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Msambweni farmer produces certified coconut seedlings to meet acute shortage

A farmer named Mwinyi Amir Bendera, hailing from Kinondo in Msambweni, Kwale County, has taken a proactive approach to address the shortage of clean coconut planting materials faced by his colleagues and institutions. By focusing on seedling production instead of traditional subsistence farming, Bendera aims to provide high-quality seedlings to meet the growing demand. This article highlights his journey and the significance of his efforts in the coconut industry.

Transitioning from Subsistence Farming to Seedling Production

Bendera’s Background and Motivation

Mwinyi Amir Bendera, a 59-year-old farmer, comes from a farming family that cultivated cashew nuts, coconuts, mangoes, and oranges on a small scale. In 2010, he recognized the limitations of relying on the current crop for seedlings and decided to shift his focus to commercial farming and seedling production.

Training and Knowledge Acquisition

Amir attended training sessions conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture and the Kenya Coconut Development Authority (KCDA) at Mombasa Polytechnic in May 2010. These trainings provided him with valuable insights into coconut farming and in-depth knowledge of seedling production techniques.

Acquiring Seedlings and Establishing the Farm

Following the training, Bendera purchased seedlings of two varieties, East Africa tall and dwarf coconut, from a Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (KALRO) center in the region. He allocated a portion of his six-and-a-half-acre land to plant the seedlings, which matured in four to six months and started producing nuts. He utilized the nuts to propagate the crop and increase seedling production.

From Individual Farmer to Seedling Production Company

Meeting Increasing Demand

As more farmers expressed interest in his seedlings, Amir recognized the opportunity to meet the growing demand. Encouraged by the interest shown by fellow farmers, he decided to raise more seedlings and establish a company to cater to the market.

Establishment of Gazi Farm Enterprises Ltd

In June 2016, Mwinyi Amir Bendera founded Gazi Farm Enterprises Ltd after obtaining a production certificate from the KCDA. This certification enabled him to sell coconut seedlings to other farmers and institutions.

Supplying Seedlings and Expanding Market Reach

Seedling Inventory and Sales

At present, Bendera has more than 15,000 coconut seedlings available for planting. He sells East Africa tall coconut seedlings for Sh200 each and East Africa dwarf coconut seedlings for Sh400 each. His customers include farmers from various parts of Kenya, institutions, and organizations purchasing seedlings for farmers.

Distribution Channels

To reach consumers efficiently, Amir employs courier services and public transport to distribute the seedlings. He has even started exporting seedlings to Uganda based on specific orders.

Heading 4: Planting Guidelines and Varietal Considerations

Choosing the Right Variety

Amir advises farmers to determine their production goals before selecting a coconut variety since different varieties offer varying qualities. Some farmers may wish to intercrop coconuts with other crops, influencing their choice of varieties.

Planting Spacing Recommendations

For tall coconut varieties, an 8×8 or 9×9-meter spacing is recommended, or 12×12 meters if intercropping is planned. On the other hand, dwarf coconut varieties should be planted with a spacing of 6×6 or 7×7 meters, or 10×10 meters for intercropping purposes.

Maturity and Lifespan

Dwarf coconut varieties reach maturity in 3-4 months, while tall varieties, yielding 40-60 nuts during

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