Speed Pro Smart Farms; savoring juicy seedling propagation returns

Speed Pro Smart Farms; savoring juicy seedling propagation returns

Every profitable crop farming venture begins with healthy seedlings. For most farmers, seed germination is often one of the most frustrating phase. Sometimes, the germination rate is lower, and some of those that germinate may turn out too weak to actualize a farmers dreams of profitable farming. It is upon this realization that Peter Muema the proprietor of SpeedPro Smart Farms, having worked with farmers for close to one and a half decade and discovering that there is shortage of reliable and good seedlings joined the bandwagon by providing farmers with highest quality of fast growing and high yielding seedlings.

Muema is carrying out his farming enterprises at AIC, Kasina area in Machakos County. Speed Pro Smart Farms have perfected the science of seedlings germination and propagation, and to get the things right the first time. In addition, they employ a lean team of highly experienced professionals. In this way, they ensures their seedlings are affordable to farmers across Kenya. They take pride in being able to exceed customer expectations by surpassing quality and time

“As a farm we have endured to be producing above 2 million seedlings every month. This translates to 50,000 seeds being sowed every day. In seedling business, for a propagator to be able to make a financial sense one has to move huge quantities and also establish a rapport with many farmers. Most of the seedlings we sell range between Ksh 2 to Ksh 5 depending on the variety. The economy of scales here shows our profit is minimal between Ksh 1 and Ksh 2 and this explains why we have to make huge volumes and sell all of them for us to be in business,” Muema elucidated.
It is easier and makes economical sense for farmers engaging in farming practices to source for ready seedlings than rising for themselves. First it saves on farming time, for instance, most farmers are operating on leased lands which a normal lease elapses after one year and raising seedlings by the farmers takes one month meaning a farmer is likely to be behind the planting schedule. Secondly, soils are prone to soil borne diseases. By propagating your own seedlings probability of the seedlings being attacked on the first day of germination are very high and transferring the disease to the actual planting site is very high.

Initially after setting up shop, most farmers he encountered never embraced the idea of buying ready seedlings for planting because they thought they were expensive but with advancement of time they have embraced the idea.

“SpeedPro Smart Farms propagates all manner of crops ranging from herbs, fruits and vegetables which include; Sukuma Wiki, cabbage, Chives, Chayote, Courgette, Cucumber, Beetroot, Borage, Broccoli, Green capsicum, Rosemary, Lettuce among others. It normally takes four weeks for tomato, cabbage, broccoli, kales and spinach seedlings to be ready for transplanting. Onions take about five weeks while hot and sweet chilies take seven weeks,” he opined.

They have two models of work. The first model is where the farmer places the seed order, the company buys the certified seeds from the seed companies, propagates them and the farmer collects later when the seedlings are ready. This normally takes 4 to 6 weeks depending on the crop. The advantage of this model is that there is enough time for proper planning and land preparation. The second model is where the farmer walks in and buys ready seedlings. The company has over time been able to select crops that perform well in certain regions and in different climatic conditions. They also use their knowledge and experience to predict which seedlings farmers will need at any one time. The advantage of the second model is that there are timely planting and zero wastage. Farmers are also able to get an assortment of varieties of seedlings. This also helps the farmer achieve good market timing.

The company grows its seedlings in coco peat. Coco peat medium is made from the pith inside a coconut husk. It is naturally anti-fungal, making it an excellent choice to start seed. It is also used in manufacturing of rugs, ropes, brushes and as stuffing. Coco peat is also used as a soil amendment, potting mix, and in hydroponic production. “After severally purchasing from local producers, we just asked ourselves why don’t we import the same, process it by removing the salts in it because its electro charge is too high. With time, most of our clients began inquiring about it and we saw a business opportunity where we are now selling it to our customers with a kilogram retailing at Ksh 60. Besides, we have improved our coco peat by adding vermiculate which is a carbon which increases permeability and ability of water to percolate through it. Professional seed propagators invest heavily in the business. They invest in seed planting trays, planting material, greenhouses, watering systems, water sources and other machines to raise quality seedlings for their market. They also have to make sure that they plant high-quality seeds in the market for their clients to get maximum returns. They liaise with seed supplying companies since they are regular customers to give feedback on complaints and possible areas of improvement something that can be a challenge to a small scale farmer,” Muema said.

The future of the company is to increase their seedling portfolio from 2million to 5million while targeting more farmers across the East African Region.

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