Farmer abandons maize and turns her land into fruit basket
Posted Monday, July 30 2012 at 17:22
Viola Rogony borrowed the idea of growing pineapples at her farm in Ziwa, Uasin Gishu, from her sister, who has six acres in Chepkoiyo, Nandi County, where she plants the fruit.
Initially, her friends and relatives feared that Ms Rogony’s venture would fail. After all, they were used to planting maize and wheat in the region known as the country’s bread basket. But she was determined to try the idea since she had witnessed the success that her sister had enjoyed.
She started her pineapple farm in 2009 with 1,500 suckers that she bought from her sister at Sh20, each.
This was her capital as she did the rest of the work with the assistance of family members to cut production costs. Her sister would have given her the suckers but she wanted Mrs Rogony to appreciate that agriculture is a business.
Three years down the line, Mrs Rogony’s business venture is growing big. She has started realising the fruits of her persistence.
In less than two year, she started harvesting the crop and the market was overwhelming. She sells the pineapples at between Sh30 and Sh50 each, depending on the size.
Some customers go to her farm to buy from there and at the same time learn about the economic activity.
The demand was high and she has had to increase acreage to meet it.
“I will keep extending the size under the crop since I am generating my own suckers from the pineapples on the farm,” she said.
Mrs Rogony, who also cultivates maize, wheat, sunflowers, and a variety of vegetables further sells the suckers to farmers who have also seen the value of thinking beyond just maize and wheat.
She says production costs associated with pineapple -growing are less compared to maize and wheat.
The fruit also provides a good opportunity for a farmer to enrich the soil by inter-cropping with beans, groundnuts and vegetables.
With the unpredictable weather patterns, diversifying to other crops, she points out, is a decision any serious farmer won’t have regrets taking.
She says that pineapples are rarely affected by pests and diseases when grown under the right conditions and this has cut her spending on the crop considerably, leaving her with time to concentrate on the other crops.
“Besides applying fertilisers to maximise yields, one is required to spray the crop to enlarge and sweeten the fruits,” she said.