By Prudence Minayo
Dragon Fruit was a novelty in Kenya until recently. The fruit sold in the local market is mainly imported from South America and this is what inspired Dr Monica Waiganjo to venture into Dragon fruit farming.
This is what inspired Dr Monica to found Sun Green Harvest after retiring from Kenya Agricultural Livestock Research Organisation, a company that propagates and sells dragon fruit cuttings.
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The fruit has recently gained a lot of attention in Kenya. Farmers like it because it is profitable and consumers love the health benefits. According to Monica, farmers can make upto Ksh2 million from one acre of land, in two harvesting seasons.
In most retail outlets, a kilogram of the fruits costs between Ksh1000 to Ksh3000. The fruits are free of fats, and high in fiber and antioxidants. They are also touted for being great probiotics, helping in lowering down blood pressure and can be used for value addition to make juices, wines and jams.
Sungreen propagates and sells dragon fruit cuttings. They also offer advisory services to farmers wishing to get into dragon fruit farming. The most popular way of growing dragon fruits is through cuttings. A stem of cutting measures about 50 inches and costs Ksh500. For an acre of land, a farmer needs Ksh800,000.
According to Dr. Waiganjo while it is expensive to grow the crops, the benefits outweigh the costs. She said that once a farmer buys the cuttings one time, they don’t have to buy again. They can make their own cuttings from the initial plants.
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The plants begin producing fruits after six to eight months. After a year, it starts giving maximum fruits. A farmer can then expect to continue harvesting for fifty years. In her view, the cost of the fruits are expected to drop once more people begin growing them. She said the crops can grow in different parts of the country as they are tolerant to different conditions and can grow even in deserts.
“Dragon fruit is drought tolerant and it is not soil specific, considering that our soils are mostly acidic, these fruits can withstand that condition making it ideal to grow in most parts of the country,” she said.
Before retiring, Monica worked at the Kenya Agricultural Livestock Research Organization.
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