Enterprise

Why pineapple growing is such a juicy venture

wilson

Wilson Baya in his pineapples farm in Magarini, Kilifi County. PHOTO | POOL

Summary

  • He started with only five acres, but this has grown tremendously to 48 acres. And he is not done yet, he tells Enterprise, as he plans to increase the acreage to 86, due to the good returns he banks.

Wilson Baya has been steadily but surely growing his agribusiness since 2012 in Viriko, Magarini sub-county, Kilifi County.

He started with only five acres, but this has grown tremendously to 48 acres. And he is not done yet, he tells Enterprise, as he plans to increase the acreage to 86, due to the good returns he banks.

“Initially, I used to work as a land broker, and one day during a field tour, I saw pineapples in some farms, and developed interest,” Mr Baya says.

“I used to grow tomatoes, maize, bananas, but when I realised that pineapples are more profitable, I began growing them immediately.”

After realising the huge potential of the crop he gradually bought more land.

He spent Sh48,000 to buy 8,000 suckers for the five acres, that he planted in August, 2012.

“In June, 2013, I put another 10 acres under cultivation after making good earning from the produce. I cut suckers from the initial crops, and planted them, making a total of 15 acres,” says the farmer.

From the first five acres, says the farmer, he earned Sh400,000 from each acre, after selling a single piece of pineapple at Sh50. This translated to a cool Sh2 million. The decent earnings motivated him further to increase the acreage.

“From 15 acres, I added another 10 acres in 2014, making a total of 25 acres,” he says, adding that, currently, he has around 48 acres of pineapples.

He says he can’t tell precisely the variety he is planting because he does not buy seedlings from agrovets.

“Since we don’t buy the seeds from agrovets, I can’t tell you the variety we grow, but locally, we call it mwanazi,” says the farmer, adding that his crop has also been dubbed Magarini sweet pineapple.

In total, he boasts of about 384,000 pineapple plants in his 48-acre farm.

Luckily, he says his costs are not high. This is because he doesn’t apply fertilisers, neither does he spray with pesticides. He doesn’t also irrigate his crops as the pineapples are resistant to drought, and rain is just enough.

The soil in the region is very good for pineapple growing, he says.

The crop, Mr Baya adds, is not labour intensive.

“We only uproot weeds twice a year, after the rains have fallen,” says the father of two.

Market

Since starting the venture, he notes, he has not encountered major challenges, apart from insects, such as millipedes, which sometimes, make holes on ripe pineapples.

The market is also readily available for him.

“I have never experienced any market challenges. When I take the produce to the market, I sell all of them. Customers also come and pick them from the farm,” says the 35-year-old farmer.

“I don’t have any stress getting clients. Buyers come to the farm with their vehicles and harvest them. My employees count the pineapples, and I only wait to count the money.”

His customers come from Malindi, Kongowea in Mombasa, Kilifi, and the local folks.

Apart from selling ripe pineapples, the farmer also sells suckers at Sh10 each. Just before the interview with Enterprise, he had just sold 30,000 suckers, raking in Sh300,000 in a single day.

Mr Baya has five workers - one permanent and the rest are on temporary terms.

From the proceeds, Mr Baya has bought a new tractor worth Sh2.4 million, which he uses to dig other people’s farms for a fee, making extra coins. “I thank God I live a decent life.”

The farmer says that Covid-19 has not spared him as the market is depressed. He is, however, optimistic that the situation will soon change for the better.

“Corona will be over, and the markets will continue to expand. When Del Monte visited us at the farms, they wanted to buy at Sh30 each, but according to me, the price is too low,” says the farmer, adding that some clients have already booked the produce in the farm, and even paid him deposit.

Apart from pineapples, he also grows other crops such as maize, watermelons, bananas, collard greens, among others, in various farms.