How to practice flower farming
It’s ten o’clock in Gatugura village, Kirinyaga County, and the chilly weather does not deter Joseph Gitari, who walks cautiously through his two-acre farm not to damage the blooming Arabicum variety of flowers.
“Most farmers in this region grow tea and coffee but I have stuck to flowers. It pays wells and has a ready market,” the 57-year-old father of three, explains. “Farming flower requires little capital, the flowers are resistant to pests and diseases, are tolerant to various soil conditions and to make things better for this region water is now readily available.
“I have planted flowers in an eighth of an acre. The flowers are propagated from bulbs that are planted directly in the soil once they break dormancy and are ready for harvest after 3 months. Once the flowers are mature, I harvest them and keep them under a shade awaiting transportation. Harvesting is continuous for up to two months after which I cure the bulbs for-replanting,” Gitari explains.
A stem normally sells for a range of Sh5 and Sh20. Agronomists explain that in an acre the maximum benefits a farmer can expect is Sh850,000 with a production cost of Sh200,000. For farmers in Kirinyaga who farm on small pieces of land like a quarter piece due to land shortage, they can expect a gross sale of Sh200,000 with a production cost of Sh50,000 per a four-month season.
Gitari is not the only farmer in Gatugura village who has embraced both flower farming and horticulture farming as John Kaara a 54-year-old father of three is also practicing flower farming. Kaara was enticed into flower farming by the myriad benefits he found other farmers in the region enjoys.
Kaara says that the short maturing duration of 3 months after planting and the fact that he could continuously harvest his produce for close to two months, lured him to farming flowers.
“Flower farming also saved me the much expense I used to incur when I was farming coffee with little benefit. I now earn on average sh30,000 a month,” he says.
Justin Mugo, the group chair Njuku Mutige Irrigation Scheme explains that farmers need to first consider factors such as the market, proper timing, water supply, capital, and labour before embarking on flower farming.
Though Mugo is quick to explain that the flowers thrive well in deep well-drained soils and in cool climates, he also says that agronomists recommend slightly raised seedbed as to allow good drainage. Their peak season is between December and April which he urges farmers to take advantage of.
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