Nyeri County farmer Jonathan Jomo displays onions he harvested after using Wanda Organic fertiliser, Plantmate. The fertiliser gave him onions of up to 500g each. PHOTO BY COURTESY.
Networking with urban traders has helped a Nyeri County agripreneur penetrate the emerging organic onion market, for which he supplies more than 200kg of the produce per week.
Jonathan Jomo is taking advantage of the emerging ‘do not eat chemicals’ market, which is solely sourcing farm products raised without the use of synthetic inputs such as inorganic fertilisers, pesticides, insecticides, among other.
In gripping the market, the farmer who started with onions, is expanding into tomatoes, carrots, beetroots, among others to make himself a ‘one-stop-shop’ distributor.
Jomo, supplies more than 200kg of onions to Nairobi’s high-end hotels and other clients with the help of Nairobi City based suppliers at Sh40 per kilo.
“The prices of onions in Kenya fall after those from Tanzania enter the market. That is why local farmers suffer most. But am not so worried because of the steady market I get from the suppliers, who buy from meek weekly,” he said.
Although the price is not appealing, Plantmate bio-Organic fertiliser from Wanda Organic has helped him make indirect profits from each of the onions.
According to Wanda Organic, Plantmate is a product from animal and plant waste mix. The mixture is fermented by bio-plus catalysts drawn from more than 20 beneficial micro-organisms.
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On average, farmers using inorganic fertilisers harvest onions of between 100g and 250g.
But with the Plantmate, Jomo has been harvesting onions of up to 500g each from June-July this year.
At most, he requires three onions to make one kilogramme.
From the stock he harvested at the beginning of December, 2016, he got four tonnes from a quarter of an acre.
His motivation into organic farming was the demand from leading stores like Nakumatt Supermarket, which had set aside sections for organic products, but the inconsistent supply slowed the project.
“I am staggering my transplanting schedule to ensure my customers have a continuous supply of the produce,” Jomo said.
He has onion seedlings for transplanting in January, and seeds for February and March. This programme, he says, will help him in commanding the market, and avoid shocks, which can lead to reversion to synthetic alternatives.
He has piped water and a dam that is supporting his drip irrigation through the year.