Pineapples add flavour to farmer’s life

Kericho, Kenya: After high school, Solomon Kemboi, could not join college immediately because he had to allow his other siblings a chance to finish their studies. The wait proved too long and he got married along the way. From then on, life took a different turn.

“I had a small family to provide for and I had to get a source of income. My parents allocated to me a section of the family land where I started growing maize and beans among other crops,” Kemboi who hails from Ng’oina village, Kericho County tells Smart Harvest.

For sometime, things were fine and he was able to feed his young family. But after some years, the income from the one acre piece was not sufficient as his family had grown.

To survive, he had to explore other options.

“We already had two kids and life was becoming tough with each passing day. I decided to give pineapples a try,” he says.

Kemboi got the first suckers from his in-laws who had been farming the pineapples for some time. He says his father-in-law offered him 6,000 suckers to start off. In 2013, he planted the suckers in three quarters of an acre.

After a few months, the suckers had established well and Kemboi began reaping the rewards. Though he started as a desperate move to survive, he was shocked at the success.

From the beginning of 2014, Kemboi says he has been picking 600 to 700 fruits every two weeks that he sells for between Sh30 and Sh40 earning an average of Sh45,000 every month.

He makes Sh40,000 every month after deducting the cost of production and this gives him close to half a million every year.

He has a regular buyer who picks the fruits from his farm every two weeks.

Kemboi’s venture has stirred his neighbourhood and more people are getting interested in the crop. He has been selling suckers at Sh5 to many people who are slowly establishing their own fields.

Other than pineapples, he also keeps four friesian cows that produce an average of 15 litres each daily. Besides supplementing his income, the cows also give him enough manure that he adds to his pineapple field.

Thanks to his pineapples, Kemboi is back in school and is a second year Business Management student at Kabianga University. He is also able to educate his two children and fend for his family.

“Things have changed from the time I got my first harvest and I know it is a worthy venture,” he says proudly. His future plans are to buy a vehicle to help him transport the produce to the market and to lease a piece of land to grow more pineapples.