Earning good money through Banana Farming

Earning good money through Banana Farming

By Steven Mulanda

In Kutus town, Kirinyaga County we meet Sidney Njau who has found a fortune in tissue culture banana farming. He has a strong attachment to his ancestral village of Kiamiciri, thanks to its tranquil weather and fertile soils that are favorable for banana production throughout the year.

Depending on a pay slip which wasn’t meeting half of his needs is what drove him to farming. Njau worked as a radiographer in Nairobi, but after attending a forum whose theme was ‘utilizing what one has to fulfill what he does not have’, his eye opened and he quit employment to go and re-organize his land. “My parents used to cultivate indigenous bananas but I had heard of tissue culture bananas (TCB) farming from my acquaintances.

I attended Nairobi agricultural show to learn more about TCB before rolling out my plan,” Njau narrates. Before he delved into tissue culture banana farming, he tried his luck in French beans and tomatoes but the sensitive high level attention the crops needed as well as losses incurred discouraged him.

In his farm, are over 450 neatly tended tissue culture bananas which are harvested every week. He began banana farming as a trial but they exceeded his expectations. The popular commercial Tissue Culture Banana (TCB) comprises of varieties such as Williams, GrandNain, Giant and Dwarf Cavendish, and Chinese Cavendish among others.

He has specialized in growing Williams and GrandNain varieties. Njau prefers selling his bananas at Nairobi than at Kutus and Kagio local markets since the price in Nairobi is more encouraging. For  instance, he sells a kilo of bananas for Ksh 20 in Nairobi while in the local market it goes for as low as Ksh 10. A fully matured TCB weighs between 60kgs to 80kgs.

He has employed two permanent employees and several casuals who assist him with daily farm operations. “The secret of succeeding in tissue culture banana farming is manure and water. I use DAP at the beginning when planting the plantlets. I dig big holes before planting the plants to act as water retention reservoirs for the plants.

“I use manure on my crops which ensures I continue providing healthy foodstuff to Kenyans in line with the president’s big 4 agenda on food security,” he said.

To enable him have sufficient compost manure, Njau has bought several cows. The cows have aided him in cutting short the expenses of manure. For instance, a tipper of manure in Kutus retails at Ksh7, 500.

“My fortunes have changed tremendously. I did my calculation and realized I am able to earn an extra coin compared to what I used to earn with French beans and tomatoes. The same can be said of the expenses, in fact, the sales I made from my first harvest were able to give me a reasonable profit as well as I was able to recoup the investments I had pumped into the farm. My ultimate plan is to increase the area under which I am farming bananas,” Njau added.

With the uncertainties of the Kenyan market, the farmer is on the verge of diversifying to other crops in addition to banana farming to ensure he is in business all the time.

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