Farmer targets foreign strawberry market
When he ventured into strawberry farming, he was cocksure that all would be well. Nevertheless, things went south, due to the poor seedlings that he purchased; they produced very low yields.
Despite the fact that he unknowingly bought poor seedlings, William Njoroge did not give in, but he went ahead to indulge himself in strawberry farming.
After the challenge, he went ahead and purchased good seedlings in Ruaka, Kiambu County, and planted them.
Currently, the farmer carries out this kind of farming and trains farmers on strawberry farming in Uthiru, some few kilometres away from Nairobi.
“I ventured into strawberry farming on February 16, 2014. I started with a capital of Sh20,000, but unfortunately, I lost because the seedlings I bought were of low quality, and they bore very small fruits which could not be sold in markets.
“Later, I realized that such seedlings are very many in the markets, and farmers are dubbed to buy the seedlings which are of low quality,’’ reveals the farmer.
Njoroge says that he ventured into strawberry farming because he wanted to produce fruits which are free from chemicals, by using organic methods of farming.
Apart from that, he adds that during the time he began venturing into this kind of farming, the supply of the fruits was very low whereas the demand was very high.
Njoroge reveals that he intends to use a quarter of an acre to produce the fruits. However, he has discovered a new way of growing the plants; this by making use of bags.
According to the farmer, using bags enables one to grow strawberries using minimal space. He adds that a small space can be used to grow approximately 1,200 seedlings when one uses the bags.
“I train farmers every Saturday in our farm which is located in Waiyaki Way, in an area known as Uthiru Cooperation,’’ says the farmer, adding that the training is vital for farmers since they can be trained about how to grow the plants on raised nurseries or using bags.
Njoroge reveals that everything he does is organic- from land preparation to manure production to pests control- all are organic.
According to him, strawberries take a period of four months from the time they are planted until they are harvested. “If one grows organically, the way we do here, it will take five months to be harvested,’’ adds the farmer who grows Chandler variety.
“I grow strawberries and at the same time rear cows because I require manure from my cows in order to use it in planting the plants,’’ says Njoroge, who sells most of his fruits through Facebook.
His major challenge is getting the best quality strawberry fruits, which are produced organically. “For those who would like to venture into strawberry farming, they should first ensure that they have an adequate supply of water, because the plants require too much water,’’ advises the farmer.
His future plan is to see that he sells strawberries which he produces organically, to other countries.