Caroline Mwangi never thought at her age she would eke out a living from farming. At 24, she would still be doing well as an accountant.
But the idea of utilizing an idle land owned by a friend who is abroad is proving to be the best idea she is yet to take since she hit 22.
With only Sh 5,000 from her savings, she bought passion seedlings after consulting a few friends who were already into this farming.
Her small capital notwithstanding, she preferred the passions because they are beautiful."Honestly, their beauty egged me on. I love harvesting them and touching them. They are clean so I do not have to worry so much about dirt," said Nyambura at her farm in Ruiru, Kiambu
She loves farming as a hobby but it’s becoming serious business for her. When she went into farming her peers thought she was crazy! She had to sacrifice a lot especially "hanging out” over the weekend to concentrate on farming. A full time assistant accountant who works from 8 am to 5pm with CPA classes to boot in the evening, she is only left with the weekend to attend to her fruits.
She has other challenges. "Diseases and water trouble me a bit. But through internet and friends she is able to get technical information to deal with them. A well his dad drilled for her has come in handy to sort the water problem. "I am liking it. I look forward to a fulfilling experience. Caroline has 300 plants and she can harvest 50kg per week selling at an average of Sh 120 per kilo.
To add value to her farming, Caroline also makes juice in her mother's kitchen. "I have no problem marketing it. Apart from word of mouth, and referrals, sites such as Mkulima Young have become very helpful," says the accountant.
She also sells the fruits, the seedlings and offers technical support to other young farmers who are interested in sweet yellow passion farming. She urges young people who shun farming because it is dirty.
"It is not dirty. The money you get there is very clean. See my hands!' she jokes.
SWEET YELLOW PASSION FRUIT
Sweet yellow passions fruits is a perennial plant which grows best at an altitude of 1,200-2,000 metres above sea level, and at a soil PH of 5.5 to 7.
If well managed sweet yellow passion fruit vine will grow to a length of over 20 meters, after the first 4-5 months of transplanting.
One acre can accommodate over 670 plants and each vine can yields 30 kg of fruit. One kilo goes for Ksh 50-80 which means that a farmer can earn 670 x 30 x 50= Ksh. 1,005,000 per acre in one year.
The vine is propagated through seed, cuttings and grafting. A seedling is ready for transplanting once the vine attains a height of 15-30 cm after 3-4 months.
Soil testing is recommended for specific soil nutrition recommendations. Otherwise the general recommendations are digging square holes of a width of 1 m and a depth of 1 meter and separating top soil from sub soil.
The top soil is thoroughly mixed with 1- 2 wheelbarrows of well-prepared manure, 125 grams a compound fertilizer and afterwards filled back to the hole. After this; the seedling is transplanted into the pre-filled hole.