News and knowhow for farmers

Increased market demand excites Tigoni gooseberry producer

Stephene Mwanzia at gooseberry stand

SunBerry Berry Enterprise, a gooseberry farm at Tigoni in Kiambu County has increased the acreage under the fruit production from 20 to 40 acres to meet the growing market demand by the local consumers due to the nutrition benefts of the wild fruit.

According to Stephen Mwanzia, the chief operations officer at the farm, it was not easy to market the fruits or its value-added products such as juice and snacks to prospective consumers as it was regarded as wild fruit.

“When we started the company in 2016 it was not easy to sell our first fruits following the belief by many people in Kenya that then fruits grow on their own in bushy areas or in the forest and people would just go and pick them,” said Mwanzia.

However, SunBerry Berry Enterprise has turned the fruits into a cash cow by producing it for its fresh fruits and making other products out of the fruits which attract more cash.

Just five litres of gooseberry juice goes for Sh1,500 while the dried fruits used to make standalone snacks that are sold according to other products used to blend it. This has offered the farm a unique agribusiness opportunity in the country.

“Our healthy berries are unique in Kenya. Did you know that eating gooseberries is nearly as good as taking a multivitamin or maybe even better?” Posed Mwanzia, “One serving of dried berries provides an astonishing 45 per cent of your daily value of vitamins A, C, B1, B2, and B6. The same single serving includes a six per cent daily serving of iron.”

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Today, the fruit’s nutritional value has resulted in its rise in demand especially among the current health-conscious consumers and smallholder farmers in Kenya who can earn up to Sh750,000 an acre from the fruit which is also known as Cape gooseberry or goldenberry.

Researchers assert that other than vitamins the fruit is also rich in protein and phosphorus making it anti-inflammatory, and which could help in the management of cancer, leukemia, diabetes and hepatitis among other lifestyle diseases hence the rise in demand.

In addition, the fruit has a shelf life of around 35 days when harvested in its calyx compared with shelled fruit of about seven days.

Gooseberry crumb cake, gooseberry cake, jam and wine are other sources of income for the farmer.

SunBerry Berry Enterprise produces organic gooseberry at farmlands in Tigoni and another newly acquired land at Lanet, Nakuru.

Caption: Stephen Mwanzia pointing at gooseberry seedlings at SunBerry Berry Enterprise stand at the just concluded Nairobi International Trade Fair. Photo: Zablon Oyugi.

The company can be reached on [email protected] and Stephen Mwanzia on [email protected] or on +254 765 279 330/745 579 660

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