The Wambugu Apple  Making Headlines Worldwide

The Wambugu Apple Making Headlines Worldwide

There is a variety of apples that has gotten everyone buzzing. KARLO-Thika has nicknamed it the Wambugu Apple after Mr. Peter Wambugu who pioneered the planting of the rare variety. It all started in 1985 when he went into the Aberdare forest and found apples growing wildly in a section of the forest.
The story goes that during the struggle for independence, a white settler had planted apples and did not want them to fall into the hands of the locals, and thus he was uprooting the trees and destroying them. The local freedom fighters got wind of this and decided to raid the farm and took seedlings which they returned with into the forest and planted them there for safekeeping.
After independence, it was forgotten that there were apples planted in the forest and in 1985, Mr. Wambugu stumbled upon them. He had gotten an order to supply apples to a local hotel, he was struggling to meet the order and he was informed that there are wild apples just rotting in the forest. He picked them and supplied the order and the hotel loved them so much. The orders increased and he deiced to transplant them into his farm in Nyeri. He then grafted then with the regular hybrid varieties and the Wambugu Apple was born.

There has been a lot of interest in the apples since and this has made him a sensation in the media and farming circles. The excitement has even reached the Trans Nzoia Governor Patrick Khaemba who sent his Chief Officer in the Agriculture department, Mr. Robert Musikoyo to investigate the phenomenon and even bought a few seedlings to introduce in the county. There has also been interest from as far as the Israeli Embassy, Australia and farmers from Egypt buying seedlings. They have even sent seedlings to Nigeria, Malawi, Botswana and Malaysia.
The Wambugu Apple tree can survive for more than 80 years and is farmed on a purely organic basis. They use Aloe Vera and Mexican marigold to repel pests. This has piqued the interest of organic food lovers in Karen, Nairobi who purchase the apples on order. They are delivered there weekly and are depleted on arrival. The apple is even being tested on its viability to make bio fuels.
Mr. Wambugu is the founder of Eden farm which is situated in Ngobit, South Imenti in Laikipia County. His first farm is a small farm near Nyeri town. He has since roped in his children into the business given the bumper profits that have put them through school. One of the sons, Martin Ndirangu was a warehouse keeper in Nairobi for 9 years before he quit and decided to go join his brother Sammy kiogo in the cultivation of the apples. They now have 7 acres under the Wambugu Apple.
The apple tree starts fruiting from 8 months to one year. Each tree produces 2000 fruits and can be harvested over a period of 4 months. Some trees can produce throughout the year if properly fed. They flower and they have fruits throughout. They sell a kilo of the apples at Kshs. 400 and a piece Kshs. 50, while its seedling is sold for Kshs. 1000. The trees are 6 ft tall at 3 years and an acre can take 610 trees when planted at a spacing of 4ft by 4ft.
The fact that it is grown organically means that the apple has a longer shelf life compared to its hybrid counterparts. It takes 3 days for the hybrid apple to wither and rot while the Wambugu apple can stay for 9 days.
In their farm they have also planted a number of pomegranates fruits. Around the apple trees they have planted cabbages, kales, pepino melons, and brown lentils that are good in fixing nitrogen. They have introduced a new type of peach and passion banana into their farm. These fruits are believed to have cancer healing components. The peaches are very sweet; each can weigh as heavy as 250 grams, a kilogram goes for Kshs. 2500 and its seedling for Kshs. 10,000. Going forward, the family wants to buy more land and expand the acreage under apples.

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