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Nyandarua Farmers embrace strawberry farming

Farmers in Nyandarua County have been urged to adopt strawberry farming as a way to increase their income and meet the growing demand for the nutritious fruit.

Mr Thiong`o Mathenge, an Agronomist based in Nyahururu town, encouraged the farmers to plant the crop since the climate around Nyandarua County was suitable for its growth.

“Strawberries can grow in almost every part of our county provided there is constant water supply and stable temperature in the range of 10 – 30 degrees Celsius.

“For a beginner, 1/8 of an acre is enough to venture into strawberry farming as one requires 3000 seedlings. Each seedling goes for Sh 10.  Additionally, those in urban settings can still plant the seedlings in containers and place them in their backyards,” said Mathenge.

Loise Mumbi, a farmer at Kieni village in Kaimbaga ward, said that she ventured into strawberry farming less than a year ago and has been making profits from the strawberry sales. She said that the local market has a high demand for the fruit.

Mumbi supplies the fruits to fruit vendors, supermarkets, hotels and retailers. She said that she gets a lot of orders and is sometimes unable to meet her market’s demand.

“I have been farming Chandelier strawberries since last year and the sales so far are great. I have not encountered any losses. Instead, my customers place orders that sometimes I fail to supply their demand. My main customers are bakers, hotels and supermarkets in neighbouring Ol Kalou and Nyahururu towns,” she said.

She also noted that together with other farmers around her village, they are now selling their produce to Ol Joroorok Food Sacco which exports the fruits to Switzerland.

Speaking to Hannah Wambui, a strawberry farmer who is Mumbi’s neighbor, she said that she ventured into strawberry farming as it takes a shorter period to mature and produce the fruits.

“Strawberries take around 70 days to produce the first fruit although the bumper harvest is expected on the 6th month. Each plant produces around 25 grams per week which sums up to roughly 80kgs weekly,” said Wambui.

She however regretted that the strawberries were being attacked by pests- caterpillars, aphids and fungi of which they were using rabbit’s urine to counter.

Wambui urged other farmers to adopt strawberry farming as the produce has already existing market which the current farmers have not managed to satisfy.

“I would encourage farmers to adopt strawberry farming since there is a high demand for the fruit as people are quickly warming up to the idea of incorporating strawberries in their diets after realizing the fruits’ nutritional value,” said Wambui.

By Malika Margret and Kennedy Muchori

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