By Steven Mulanda
As the saying goes; friendships are born in a million different ways, and all good friends strive to achieve the same goal; support and inspire one to greatness. This is the story of Wambugu Farm pomegranate farming where a friend from Israel while visiting the farm in Ngobit; Laikipia region shared with them the idea of growing the fruit.
The next time he visited, he came along with a pomegranate fruit and a pomegranate seedling for them to add to their fruits farming portfolio. Upon tasting the fruit and discovering how sweet it was and the many health benefits associated with it, they planted it. The one seedling today has metamorphosized to over 400 plants growing wonderfully on their farm and other farms where they have sold seedlings.
“As a farm, we planted our first pomegranate plant in 2017. We have been able to graft and re-produce seedlings which we planted in 2018 on this farm, spacing them at 10ft between each other giving them enough room to be able to expand,” Sammy Kago explained.
The pomegranate fruit journey to the market is traced back to while they were supplying apples. They supplied the fruit to apple clients and the demand for the fruit rose as more clients made orders. Their interest grew more when they discovered the fruits retail handsomely in the market with a single fruit going for Ksh 500 and a kilo selling at Ksh 700. A kilo has only six fruits but can be five fruits depending on the size of the fruits.
Besides cultivating pamogranates, they have specialized in grafting various fruits seedlings which they sell and also offer trainings to prospective farmers on good crop husbandry at a fee. They have lowered the price for the pamogranates seedlings to encourage more farmers to plant them. Initially they used to sell a seedling at Ksh 2,500 but lowered it Ksh 1,000.
They intend to build a resort where guests will be coming to see, eat, sleep and learn everything about fruit farming. “When we sell our seedlings to our clients, we want them to be able to take care of the plant in a professional manner in their farms and also to be our good ambassadors. At the entry of this farm, you can clearly see we have a banner with a slogan ‘one fruit a day keeps the doctor away’, thus it is our mantra” Kago joyfully narrated.
It is believed that the fruit contains ingredients that are good in detoxifying the body and also are capable of fighting cells that divide abnormally and spread uncontrollably into body tissues leading to the killer disease cancer. This has led for a scramble of the fruit by a healthy conscious people who are eager to keep this killer disease at bay and avoid incurring heavy medical expenses in treating it.
Wambugu Farm is well known for production of Wambugu Apples where the founder of the farm Mr. Peter Wambugu pioneered the planting of the rare variety in Kenya. He roped in his two sons Sammy Kago and Martin Ndirangu who have now become experts in fruit farming.
They have mastered the art of growing the fruits too well such that exactly after one year of transplanting the pamogranate seedling it start flowering and producing fruits. At the moment, they are supplying a half a tonne of the fruits fortnightly to the market, with Karen Organic Market being their regular market.
In the spirit of diversifying, they have introduced peach, pepino, cactus prickly pear and cactus opuntia. This, Sammy opines has enabled them to utilize their land well.
While researching through the internet, Kago states that he came across Cactus Opuntia benefits and he discovered that it can be used to produce juice which has many health benefits. The idea of incorporating Opuntia was brought about by Italians missionaries who were visiting Laikipia region. “After listening what the missionaries were saying about the crop, we requested them if they could bring us some seedlings when coming back and they obliged,” he said.
Their fruit farming escapade, has seen them make visits to Israel to learn more about fruit farming as well as discover other fruits.
“At the moment we have an order from Holland which we are striving to meet. The prices they have given us for a single fruit is very attractive and we are hoping we will manage to supply. There also other clients who exports to South Africa. They have given us an order that if we will be able to meet they will be purchasing from us,” Kago said.