Grafting as an art to blend tree species and improve on fruit varieties has for decades been practiced by farmers seeking to maximize their yields.
Fruit farmers countrywide cherish to raise species that can guarantee them maximum profits. It is against this backdrop that Mkulima Mfalme tree nursery that specializes in grafting of fruit trees came to be.
The renowned nursery has allegedly offered farmers in Nyandarua county high yielding fruit seedlings including apple and avocado that can withstand the chilly weather. It is located at Green valley estate on the outskirts of Nyahururu town.
Sarah Ngoge, the nursery owner says, she started it to earn money and also help in creating employment opportunities.
“Agriculture has been my passion since childhood. I always thought of something that can be profitable as I had no piece of land of my own to practice large scale farming,” she starts us off.
The well-arranged seed beds, the tender shoots held in place to their adoptive parent plant with nylon straps, show the dedication of the workers here.
Fruit seedlings, grafted with better species, sell handsomely. For instance, a grafted apple seedling costs Sh500 and an avocado Sh200.
She said avocado farming has lately gained popularity in the region that had shunned it for long.
“In as much as I enjoy my job, there are a lot of challenges involved including customers wanting the seedlings to be sold at lower prices and seedlings theft. Some customers also doubt our seedlings despite them being certified,” added Ngoge.
Isaac Kimari, who has also contracted a portion at Mkulima Mfalme nursery, also does grafting.
He said that he was initially an employee in a certain farm before quitting and starting his own farm.
Kimari said he has three employees already on his portion. He adds that for five years now, he has entirely relied on grafting for survival and that it gives him a lot of profit.
“Since leaving school grafting has been my major source of survival. I started as an employee in a certain farm and later started my own. I have three employees. I have done seedlings grafting for the last five years now,” he narrated.
“Grafting gives me a lot of profit because the more I graft the more I earn. I am well networked and I get contracts for grafting season after season. In my own farm as well, I have a variety of species which I also sell between Sh200 and Sh500 depending on the species.
He says, he decided to have his own farm because he wanted to be self-employed. “I prefer self-employment to formal employment as I believe that self-employment is more profitable than the former,” said Kimari.
Benson Waweru, an employee at Mkulima Mfalme nursery, had this to say: “This nursery has helped me a lot as it is my major source of income. I have been working here for quite some time now. Maybe without this farm, I would be somewhere jobless.”
He urged other youth not to disregard any job opportunity that comes their way: “In order to be successful you have to start from somewhere without despising the job you are doing. You have to move step by step if you want to be successful. Start from anywhere and you will eventually get to where you desire to be; do not be in a hurry to make money,” advised Waweru.
By Christine Awuor and Naomi Mokeira