On the busy streets of Kisii town and its proximate, Cyrus Nyakundi can arguably be easily mistaken as a casual person. But the mention of his name in the region marvels everyone from Kisii town to the undulating lands of Mosocho where he hails from.
Nyakundi avers that he became savvy while serving Kenyans with planting materials as a young agronomist working for Nairobi based, Genetics Technologies before setting up a state of the art TC lab in Kisii that is producing millions of banana seedlings.
He is a holder of BSc in Agriculture which he attained at University of Nairobi College of Agriculture and Veterinary Sciences, Kabete Campus.
On his 2 acres piece of land, there are over 260 well attended Hass avocados trees, creating a beautiful canopy. “When I planted the Hass avocado in 2014, most people in this area were mesmerized as they could not fathom how a small sized avocado could retail in this area as they were used to the traditional avocados which are usually big sized,” he said.
Besides growing avocados, he sells grafted seedlings and also offers trainings to farmers. His tree nursery is certified by KEPHIS as well as Horticulture Crops Directorate (HCD), and with rising demand for seedlings, Nyakundi has become a sought after supplier in Kisii and its environs.
Driven by his mantra of creating economic empowerment in the region and beyond, he has caught the attention of many youth groups who are embracing Hass avocados farming. He points out of a youth group from Nyamache whom he trained and also sold avocados seedlings to them. After they had harvested their first produce, they could not sell as residents preferred their own local avocados due to their size. “When they approached me lamenting of their produce going to waste due to lack of market, I introduced them to Kakuzi who bought their produce at 86/= per kilogram for KSH 4.3Million. In addition, Kakuzi contracted them to be supplying avocados for them,” he happily averred.
“Hass avocados are easy to maintain compared to our locally grown avocados. They do not grow to higher heights hence enabling easy harvesting. If you compare with our local varieties, which grows to un- imaginable height, when harvesting a farmer has to shake the tree for the fruits to fall, thus shaking off flowers which would have formed into fruits as well as when fruits fall they are injured thus incurring post-harvest loses,” he elucidated.
In his trainings, he advices farmers who plant avocados to do it in an orchard as they are easily manageable; in fertilizer application, control of pests and diseases is faster than when they have been inter cropped with other crops.
With proper care and management, Nyakundi opines that a single Hass avocado tree yields 700kg per season. “Most people in this area have been planting eucalyptus trees for selling; they grow for 10 to 15 years and eventually sell them at Ksh 4,500. When a farmer plants Hass avocado with which takes 3 years to begin fruiting, if a farmer sells at Ksh 86, the earnings are enormous compared to eucalyptus. Farmers need to plant many hass avocado trees to be able to capture big buyers such as Kakuzi as well as the export market,” he advised.
He points out that from his 8 years Agri-business journey, he has managed to educate his siblings as well as himself, bought pieces of land all accumulating to 14 acres and to sum it all, he has been able to set up an over 40 million tissue culture banana facility.