NYERI, Kenya, Dec 4 – When sixty five years old Peter Wambugu uprooted his entire coffee crop in his farm at Ihwa village in Tetu in 1985, many of his contemparies thought he was out of his mind for doing away with the “The Black Gold “of central region.
Wambugu had been farming on hundreds of acres in Laikipia County. That year, he harvested over three thousand kilograms of coffee but to his surprise when, he went to collect his payment at his local factory he was informed he had a debt rather than any earning.
“I went to collect my earnings and was informed that I could not even get a cent after working in my farm for over an year, i immediately made a decision to cut all my coffee bushes and move to a different kind of farming and that I how i settled into apple farming” said Wambugu.
Unkown to many, the father of four was entered a league of his own when he opted for apple farming which has earned him accolades all over the world for it’s unique taste.
How it started
Wambugu says that while walking in the Aberdare forest, he found a apple growing wildly and uprooted some of them which he transferred to his farm and to his utter surprise he had a bumper harvest.
“After my first harvest I realised I had hit a jackpot and since then I have developed three varities of apple which have been approved by Kenya plant health inspectorate authority. I am currently selling my produce and seedling locally and even to places such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, ” said Wambugu.
Wambugu’s son, 36-year-old Samuel Kago is also following in his father’s footsteps and is also engaging in apple farming.
According to Kago, they sell their produce at a cost of between Sh80 and Sh100 per fruit.
“While growing up I realised my father was able to pay school fees using this fruit so despite having graduated with a diploma I decided to venture into it’s farming and since then I have no regrets, ” said Kago.
Kago says that due to the fruit’s unique taste, many of their clients come for their produce and seedlings at either of their farms in Ihwa in Nyeri or in Laikipia.
According to statistics from the Ministry of Agricuture, Kenya imports tonnes of apples for consumption in the country each year especially from South Africa where their is commercial farming of the fruit.
However Wambugu says that the fruit from South Africa has shorter shelf live unlike his which can last for many days whithout being chilled.