Wednesday, March 20, 2019
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Farming the Giant Pumpkin

A single pumpkin placed on a table at a Githunguri stadium was the talk of the citizens who converged to celebrate the 2018 Jamhuri Day Celebrations.

 

The multitudes of patriotic citizens believed they were heading to the stadium to commemorate the day Kenya officially attained independence, but had no idea that someone would capture their imagination towards food security and job creation, which has proved to be a difficult task for many people, especially school leavers.

 

Employment and food security have always been highlighted in various agricultural exhibitions and field days organized by the government and stakeholders in agriculture, but rarely in national day celebrations.

 

An entrepreneur from Murang’a County stole the show during Githunguri sub-county Jamhuri day celebrations held at Githunguri stadium by the size of 20 kilogramme pumpkin.

 

Curious onlookers who arrived at the stadium rushed to his table to have a glimpse of the single pumpkin placed on the table for display, aimed at encouraging residents to embrace pumpkin farming. The commodity was so conspicuous that nobody looked at it twice before moving closer.

 

Joel Irungu, the director of Muranga based “Malenge Tamu Products Enterprises” told them that the fruit took only three months to mature and be ready for sale. “Like this one can be sold for Sh1, 000 because of its weight,” he remarked as he continued to sell packets of pumpkin seeds that were scattered on the table.

 

Surprisingly, the seeds sold for paltry Sh50. A single packet he said contained 10 seeds which he clarified should be planted in one hole for better results.

 

Henceforth, after they sprout, they will expand and each seed will produce a fruit weighing between 17 to 20 kilogrammes. From a quarter of an acre, Irungu reckoned that one would make as much as Sh400, 000 in three months and after another 3 months the farmer would make a similar profit.

 

“If this circle continues progressively, one can become a millionaire through farming and even employ more people on the farm so that they can attend to the crop closely,” he said.

 

He explained to the prospective pumpkin farmers how they could achieve a similar size of the fruit that could alleviate poverty through job creation and address their food security needs. “People will embrace pumpkin farming if they are sure the produce will be promising like this one,” he said while pointing at it.

 

While holding a small packet of the seeds, Irungu said one should dig a hole which measured 2 by 2 feet and 1 foot depth. When it was ready, he said manure from cow, goats or chicken should be added and then a little soil should follow.

 

“Hold the seed with the pointed part pointing down and plant all of them in the single hole spacing them carefully and then cover it using little soil,” he said.

 

Irungu who is the general manager of his enterprise assured those who would venture into pumpkin farming that he could buy it from them and they should therefore not worry about the market of the crop.

 

“Do not worry about the marketing aspect. Immediately your crop is ready, just get in touch with me and we shall come for it from the farm,” he told the listeners who stood marveling at the size of the produce.

 

To the amusement of those who expressed interest in pumpkin farming, some men got excited that the produce would increase their libido and allow them to have as many wives as possible since Africans were polygamous by nature.

 

The pumpkin flour would also address health problems like diabetes and obesity.

 

By Lydia Shiroya

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