Not much is known about dragon fruit farming in Kenya despite its huge returns after the final harvest.
Anthony Kinoti is making millions from dragon fruits which he grows organically, giving the fruits the essential nutrients.
In this article WoK digs deeper into Kinoti’s venture, the benefits of dragon fruit farming and its handsome returns.
Interest in dragon fruit farming
In an interview with Utmost Precision, Kinoti noted that he was always fascinated with how Asian people had a long lifespan-were healthy and looked young.
The farmer posed this question to his friend, a Chinese, who pointed out fruits, dragon fruit specifically, as the secret.
He did more research on the same and got into dragon fruit farming in 2014 after discovering it’s health benefits.
“The dragon fruit story goes back to 2014. However, before then, I had been asking myself, ‘why are Asians or South American people long-lived and are always looking young’. I wanted to know what it is that they consume,” Kinoti explained.
While going about his research about the fruit, he realized that nothing goes to waste be it leaves, stems, roots and even the peelings.
“I asked myself, ‘if it grows in other continents, why can’t it grow in our part of the world’. That is where my journey with dragon fruit began
“I picked seeds from a dragon fruit I was given by this friend of mine, grew them in a nursery, took care of them and overtime I was able to get varieties from different parts of the world,” Kinoti explained.
Dragon fruit farming
Kinoti encouraged farmers to try dragon fruit farming since it requires little maintenance compared to other crops.
“It requires very little water, it also requires very little maintenance, it occupies little space and it can be grown on marginal areas
“The requirements of dragon fruits are not as much as those of other crops. You will only need to ise manure and trimming up the posts,” he explained.
He also noted that the fruit is not perishable and it has a medium to long shelf life, making it unique from other fruits:
“It is not perishable, it stops ripening once you take it off the vines. We have been able to keep unrefrigerated fruits for about 18 days and unlike other fruits, the dragon fruit doesn’t oxidize,” Kinoti stated.
Dragon fruits retail at between Ksh 1000 and Ksh 2,500 per kg, and go for as much as Ksh 950 per fruit.
A farmer can make approximately Ksh 2.5 million from a one acre piece of land which has 450 poles, with each pole producing at least 10 kgs.
“We are encouraging entrepreneurs to diversify their activities in agribusiness and also start farming dragon fruit because of its fast returns and its health benefits,” Kinoti added.