Plant Raisers supplying quality vegetable seedlings to farmers

Plant Raisers supplying quality vegetable seedlings to farmers

By Steven Mulanda

A drive off Isinya town; along Pipeline Road leads us to Plant Raisers limited. This is a company that is headed by Sanjay Malde who saw the potential in vegetable seedlings propagation and eventually quit his textile business.

As we enter the premises, he is busy with customers who throng the place to source for seedlings and information on the dos and don’ts as far as farming is concerned.

We sit pensively waiting for our turn to have a word with him. He winds up with the two clients who had pre-occupied him and warmly greets us with a smile on his face and leads us to the demo fields.

It’s unbelievable that in the middle of this arid pastoral lands in Kajiado County, there exist a farming investment of this magnitude. This is coupled with the fact that, other than the black cotton soil, the area has saline water.

‘’I began agriculture with my brother Atish Malde in May 2010 when I hired one hectare piece of land and employed four people to assist me with daily farming chores. My son Ronak Malde joined us in January 2015 and we became a formidable team,’’ he explained.

A look around at the fifteen acres piece of land there are numerous constructed greenhouses where the actual propagation of seedlings is done. He buys the seeds from certified companies and grows the seedlings in plastic trays. They do allow farmers to bring seeds for the company to propagate for them; however, most farmers rely on them for supply of the seeds.

A part from seedlings propagation, they carry out demonstration of the various varieties of seedlings that they grow as proof to visiting clients that they are productive. “It is upon the customer to choose which seeds he prefers to plant after seeing all of them growing in the demo field,’’ Sanjay averred.

In one of the demo sites, we find harvested onions which he had planted in sixty five beds and he estimates they are ten to twelve tones. He predicts a good sale going by the current market price margin and the demand in the coming months.

According to him, farmers run the risk of up to 30 percent germination rate failure when they use conventional methods of sowing seeds. Also, the seedlings transplanted may not grow well as the roots may be tampered with, while uprooting. Seeds grown using modern technology in greenhouse have a germination rate of between 90 to 95 percent and have a bigger root mass; which makes them stronger and lowers their chances of withering.

The company specializes in growing various vegetable seedlings; tomatoes, chilies, broccoli, cabbages, kales, onions, butternuts, watermelons among others. To achieve a high germination rate of the seedlings, they grow on coco peat media mixed with yard manure and their own secret formulae which ensure a uniform germination.

“Averagely we charge 5 shillings per seedling, but price actually depends with the variety one is in need of. In a week I sell over 300,000 vegetable seedlings of over 100 different varieties. We can arrange for delivery of the seedlings to farmers across the country through courier services but they pay for the delivery services,’’ Sanjay elucidated.

He offers consultancy services to people who want to venture into farming at a fee but for those buying seedlings it is free of charge.

‘’My first question to a person intending to venture into farming is: are you a ‘mobile telephone farmer’ and if the answer is yes I don’t proceed. I advise the person to concentrate on his employment,’’ he asserts.

According to him, farming is a fulltime occupation that needs full concentration. He advices farmers to first of all undertake soil analysis to ascertain the minerals in the soil, what it lacks and its PH. The farmer should have a source of water before embarking on cultivation.

He encourages farmers to begin small and not to farm big acreages of one crop. “People should cultivate several crops throughout the year in a staggering mode and they will get good returns. One should have a ready crop at all times in order to enjoy good prices and customer confidence of supply,’’ he explained.

Hard work and patience is needed to succeed in farming. The key requirements for a farmer to succeed are land, water and proper management; though he advises that having a strong foundation in agri-business is also important.

His motto ‘your success is our success’ is what motivates Mr. Sanjay. His future plans is to do bigger productions and supply more seedlings too many farmers as possible.

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