Kitui farmer mints millions from Watermelon

Kitui farmer mints millions from Watermelon

By Malachi Motano

Meet Suleiman Kalundu who has taken the advantage of the craze for Watermelons to grow the fruit crop in a drought-stricken Voo village in Kitui East.

“Watermelons have become an instant favorite for they are good in nutrients and are low in calories. With the growing concern among Kenyans to stay healthy,” he says.

Mr. Kalundu was initially struggling to maize and tomatoes in a small-scale. However due to erratic rainfall patterns that is common in the remote parts of Kitui County, the two crops proved nonviable.

He then opted for Water melons six years ago and confesses that it has earned him a big fortune. On his seven-acre piece of land, he spends Ksh.Sh.70, 000 on preparation, water pump fuel and buying seeds and pesticides but is able to recoup Sh.600, 000 in each of the two seasons per year.

“I sell a kilo of Watermelon between Kshs. 30 and Kshs. 40 in his farm, the prices peak during dry seasons when people buy in large amounts. Today I make over Kshs. 1 million annually. With the income I generate from watermelon production I’m able to support my family as well as educate my children. I have also bought several pieces of land to expand my venture,” Kalundu says.


Mr. Kalundu says growing Watermelons has challenges even though it is a lucrative business. He says Kitui being generally water scarce has to rely on pumped water through irrigation from scoop-wells on Thua riverbed which is adjacent to his farm.

He also notes that water melon is prone to diseases forcing him to spend heavily on pesticides. They are also prone to cracking or bursting during and after harvest due to rough handling which normally begins 75-100days after planting depending on cultivation.


“Watermelons are harvested as close to full-ripeness as possible; this is when the fruit surface touching the soil is light yellow or when the vine closest to the fruit is starting to wilt. They are perishable and should not be dropped during handling, stepped on or stacked too high. They should be handled with care. “Yield range from 20-30 tonnes per acre depending on variety and crop management practices,” added Kalundu.





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