Efforts towards achieving sustainable food diversification by Uasin Gishu County has received a major boost after 1,000 apple seedlings were planted as a pilot project at Moi University.
The project is an initiative of a prominent apple farmer from Laikipia County.
Higher Education Principal Secretary (PS), Simon Nabukwesi, who officiated during the launch of the project said the move will boost crop diversification efforts being spearheaded by the County Government of Uasin Gishu.
Most farmers in the agriculture-rich County rely on maize and wheat cultivation as their main source of income.
“For many years Uasin Gishu County and the North Rift region in general, has been branded as “Kenya’s grain basket” and yet maize farming has continued to impoverish farmers,” the PS said.
Noting that there were still large chunks of idle land in the region, the PS said it was not proper to leave big portion of land idle.
“We need to grow crops such as apples that will put money in our pocket,” he advised.
An apple farmer, James Wambugu, who hails from Laikipia County and has pioneered the project urged farmers to embrace crop diversification to boost their sources of income.
The farmer added that the apple market was favourable, adding that farmers will make millions if they opted for proper apple fruit husbandry compared to maize.
Wambugu encouraged the youth to venture into apple farming to earn a livelihood instead of sitting idle and waiting for the elusive white-collar jobs that were no longer available.
He said that he tried crafting and came up with the organic type of apple that he earlier sourced the seedling from South Africa and it only requires water and fertilizer.
Wambugu said three pieces of apples can cost as high as Sh. 500 and the apple tree has a lifespan of 100 years.
He, however, explained that apples need a lot of water compared to other fruits.
By Kiptanui Cherono