Willian Kibe (right) training some of the youth at his farm in Uthiru. He trains between three and five youth once every week. Photo courtesy.
When William Kibe started strawberry farming in 2015 at his eighth piece of a plot at Uthiru, a settlement in Kiambu County on the northwest side of the city centre of Nairobi there was no farmer who was producing the fruit organically in the area to supply to the growing number of consumers.
This made him to start training willing young people in organically produced strawberries which the consumers were looking for. In this he believed that with time there will be an increased number of farmers to satisfy the growing appetite for the fruits.
“Before starting off in this venture, I moved around to find those who could have been growing the crop. Unfortunately, the few I found were using chemicals and synthetic fertilisers in their production something which has not been going well with the health-conscious consumers of today,” said Kibe.
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He then moved to spend Sh20,000 capital he got from selling his chicken he was keeping while in school to buy seedlings worth Sh8,000 and used the rest of the money on labour and buy manure from livestock farmers in the area.
Due to squeezed space, he has employed the use of growing bags made from shed nets by one of his trainees while the rest are planted on a well-prepared ground using smaller bags.
Kibe grows Chandler variety of strawberries which gives both fruits and runners for propagation.
“Since I started strawberry farming I have been multiplying my own runners for propagation while some I sell to starters in this venture,” said the 2012 Information Technology graduate from Africa Nazarene University.
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Kibe had a quarter piece of a plot at Kiserian which he had made his production site while the Uthiru farm, a training farm. However, due to water challenges at Kiserian farm escalating production costs he has planned to settle at Uthiru for every activity.
Apart from growing the fruits in shed nets which he says reduces water wastage during irrigation, he has also dug 100ft borehole from which he draws water for watering the plants during dry seasons.
His production ranges from 20-30 kilos per week. He sells a kilo at Sh150 while a punnet goes at Sh235 each translating to about Sh4,500 per week.
“My consumers are 99.5 per cent individuals who place orders every week for the fruits,” said Kibe.
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Using the experience he has gathered for over four years now, he trains between three and five youth every Saturday every week who also turn into producers and who also train others in a bid to increase the number of producers.
“Today there are so many demands for organically produced strawberry fruits that I cannot meet. The demands span from supermarkets, other retail outlets and homes as the use of the fruits is widespread,” said Kibe.
Kibe can be reached on +254723701237