Strawberry Farming: I earn money I couldn’t have earned from maize farming

Some years ago, David Muraya, a farmer in Elburgon, Nakuru County, was comfortably growing maize, but as costs of inputs rose and market prices remained low, he switched to strawberry after reading about the crop on the internet.

“I started in 2019 by preparing my eighth-acre farm and bought suckers from a local farmer spending Sh100,000 during the exercise.” He planted the suckers in polythene bags because they prevent the plant from being affected by pests and makes weeding easy.

Inside each bag, he planted either one or two suckers, depending on the size.

“For good production, I fenced off the farm to keep predators at bay. The crop must be watered regularly in the morning and evening for at least a month,” he explains. Today, Muraya is a seasoned strawberry farmer.

He notes that the crop matures three to four months if they are fed well with enough water and manure. “If the crop is not treated or fed well with organic manure, some berries become small. But the manuring should be done with moderation because excess manure and watering affects them.”

One sucker produces some 20 berries if proper feeding is done, says Muraya, adding that strawberries can live for between four to five years before one can replace them.

The farmer harvests his strawberries three times per week, getting an average of 70 punnets and sells them in Nakuru and Elburgon town at Sh100 each earning at least Sh28,000 a month. According to him, strawberries can sustain one’s livelihood due to higher yields and better prices. Strawberries are consumed raw or fresh and can be used to make jams, jellies and desserts. They are rich in Vitamin C and help boost immunity.

Molo ward agricultural officer, Earnest Githinji, asks farmers to use shade nets or plant strawberries in greenhouses to prevent birds from attacking the berries. The pests to look out for are slugs, which attack ripe berries. These can be curbed by avoiding overwatering.

“When it comes to diseases, strawberries are affected by grey mold that thrives during the rainy season causing soft rot. To prevent the disease, we urge farmers to minimise watering,” says Githinji, adding that pruning the crop is also encouraged.

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