One cucumber farmer from Kiambu County is betting on his nearness to the high-end vegetable outlets within Nairobi which he sauces before embarking on the production of the fruit to make prompt sales to avoid losses that his peers incur at harvest due to the high perishability of the crop.
Statistics indicates that cucumber post-harvest losses account for up to 40 per cent of total yield hence the fruit should reach the market and end consumer as fast as possible while still fresh.
“Entering into this venture, I first had to understand cucumbers as one of the highly perishable crops, and market research was my first priority. I am lucky that Nairobi which offers a good market for the produce is just some 45km away and reaching my contracted markets has saved me a lot,” said Gabriel Njoroge.
Njoroge, who is also a tomato farmer, searched for cucumber suppliers to the high-end vegetable outlets within Nairobi before embarking on production of the fruit at his Thika farm.
The supplier has agreed to buy the produce at a cost ranging from Sh45 to Sh60 per kilo-depending on the quality of the harvest for one year.
Unlike tomatoes, which are household cooking ingredients for almost all classes of people, the farmer said one is likely to sink into losses for blindly investing in cucumber if they do not know the target consumers.
Having sold tomatoes for one and half years in Nairobi, Njoroge contacted and struck a deal with a friend who buys cucumbers in large quantities before selling them to Nairobi supermarkets, Wakulima Market and Gikomba.
“The buyer asked me to grow five sets of 100 seedlings each. The sets must have an age difference of two to three weeks. This difference will be maintained through the growth process until harvesting. For that reason, I will be supplying given kilogrammes of cucumbers every week,” he said.
The first set is two weeks old and by the time Farmbiz Africa caught up with Njoroge, he was transplanting the second batch.
Besides ensuring constant revenue flow for the farmer, the variation in transplanting date regulates the supply to the market, therefore, avoiding flooding, which reduces costs.
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In sustaining the supply through the year, he has bought two tanks of 500 litres each to support irrigation. He relies on his father’s 1976 pump to push water from a nearby river into the farm. He is using drip after abandoning can irrigation.