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Urban farmer scaling up his income by organic strawberry farming

William Kibe strawberry farmer
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William Kibe planting strawberry runners. He grows Chandler variety from which he harvests fruits to sell and runners for propagation. Photo courtesy.

Strawberry farmer at Uthiru, a settlement along Waiyaki Way on the northwest side of the city centre of Nairobi is earning up to Sh4,500 a week from organic strawberry farming after leaving poultry farming which was prone to theft.

William Kibe who is a 2012 Information Technology graduate from Africa Nazarene University used to keep chicken while schooling. However, due to lack of close supervision, his chicken was always being stolen and by the time he was graduating he had just remained with some few to sell off.

“After graduating I sold all the remaining chicken and realized about Sh20,000. This the capital I would use to begin strawberry farming which I after some online research I realized will be feasible within my small piece of plot,” said William.

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Before venturing into production, he moved around just to find out what other farmers were doing in comparison to market demand. This is what influenced his decision to go organic since most farmers in the area were using fertilisers and chemicals to grow the crop against consumers’ preference for organically produced fruits.

He then decided to invest the Sh20,000 in the production by buying seeds of Chandler strawberry variety at Sh8,000 while the rest of the money went into labour and buying manure from livestock farmers in the area.

“I chose to do Chandler because the variety gives both the fruits for sale and runners from which I propagate the crop hence I do not need to buy seeds from time to time,” said William.

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Within two to three years the venture picked up and he decided to lease a quarter acre farm at Kiserian, a town located in Kenya about 21km south-west of Nairobi from where he would make his production site while the Uthiru farm remains training and runners multiplication site.

However, after about three years of production at Kiserian, William has faced constant water problem and he has slowly vacated the farm to make his Uthiru base both his production and training site.

“I have in the past faced with shortage of water for irrigation and this was pushing my production high. To resolve this I have dug a 100ft borehole which provides me with constant water supply besides adopting growing bags that help me utilize the small space well and limit my water usage.”

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Today, his production per week can go up to 30kg.  He sells a kilo at Sh150 while a punnet goes at Sh235 each translating to about Sh4,500 per week. His key markets are individual consumers who place their orders weekly.

He grows the crop organically by use of livestock manure and refrains from chemicals application which may affect his market.

William is also training between three and five youth every Saturday every week who also turn into producers.

“The youth I train are willing individuals with passion for farming. The youth are drawn from learning institutions and youth groups within the area,” said William.

William can be reached on +254723701237

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