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    Farmers cash in on rising jackruit demand

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    Eric Munene grew up with sev­eral jack­fruit plants in his homestead in Kibugua re­gion of Chuka, a town on the east­ern slopes of Mount Kenya. However, it was only re­cently that he began to re­cog­nize it as a valu­able plant. 

    The jack­fruitis a mul­tiple fruit con­sist­ing of sev­eral small one-seeded fruit­lets. The en­tire fruit weighs 4.5-50 kg and is oval, ob­long or el­lips­oid in shape. The fruit, which is covered by a rub­bery rind and hard spines is pale or dark green when young, green­ish-yel­low, yel­low or brown­ish when ma­ture. 

    Once un­known to a ma­jor­ity of Kenyans, the jack­fruit’s pop­ular­ity has grown tre­mend­ously thanks to the ex­plo­sion of road­side sellers in Na­k­uru, Sagana and Mom­basa. For Munene, whose fam­ily had grown tired of the sug­ary fruit, the new de­mand promp­ted him to plant more trees, and he is already re­port­ing im­proved in­comes as the mar­ket re­mains con­stant all year round

    Re­lated News: Farm­Biz TV:Mighty jack­fruit is a Sh250k-a-year tree in Mom­basa.

    Re­lated News: The Kenyan farm­ers pi­on­eer­ing dragon fruit farm­ing—the Sh1000/kg fruit

    “Grow­ing up, we had more of the fruit than we could use, and be­cause it was a com­mon plant in our neigh­bour­hood, we did not see any com­mer­cial value in it. Often, we would have the fruits rot­ting as we fed some to cows,” said Munene. 

    Munene’s at­ti­tude to the plant changed in 2008, when, as a uni­versity stu­dent, he vis­ited Mom­basa to find fruit vendors selling a sliceof the fruit at KSh100. 

    I was shocked that a fruit we found use­less in my home area was fetch­ing al­most KSh1000 in Mom­basa. More sur­pris­ing was the fact that there were ready buy­ers for it,” he said. 

    He later went back home and planted more jack­fruit, to in­crease his fam­ily’s tree count to 30Today, Munene har­vests up to 3000 fruits per sea­son, each fetch­ing him KSh400 at the farm. 

    “It is a prof­it­able ven­ture from where I stand be­cause the crop does not re­quire any in­tens­ive man­age­ment. Often, the biggest task re­quired of me is to har­vest,” said Munene

    Yet, he is not the only one who is gain­ing from the ex­plo­sion in de­mand for the fruit. In Baringo County, sev­eral farm­ers who planted the tree less than a dec­ade ago are un­able to sat­isfy the in­terest rising in Na­k­uru town. 

    A road­side mar­ket com­ing up between Na­k­uru’s Sobea and Ngata Bridge re­gions has ex­cited the at­ten­tion of en­thu­si­astic travelers with the jack­fruit as an ad­di­tional product to the now pop­u­lar wa­ter­mel­ons.

    We have sev­eral farm­ers in Baringo who sup­ply us with jack­fruits. We just re­cently dis­covered the fruit but it is selling really well here,” said Mary Wairimu, who sells a ma­ture jack­fruit at an av­er­age price of KSh650. The farm­ers, in Baringo, get KSh300-400 for each fruit. 

    Re­lated News: Proper plant­ing for over 10 tonnes from acre of sweet pota­toes

    The jack­fruit grows in trop­ical, near trop­ical and sub­trop­ical re­gionsPropag­ated from seeds, the jack­fruit starts pro­du­cing after six years with each tree yield­ing 100 – 200 fruits per year. The tree re­quires little care and apart from the peri­odic ap­plic­a­tion of fer­til­izer, the jack­fruit is self-sus­tain­ing. 

    For jack­fruit seed­lings and more in­form­a­tion on its care, reach out to the Kenya Ag­ri­cul­tural and Liv­er­stock Re­search Or­gan­iz­a­tion (KALRO) via phone+254 202176420 or email: cri@kalro.org

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