­ers I de­cided to give it a try,” said Luke.

Start­ing out, Luke bought 80 seed­lings at a cost of Sh50 per seed­ling from KEPHIS.

Re­lated News: Bud-graft­ing cuts tam­ar­ind (mk­waju) ma­tur­ity period by eight years

“I was ad­vised to plant the seed­lings at a dis­tance of 7m by 7m: this way all my 80 seed­lings would be ac­com­mod­ated on my one acre farm,” he said.

Al­though he is yet to see the full be­ne­fits of his trees, since it has only been four years of farm­ing, Luke has been able to har­vest from the young trees at least 30 kilos of fruit per tree per year.

His gains will rise much fur­ther, since while a young tree yields 20kg to 30kg of fruit, a full-grown tree yields about 150kg to 200kg of fruit per tree per year, ac­cord­ing to KEPHIS. 

“A tam­ar­ind tree takes 8 to 12 years to fully ma­ture, but it starts pro­du­cing pods from as early as three years and that is what I am lever­aging on. Out of all my 80 trees, I am already get­ting 2,400 kilos a year, where I sell a kilo of the pods at Sh300 per kilo for bulk buy­ers and Sh400 for in­di­vidu­als who come to buy dir­ectly from me,” said Luke.

Tam­ar­ind is a ro­bust tree that is well ad­ap­ted to semi-arid trop­ics and cre­ates a long-term farm­ing asset. The ini­tial wait­ing time for it to move into pro­ductiv­ity is longer than for many other crops, but once pro­duct­ive, the tree will pro­duce pods for between 50 and 60 years, mak­ing it a life-long earner.

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“Since I am no longer a prac­ti­cing en­gin­eer, the grow­ing of a tam­ar­ind tree has served as a form of pen­sion fund for me, since I will con­stantly get in­come from it now,” said Luke.

The tree is not very de­mand­ing in its nu­tri­tional re­quire­ments. Ex­perts re­com­mend young trees are fer­til­ised every two to three months with a 6-6-3 NPK or sim­ilar fer­til­iser, while adult trees should be fer­til­ized with 8-3-9 NPK or sim­ilar fer­til­iser.

Har­vest­ing of the ma­ture pods in done in the months of May and June by pulling or cut­ting the pod away from the stalk.

Tam­ar­ind seed­lings can be bought from Peter Kim­weli KEPHIS ex­ten­sion of­ficer on 0701573373 or Mil­li­cent Manesa on 0721652943

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