As banana growers wait for nine months to get about Sh500 from on bunch another agripreneur is making twice the same amount in two weeks by ripening the fingers for sale to schools.
Afro Ochieng’ buys and ripens the fruit for wholesale to schools around Nyamusi Sub-county, Nyamira County.
A 70kg to 80kg banana costs Ochieng about Sh600. The only ‘value addition’ he does is letting the bananas ripens for four to seven days before packing the hands into the standard bread crates.
“Each crate earns Sh3,000. One needs three bananas bunches to fill the crate. For every full bunch, I make between Sh1,000 and Sh1,100. For some farmers ripening and selling is tedious, but for me, it is my pay,” he said.
The farmer, who also has 20 stands of banana bushes, said secondary schools are his main market.
Ochieng sells at least nine crates every week to Mochenwa, St. Kaiser, among other secondary schools in Nyamusi Su-county.
“Schools buy at wholesale. The trick is having extra money to buy the bananas from those farmers who need ready cash. Ikonge, Magwawa, Riomego, Ekerenyo are renowned places for banana growing, therefore, the supply is steady,” he said.
A banana takes about nine months and one year to grow from a sucker to yielding. By the end of this period, a banana of about 90kg- from tissue culture or another Kisii local variety called ng’ombe- earns farmers Sh800 to Sh900.
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Apart from the old 20 stools, he has expanded the banana by adding 80 fresh ones to have him covered during shortages.
Ochieng is part of the Misire Self- help Group, which also bakes bread, cakes and other products from bananas for sale to various outlets in Kisii, Nyamira, Kericho and other neighbouring counties.
The group also dries and grinds banana peelings into power for sale. Banana peelings ‘dust’ is said to lower the ulcer effect due to the various minerals in the uncooked materials.