Grace Karanja is a large scale avocado farmer and the director of Karakuta Farm majoring in fresh agri-produce.
Karanja ventured into avocado farming in 2020, following the footsteps of her late dad, after quitting employment.
In an interview on Utmost Precision, the farmer disclosed that she has planted 20,000 trees of the Hass Avocado variety.
Here is Karanja’s story as told by WoK.
Karanja explained that she gained interest in farming while she was a little kid since her parents were involved in coffee farming.
They later changed to fruits farming; washington oranges and apple mangoes, a venture that she said it saw her through school.
“I grew up in a farm where we initially grew coffee and my dad changed to Washington oranges and apple mangoes. During that period, I saw out income as a family transition from low to very good income
“When I got an opportunity after a long period of being employed, I thought it was time to come out and do my own thing; something that I know and understand,” she said.
On venturing into avocado farming, Karanja explained that she wanted to bank on something that she understood well.
The farmer also cited lack of much work as a contributing factor to her involvement in avocado farming.
“…because I understood the business very well and it has no much hustle. Once you have a well established orchard, you start earning your revenues without much hustle,” she said.
Starting off was not easy, Karanja recalled an instance where she lost over 2,000 seedlings in one night to antelopes.
They had planted the seedlings in an unfenced land near an area where it was prone to wild animals.
“We didn’t know that avocados are loved by antelopes, the farm is near a river so the antelopes came and ate all the seedlings
“When the antelopes bite the seedlings while they are young, apparently their saliva are poisonous to the tree,” she explained.
Karanja’s farm has a total of 20,000 tress although at different stages; five year old, three year old and six months old.
“The reason why we thought of going large scale is because when we went to the market in Berlin, the buyers noted that fruits from Kenya are very good, however, the quality and the consistency is a big challenge
“For us we want to create a brand name and make sure that the fruits that come from Karakuta is known in the market. For us to achieve that we need quantity and the we can build on quality,” she added.
Karanja also noted that as a company, they work closely with women groups and offer training to residents living around the farm.
“We work a lot with the neighbors and especially the women. We give them seedlings in groups because we want them to earn a living
“This orchard is open for training because it is one of the largest in this area you find a lot of people coming here to learn,” she said.
The company has also invested in small-scale farming of herbs which are sold weekly and the funds used to run operations of the orchard.
“We have diversified into herbs. The herbs we do are sent to the same market where we send the fruits. Funds from these herbs are used to do the operational work such as buying fertilizers and all that kind of work,” Karanja stated.