Cucumber is a cylindrical, elongated with tapered end fruit with varying lengths from fruit to the other. Cucumber is listed among the foods of the ancient years, and it has been cultivated for more than three thousand years till today.
It has is believed to have originated from India, and later, Greeks and the Romans spread it to the other parts of the world. In Kenya, too, the farming of cucumber is also spreading, and farmers are embracing it by venturing in it.
As a result, the Kilimo pesa team visited Irene Kihoro’s greenhouse, where she started the venture early this year as an experiment trial for the crop. Her farm is located on Maombi farm two kilometers North East from the Kabazi center in Nakuru County, where she welcomed us in her greenhouse at around 11: AM.
Mrs. Kihoro ventured in cucumber farming in May this after reading an article and through support from her daughter Joyce Mwaniki she succeeded.
“Farming is my hobby as you can see how I have diversified my farm; hence, when I read the article, I took the step to make it happen.” The farmer said. She established a greenhouse of eight by 30 meters connecting it with water system through drips with a capital of around one hundred and fifty shillings to experiment.
“After completing full greenhouse preparation, I planted the cucumber plants in early June,” she said.
She adds that the greenhouse is economical, and it utilizes the land. After ten weeks, she harvested the first harvest of 71 kilograms. Since the first harvest, she has been collecting an average of 60 to 80 kilograms weekly.
“The yield has been good since the first harvest where I usually, harvest around 80 kilograms weekly, and when the harvest is low, it does not go below 60 kilos, which I sell at 40 Kenyan Shilling per Kilogram,” she said.
Mrs. Kihoro being a retired teacher has seen significant benefits in growing cucumber as the plant is easy to manage because it does not require much labour.
“Despite earning me profit, the venture keeps me engaged by making me exercise while I am carrying out daily activities tendering the cucumbers in the greenhouse,” she adds.
Currently, she is finalizing in harvesting the last bunch of the cucumbers as she prepares to plant new seedlings that she is expecting will earn her much more.
“As I told you earlier, this was just a first-time trial, and it has enlightened me so much as far as cucumber farming is concerned,” says the farmer adding that the plant grows fast and gives excellent returns to the farmer and thus she is ready to soldier on with zeal without tiring.
However, the farmer has encountered some challenges in cucumber farming. One of the challenges she faces is fluctuating market prices.
“Cucumbers are not yet popular at the village level. I rely on markets that are far, selling them to dealers from Nakuru town,” she said.
Mrs. Kihoro added that the prices are relatively lower, as she usually sees in articles where one kilogram goes for a price of between 50 to 60 Kenyan shillings. She also encountered some cucumber diseases, but they are relatively controllable, thus not a great threat to the farmer.
Despite the challenges, she is determined to keep moving on and encouraging other retirees to think of venturing in the same. “In most of the time, a new thing is encountered by a lot of challenges due to lack of wide knowledge, but the challenges have made me wiser and stronger to soldier on,” she said.