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Robert Muriithi: Embu Farmer Making Ksh 50,000 Per Week From Bountiful Pawpaw Harvests

In the semi-arid Ciangera area of Embu County, Kenya, a remarkable transformation has taken place over the past decade.

What was once a dry, barren 12-acre piece of land has been turned into a thriving farm that boasts an eye-catching garden of pawpaws, mangoes, and oranges.

This remarkable story of agricultural success belongs to Robert Muriithi.

Here is his story as told by WOK

Muriithi’s journey into farming began in 2012 when he acquired the land.

With a vision and determination, he embarked on the challenging task of converting this unproductive piece of earth into a profitable venture.

Little did he know that this land would become the foundation for his future success.

One of the key factors in Muriithi’s success is his utilization of irrigation farming.

Water is the lifeblood of any agricultural endeavor, and Muriithi recognized this early on.

Fortunately, he is a beneficiary of the Green Paradise Community Water project, which provides irrigation water to 750 households in the region.

With the help of this project and donated pipes from the Upper Tana Natural Resources Management Project, water from the all-seasons River Thuci is channeled downstream to farms like Muriithi’s, spanning an impressive 11 kilometers.

Muriithi’s pawpaw plantation is a sight to behold, with 1,000 pawpaw fruits of vega F1 and red royale varieties.

His success with pawpaws alone earns him approximately Sh50,000 every week.

This income has allowed him to achieve significant milestones in his life, including the purchase of additional land, providing his children with education, and constructing a decent house, among other developments.

Muriithi’s journey into farming stretches back almost three decades, to a time when he had just cleared high school.

Back then, he started with a mere Sh1,000 loan from a relative and a small plot of land given to him by his parents.

“I would draw water from a 100ft well and haul with my hands on two jerricans up to the farm. It was an energy sapping toil, but you have to start somewhere,” vividly recalled.

As he continued to toil and save, Muriithi joined a local savings group, commonly known as a chama, where he managed to accumulate Sh20,000.

With this sum, he invested in a water pump, a crucial tool that eased his farming efforts.

Over the years, Muriithi experimented with various crops, including maize, watermelons, capsicum, tomatoes, butternuts, and long chili.

“Eventually, I settled for pawpaw, mangoes, and oranges. They do not require a lot of farm inputs. This means the cost of production is lower. Moreover, they do not suffer from price fluctuations,” he recalled.

He explains that the cost of production for an acre of pawpaws, which accommodates 600 trees, is approximately Sh100,000.

It takes around seven months for the pawpaw trees to start producing, with each tree capable of yielding up to 30 kilograms of pawpaw.

While these trees can potentially produce fruit for up to four years, the intense sunlight in the region shortens their lifespan to about two years in Muriithi’s case.

Despite his remarkable achievements, Muriithi faces some significant challenges in his farming journey.

One of the most persistent issues is the infestation of mealy bugs and spider mites, common pests that have plagued farms in the Mt. Kenya region, including Muriithi’s orchard.

These pests threaten his pawpaw crop, with spider mites causing yellowing and recurring even after spraying, and mealy bugs damaging the fruit by sucking its juice.

Another challenge that Muriithi grapples with, despite being situated near a river, is water shortage, particularly during dry spells. Water scarcity can significantly impact farm production, underlining the importance of efficient irrigation systems like the one provided by the Green Paradise Community Water project.

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