Nyeri farmer, Jesse Kiorio, displays pepino fruits at his farm in Tetu in February 2016. Another farmer is making more money from fruits and bees. PHOTO BY LABAN ROBERT.
A Nyandarua County farmer has found inclusion of bees in fruit production to be more profitable as a result of the interaction between livestock and crops.
Part of Peter Njoroge Mwangi’s 20 acre piece of land is under pepino melons, tree tomatoes, and yellow passion fruits.
The rear bushy part of his farm is dotted with at least 50 beehives, which he made locally to cut on costs of the starting capital.
Mwangi attributes the constant harvest of fruits all-year-round to the support of his 24 feet well.
“I harvest tree tomatoes thrice a month. I harvest passion fruits weekly and once a month for the pepino melons. I link this to the bees, which I have learnt, are key in pollination. The water from the well is defining me as an all-season mixed farmer,” he said.
On average, Mwangi harvests 90kg of passion fruits and 130kg of pepino melons. Tree tomatoes, which are also called tamarillos, yield 120kg.
One kilogramme of tree the tomato fruits earns him Sh100 while a similar quantity of pepinos fetches Sh80.
Yellow passion fruits earn Sh50 per kilo. He sell the produce locally, a fact he says, causes low prices unlike those in urban areas, where a pepino melon fruit, for examples can fetch more than Sh50.
The totals sale from the fruits alone per month is about Sh64,400.
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Bees are agents of pollination. Given that he has a huge population of the hives, chances of failed fertilisation of the fruits are miminal, therefore, giving him a continued supply.
From the five year-old bees venture, however, he does not make as much money as from the fruits.
He harvests honey twice a year. He gets about a litre of pure honey after extraction from the wax.
And after selling each litres at Sh200, Mwangi he makes Sh20,000 in a year.
Modern beehives yield up to 10 liters of honey in three to four months. But the production is low as a result of the poor quality of the hives, which he made locally.
In inviting the bees into new or deserted hives, Mwangi crashes juicy fruits like pineapples, whose strong scent attract the insects. Those looking for new shelter, move in.