Mary Gathoni Kiuni who grows strawberry in a quarter acre piece of land in Limuru is earning more from the venture by using the fruits to make and sell jam and juice as opposed to selling the fruits alone.
Gathoni started farming strawberry in 2006 after attending a training at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) by Ministry of Agriculture on how to grow the crop and add value to it for more income.
“I got introduced to the venture twelve years ago upon attending attaining training which exposed me to the benefits coming by growing the fast maturing crop,” said Gathoni.
According to her, the crop takes about three months to mature depending on the temperature condition of a place. It takes even below three months to mature in warmer areas as compared to colder places and this even reflects during harvesting as much rain resulting to coldness slows production.
For the fruits, Gathoni harvest up to 100 punnets a day and she harvests twice a week or even more when it is warm. She sells a punnet of strawberry fruits at Sh100 farm gate price and Sh120 a punnet in the market.
“I harvest sometimes 50, 80 or even 100 punnets a day which are bout on order from the farm or sometimes I take them to Limuru Town and markets within Nairobi. I also sell during farmers open days, agricultural shows and exhibitions.”
“Market is big for strawberry fruits and a farmer cannot go wrong by growing the crop.”
To avoid any wastage, she has been using any remaining fruits which are not bought or small in size and are undesirable to traders to make juice and jam upon approval by Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) in 2007 a year after she started farming strawberries.
However, she has since stopped making juices to concentrate on jam which she says is on high demand as compared to juice.
“I have been dividing my focus on selling the fruits, making and selling jam and juice something which exhaustive. That is why I no longer make juice for sale but instead for subsistence use to concentrate on jam,” said Gathoni.
She makes 30-30 kilos of jam a day. She sells 120 grams at Sh100, 300 grams at Sh150 and 500 grams at Sh250. She also sells strawberry seedlings at Sh30 each.
She has since become an expert in the sector offering training at Sh500 per head to fellow farmers. She also lectures on the same at JKUAT on an invitation when women from all the 47 counties gather there for an agribusiness empowerment forum.
“This strawberry farming has made me gone places and educate many fellow women and farmers in general. I train during agricultural shows, farmers’ open days, on an invitation for lectures and at my farm for farmers who like more practical courses,” said Gathoni.
In December last year, she was among 830 strong-team from Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, South Sudan and the host country Burundi to grace the 18th edition of the annual East Africa Community Jua Kali/Nguvu Kazi Exhibition where she offered a training.