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I never knew seed farming is this rewarding

I never knew seed farming is this rewarding

Paul Njiru at his Kamiu Horticultural Nurseries in Embu County. PHOTO | COURTESY

Paul Njiru, 36, runs a 26 acre farm, with an estimated 120,000 seedlings of various fruit plants and trees.”I ventured into seedlings farming seven years ago in small scale, we are still growing…,” says the farmer who owns Kamiu Horticultural Nurseries in Embu County. He has seedlings ranging from mangoes, oranges, tangerines, macadamia, lemon, apples, Hass avocados, grafted passion fruits, guavas, tree tomatoes and grapes. The farm also has an assortment of tree seedlings, among them eucalyptus.His passion to raise seedlings, he says, started when he was young.”I ventured into seedlings farming and propagation out of passion. When I was young, I could place seeds of passion fruits on the ground where they could germinate,” says the father of two who is also a pastor.Later, after he started farming, he realised how huge the potential of seed raising is.”When we began, we thought it was just a small initiative, but we came to understand that we were filling a huge gap that was there between the farmers and the buyers of the fruits,” reveals Mr Njiru, who works closely with Cyrus Kariuki, who heads production department at the farm.He says he started off with a capital of less than Sh20,000, which has now grown into millions of shillings.

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Mango seedlings go for Sh120 each, whereas oranges are sold for Sh150. Macadamia seedlings are worth Sh250 each, while lemons go for Sh100 each. Tree tomato Sh100, grape Sh300, apple Sh400, Hass avocado Sh150, grafted passion fruit Sh60, tissue culture banana Sh150, and eucalyptus Sh50.The farmer has built a long list of customers. “Our clients include small scale farmers, big companies, NGOs, community-based organisations and county governments,” says the Bible School graduate.He adds that they get majority of the seeds from the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (Kalro) and from certified farmers.Mr Njiru reveals that recently he turned down a white collar job offer to focus on his farming.”Seedlings farming is a good and well paying for people who can be patient at the beginning. The fruits of being a nursery operator come as you continue perfecting your trade,” the farmer says.Mr Njiru adds that they have trained a big team of youths who do grafting at the farm.”They (youth) are on salary. This farm has created employment for the youth,” he says, adding that they have more than 20 workers.Though they obtain water for the farm from a nearby permanent river, they have also drilled a borehole to ensure there is always water even during dry spells.One of the challenges he has faced is the sale of substandard seedlings by some nurseries, which has adversely affected agribusiness.He advises farmers to ensure they get the right quality for optimum production.The farmer says that he has not experienced many pests and diseases attacking seedlings in the farm “as the nurseries for our seedlings are well prepared and seeds well sorted before propagation.”He also grows a variety of bananas — those for cooking, ripening and the dual purpose bananas.He says in a bad year, he can make a net profit of about Sh450,000.He encourages those who would like to venture into seedlings farming to do so saying it is a profitable venture.”I’m available for training. I can be reached through my Facebook page PST Paul Njiru, and can give a helping hand and the mentorship they need to succeed,” he says.He plans to establish nurseries in all the 47 counties countrywide.

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