Young and Wealthy From Banana Farming
Meet Patrick Kigen, 28, a degree holder in information and communication technology who found wealth in farming banana as a side hustle. The man who says his mother Jane Tuigong greatly inspired him, makes so much from growing FHIA 17, Grand naine and Williams varieties in his quarter-acre piece of land.
“I used to enjoy eating sweet bananas harvested directly from the farm planted by my mother. This motivated me to start growing them when I grew up,” says Kigen.
Banana plantation follows several steps. Preparation of the land is key, one has to dig 1.5 to 2 feet deep holes so that he can start the plantation process.
“The plants should be three meters apart. To get healthy plants, one should put well decomposed 2kg manure in each hole and mix properly with the subsoil. One then puts in the seedlings and covers leaving space for watering,” he offers.
For the plant to be able to conserve moisture and maintain soil fertility, Patrick has to mulch the plant using leaves. This also plays a crucial role in helping the plant from pests and diseases.
Pests highly harm banana like snails, fusarium wilt which is a fungal disease, and other bacterial infections and hence the need for him to spray the crop regularly.
“Banana farming is not easy in its formative stages since the crop is affected by viruses that cause diseases such as banana streak and one can lose the entire crop if not careful.”
The bananas start fruiting from nine months. Patrick harvests at least ten bunches of bananas weekly, selling each at 800 or lower depending on the size. This sees him take home an approximately Sh5,000 to Sh10,000 every week after selling the produce at the local market.
Generally, banana farming in Kenya has increased over the years as many people have started appreciating the need for fruits in their diets. The emphasis on proper nutrition and healthy lifestyles have contributed to this change.
Commercial banana farming in Kenya is the direction that most farmers with the ability and resources have chosen to take.
The markets are guaranteed, and the fact that the crop is fast maturing has been a great motivation. However, like all other crops, it is essential to do this right from the beginning.
Some of the varieties grown in Kenya include Apple, Gross Michel, Kampala, Dwarf Cavendish, Uganda Green, Giant Cavendish, Williams, Grand Nain, Valery, Poyo, Paz, muraru, Kiganda and Sukari. These are some of the varieties that a new farmer willing to invest in this business can consider trying on their soil.
However, it is good to note that for one to be able to make the best returns out of business, then doing a continuous soil analysis is critical.
This is because bananas take many years on the farm and it is through soil testing that one can establish the presence of diseases such as nematodes and this will ensure healthy growth.
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