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Daniel Mwai,in a red cap,with his employees at his nursery tree farm at Karaini. He has different varieties of seedlings including coffee, macadamia (PHOTO BY MUGUCIA)

Money & Careers
Mwai says he quit drinking and started a tree nursery on his quarter-acre piece of land he inherited from his father.

KIRINYAGA, KENYA: At the foot of Kamuruana Hill in Kirinyaga Central Sub-County is home to Daniel Mwai who until several years ago was lost in alcohol consumption and lived a hopeless life.

The father of two has since been rehabilitated has become a positive change agent in the village and the surrounding areas.

Mwai says he quit drinking and started a tree nursery on his quarter-acre piece of land he inherited from his father.

Since 2006 when he started the tree nursery, Mwai has grown and progressed to be a force to reckon with in matters of tree and coffee seedlings.

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He says in the beginning, he started with indigenous tree seedlings but did not go far for lack of market

He said the forest department which by them was the key target market did not support him.

“Those given tenders to supply seedlings to the forest would buy at five shillings per seedling only to sell the same to the forest department at fifty shillings. This killed my spirit and eventually made me abandon planting the indigenous tree seedlings,” he said.

Mwai then ventured into planting coffee seedlings and other fruit tree variety seedlings, thanks to the training he got from Wambugu Farm in Nyeri.

He said the business picked and sold tree tomatoes seedlings at Sh100 and grafted yellow passions at Sh50 per seedlings.

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Mwai said he later expanded the nursery farm to include various verities of coffee including Ruiru 11, Batian and SL 28, all which is famous with the local farmers.

Mwai is grateful to God and the devolved system of government which he attributes to increased demand of coffee seedlings.

He says a campaign by the county government of Kirinyaga to sell coffee directly to the millers has registered a high demand for coffee seedling by individual farmers and societies in the county.

Big volume

He says at one point he sold seedlings worth half a million to farmers and coffee societies.

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“Right now I am working for an order worth Sh2.3 million, which I am able to provide,” he says.

Mwai says apart from the fruit and coffee seedlings, he also plants has other varieties of trees local farmers prefer to plant like the blue gum.

In the nursery, Mwai works with six employees including his wife Faith Wangithi who manages the farm when he is not around.

Mwai says he developed an interest in agriculture during his days at Njega Boys Secondary School where he scored a straight A in agriculture.

The trade he said was somehow affected by the ban of plastic bags by NEMA but has since sorted out the problem.

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Mwai said his market has since expanded and now sells his seedling to as far as Karatina at wholesale price to retailers who also sell and make a profit.

His success has not made him forget his friends with whom they were drinking together; some of my employees include reformed alcoholics who are now gainfully earning their daily bread.

Mwai says he has also supported others in establishing small trees nurseries adding that the demand for the seedlings is overwhelming.

He says many of the youths wishing to get started to find a challenge in the seed capital which he would wish the county government to address. Mwai future plans are to put up a big greenhouse where grafting of coffee seedlings can be undertaken to replace the small makeshift greenhouse he is using at the moment.

He says since quitting alcohol, he is now able to put all the effort in his work and has managed to put up a good house for his family besides the purchase of a vehicle which he uses at times to transport the seedlings to his clients.

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The farmers say he is ready to help the reformed youths who venture into nursery business to find market for their seedlings.

“Right now I am working for an order of 15,000 seedlings ordered by Mutira farmers’ cooperative society which I must provide in readiness for the expected long rains,” Mwai said.

He says he is able to carry out grafting of close to 800 seedlings in a day.

Kirinyaga County Tree-Seedlings Wambugu Farm

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