Strawberry is a fruit of love and love being a good thing, the fruit should bring you good money every season.
At least that is what Jaick Agricultural Produce (JAP) Limited - company owned by 4 youthful entrepreneurs, believes in as it works with tens of strawberry farmers across Kenya, offering them guaranteed market for the fruit.
Benson Maina, who works with the company, says strawberry is a crop of interest because it has ready market in and out of Kenya.
“We engage farmers in contract farming to bring in quantities required by the market. We mainly buy the Chandler F1 variety,” he says.
To join the Nairobi-based firm, one should be farming the crop on at least quarter-acre, which is economical for a profitable venture.
“Quarter-acre will hold some 6,000 plants and each offers 20g of fruits every week making it a kilo per year,” he explains.
He noted that a Chandler seedling goes for Sh30, with the firm preferring the variety because it is less susceptible to diseases, vigorous, high-yielding and produces very desirable fruits.
Maina observed that any farmer working with them must agree to follow what it takes to grow strawberries as they recommend.
“One needs to visit our offices, discuss the investment with us then we shall visit their farm and certify the site. Thereafter, we do the contract to bind farmer to sale to us and the company to guarantee market.”
The company is currently working with over 50 independent farmers and more than 10 farmers’ groups.
“Since it is contract farming, we provide training and agronomic support, walking with you from planting to harvesting and marketing,” he says.
The firm sells some of the fruits to homes where they do deliveries, to supermarkets, add value and export to Middle East and Europe. Maina offers farmers the following five tips on successful strawberry agribusiness.
• Don’t put your money in the soil because your neighbour has successfully done it.
• Get the right information on the crop before getting into the business.
• Make it a habit to follow every bit of advice given by the agronomist.
• Regularly visit your farm and take care or attend to each and every plant scouting for pests or disease attack.
• Use of chemicals should always remain the last option, employ integrated pest management.
According to him, farmers should take advantage of online marketing, which has a wider reach.
“Online marketing is the way to go in case one is not contracted because it helps the farmer cut off brokers. Platforms like Mkulima Young offer best forums not only to sell but also buy. Get photos of products and call for buyers, it is as easy as that,” he offers, adding that Online marketing is the next big thing.
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