Enterprise

Teacher earns extra coin growing tree tomatoes

teacher

Peter Mwangi at his farm in Nyeri County. PHOTO | POOL

Summary

  • In order to enable the crops to thrive, the farmer says weeding and top dressing are key management practices.
  • He harvests the crop every two weeks.
  • Mr Mwangi says he sells his produce locally, at prices ranging between Sh80 and Sh100, depending on supply and demand forces.

Peter Mwangi is a teacher of biology and agriculture. When he is not in class, especially during this Covid-19 era, he practices what he teaches his students. He grows tree tomatoes in his home in Narumoru, Nyeri County.

He ventured into tree tomatoes farming in May, last year and he is optimistic that his venture will thrive, banking on his hands-on experience.

“I had a challenge that I was facing on a venture I had started on kienyeji poultry. I was rearing using worms, the water I was applying on a mixture of manure and sawdust was not being economically used. So I thought of planting a quick growing fruit tree so that I could re-introduce the chicken within a short time. That’s how I came up with this plant,” reveals the agriculture teacher.

Mr Mwangi, 47, says with manure, sawdust in place which was to make worms and termites for chicken to feed on, he spent Sh5,000 to buy 100 seedlings, plus Sh1,000 for digging the holes and Sh400 which he spent in purchasing D.A.P fertiliser.

The farmer started with 1/8 acres of land, and he is yet to expand the acreage in a quest to increase yields.

“A colleague (teacher) from a neighbouring school prepares seedlings of the vegetable so I visited the school and I bought some from him,” says the farmer, who bought each seedling at Sh50.

Mr Mwangi, who grows a variety known as Rothamus variety, used D.A.P fertilisers while he was planting his seedlings.

“On my altitude, it has taken one year to get the first harvest. For this farm I have dug a well which is the main source of water,” says the father of three.

In order to enable the crops to thrive, the farmer says weeding and top dressing are key management practices. In addition, scouting and controlling of pests and diseases, supporting the plants at fruiting stage to avoid branches breaking off, watering to ensure constant moisture and avoiding flooding, are also also vital.

“Aphids and early blight is a big challenge in this side of the country,” reveals the farmer, who harvests the crop every two weeks.

Mr Mwangi says he sells his produce locally, at prices ranging between Sh80 and Sh100, depending on supply and demand forces.

“We sell locally because the market is ready, no much challenge for now on marketing,” says the farmer, who uses online platforms to sell his produce.

“There is need to understand the weather in your area because the fruit is sensitive to cold or too much heat, also be patient before you start harvesting,” advises the farmer, who also keeps chicken and pigs, and grows summer flowers.

When asked about the amount he makes from the fruits, Mwangi had this to say: “Let’s do some math here: for 1/8 acre - 100kgsx100x2=Sh20,000 per month, then for one acre 20,000x8=160,000 per month.