Fredrick Kinyanjui grows tissue culture bananas, grafted custard apple (matomoko), mangoes and Hass avocados. To maximise space, Kinyanjui intercrops trees with fruits
What goes through your mind when you see a truck driver? Irresponsible people who spend a lot of their time away from their family? Fredrick Kinyanjui, who worked as a driver for 20 years, has been working hard to proof the notion wrong.
After his O levels at Igikiro Secondary School in Murang’a County, he did not go further because he could not afford college fees.
To earn a living, he started banana farming on a piece of land inherited from his father at Kamahuha village, Murang’a County.
“My father was a farmer and I joined him to learn a few skills. I wanted to one day be a role model to children from poor background,” he says.
After a year in 1986, he got employed as a truck driver until 2006 because he wanted to spend more time with his family and on his farm.
“My wife was a teacher, consequently she had less time to attend to my farm,” says the father of three.
In 2003, he came across a group known as Africa Harvest, which was training farmers on a tissue culture in banana farming.
Without hesitation, Kinyanjui decided to try his luck.
Armed with Sh4,500, he bought 45 seedlings of tissue culture banana at a cost of Sh100 each.
Since he was still working in and out of Kenya, he left his wife in charge.
After three years, he quit his job to take care of his bananas and later included fruit farming in his venture.
“During that period, I attended several farming training and I was able to gain enough knowledge.
I also managed to know which fruits were on high demand and the best way to grow them,” says the 50-year-old farmer.
His strategy Currently, he grows tissue culture bananas, grafted custard apple (matomoko), mangoes and Hass avocados on his Kiha Farm.
He has 10 avocado trees and each season he gets Sh60,000 from the fruits. He plants bananas in between avocado trees.
He harvests between 1,300kg and 1,500kg of bananas after every 21 days depending with the season.
He sells his produce in conjunction with a group known as ‘Kamahuha Bananas’ and a one-kilogramme goes for Sh15. In total, he earns between Sh19,500 to Sh22,500 from bananas.
He says that like any venture, the start was not easy as people thought his bananas were genetically modified, so marketing was difficult.
However, Kinyanjui says he took his message to different forums until he made a breakthrough.
He explains that tissue culture is different from genetic modification plants as the latter deals with the manipulation of genes to get better results.
“This technology has come at a time when we need it most.
Farmers should embrace it. It has advantages over the existing suckers that are prone to diseases. Consequently, the government should intervene and help farmers reduce cost of seeds and distribution,” he says.
He also has 50 custard apple trees that give him 8,000kg every season and every kilo goes for Sh50.
The farmer also has 100 mango trees and every season, he gets between Sh80,000 to Sh100,000.
Apart from selling fruits he also sells custard apple and Hass avocado seedlings.
“Every season I earn about Sh400,000 from custard apple and a season goes for seven months.
The fruit is on high demand because it contains anti-oxidants such as Vitamin C, which helps to fight free radicals in our body.
It is also high in potassium and magnesium that protects our heart from cardiac disease and it also controls our blood pressure.
Furthermore it contains Vitamin A, which keeps your skin and hair healthy,” he says.
He is planning to expand his acreage to six to satisfy market demand. He has a ready market for his produce and he urges young people to embrace farming.