Salome Saina is earning Sh20, 000 weekly from pineapples from her three acre farm in Lolkeringet location Nandi County, a fruit she decided to cultivate 10 years ago after abandoning maize farming.
“I used to plant maize but the production was low such that we only used it subsistence farming, but since I ventured into pineapple farming I have been generating income week in week out all year round” said Salome.
“Pineapple farming is a lucrative business that requires little capital investment but gives high returns with minimal management as they can do well even in the period of long dry spells”
Maize farming proved expensive for the farmer as she always spent roughly 30,000 on an acre to purchase seeds, fertilizers, ploughing land and purchasing of chemicals to control weeds. Pineapples however, require minimal fertilizer and are rarely affected by pests and diseases when compared to maize.
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Pineapples grow well at altitudes ranging from 100m to 1800m above sea level with rainfall ranges from 600 to about 1500mm annually. The crop does well in soils with high murram content as they allow for aeration than those with high clay content.
She started the venture in 2007, planting over 500 seedlings in an eighth of an acre after purchasing the suckers from a neighbor. Each sucker cost her Sh10. She applied 10 wheelbarrows of farm yard manure and planted using the double row system which makes it easier to manage and also gives higher yields.
It took roughly nine months for the fruits to mature and yield the first fruits which she sold at between Sh20 and Sh50 depending on the size of the fruits. Proceeds were used to cultivate and widen the size of the land under pineapples. As pineapples grow they develop suckers which Salome transplanted to the rest of her three acre farm with the help of her children.
“Before planting, sorting should be done to separate slips, suckers and trash, only healthy suckers should be used for planting and the defective ones removed to ensure uniformity”
The farmer says it is important to weed the plants regularly to ensure maximum production, calcium ammonium nitrate (CAN) can also be added at the rate of one bag per acre once in a year to promote growth and development of important plant tissues. One bag of CAN costs Sh1800 to Sh2100 in various agro vets.
Salome now harvests more than 200 fruits in a week which she sells at various markets within Nandi County including Kabiyet, Mosoriot, and Kaiboi. Each fruit is sold at between Sh30 to Sh80 depending on the size. But if the fruit is cut and sold in pieces the returns are high fetching more than Sh150. This endeavor earns her over Sh20, 000 in a good week.
In this, she has been able to educate her children comfortably besides earning income to sustain her family’s livelihood.
The horticulture industry in Kenya has been ranked as the fastest growing sub sector in agriculture in Kenya with revenues from exports jumping by 11 per cent in 2017 to Sh115.25bn.
In this fruits and vegetables earned nine billion shillings and Sh24bn respectively on export volumes of 56,945 tonnes and 87,240 tonnes respectively.
She can be reached on +254 707411042