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You can make decent cash from seedlings

ENTERPRISE
By Jennifer Anyango | July 17th 2021

A woman markets her seedlings near bunge la wana nchi area in Eldoret.[Peter Ochieng,Standard]

Kenya’s drive to plant trees to increase forest cover to 10 per cent is a boon for seedling farmers. And many have made a kill.

Tucked in Mukuyuni village in Makueni County, Paul Mwanza’s farm hosts Palma Mukuyuni tree nursery with more than 100,000 seedlings which include fruit seedlings, forest trees and ornamentals.  

According to Mwanza, running a successful tree nursery in Kenya is rewarding. When you learn the ropes, one can make money from the business.

He shares with Money Maker tips on how to run a successful tree seedlings business.

Select a site for beginning your nursery

Make sure the area is suitable for the purpose, zoned appropriately, and will allow for growth as your business prospers. Also make sure your site has good access to roads to give customers easy farm to access the premise.

For better results, the venue should be closer to a source of water because tree seedlings need constant watering.

Tap water is not ideal for watering the seedlings because it is chlorinated and the chemical is not friendly to trees.

One should also have a water storage tank, if possible, a generator to pump water into the tank. Access to top soil, sand and organic manure is key. Tools to have include hoes, watering cans, wheelbarrow and rakes.

Categorise your nursery

Is it a private, retail or wholesale nursery? One should also categorise the types and understand the different types of trees and their use.

“To boost your knowledge on types of trees, care and management and their uses, you can go to Google or engage experts,” said Mwanza.

Capital

Capital depends on the size of your nursery and the types of trees. Get seeds from certified seed outlets like Kenya Forest Research Institute (KEFRI) in Kabete.

Mwanza prepares the soil for use in the nursery five months before the planting time.

“I set my seed bed using fumigated or treated and seasoned soil. When the germinated plants are ready I put them in tubes. Then sorting is done, where plants are  arranged according to their types and those that need different attention are set according to their requirements,” said Mwanza.

He adds: “Raising one type of tree like avocado will require seeds good soil in tubes. Wait for three weeks for them to germinate as you irrigate. Then transfer it a good place in your nursery where temperatures are high.

Wait for  two months then the seedling is ready for sale. It costs about Sh20 to raise one seedling, then you can sell it at Sh30.”

Mwanza says a quarter acre can accommodate up to 100,000 seedlings.

Certification

A farmer who runs a retail or wholesale nursery has to get certification from the relevant bodies, like Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (Kephis) and Kenya Forest Service before starting the project.

“Work closely with Agriculture officials around your area and National Environment Management Authority. Do marketing for your trees.

If you do it well, tree nursery can earn you good money,” says Mwanza. Mwanza has orders for 20,000 seedlings for forest trees and 25,000 pawpaw seedlings. Price for seedlings range from Sh40 to Sh250, depending on the type.

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