The Government Officer Who Retired Early To Establish A Booming Pawpaw Farming Business

Neatly arranged pawpaw trees with almost ripe fruits line the farm in Mbeu, Tigania West, Meru County.

Festus Mutiga’s is an epic example of how pawpaw farming should be done. His farm stands out since it is clean and the trees are heavy with fruits.
commercial pawpaw farming in kenya
Pawpaw Farming in Kenya
“I am yet to harvest this week,” Mutiga says as he walks from one tree to another looking at how the fruits are doing.

The trees are two metres apart and they have grown about five metres tall. Each of them has produced over 30 fruits, a clear indication that Mutiga is set for a bumper harvest.
“I am excited. All the trees have produced several fruits, which is a sign that they are doing well.”

Mutiga abandoned watermelon, tomato and butternut farming in October last year to venture into pawpaw after being introduced to the fruit by agricultural extension officers from Meru Greens Horticulture (MGH).

The company has partnered with the USAid-funded Kenya Horticultural Competitiveness Programme to promote the pawpaw and others fruits.


To me the company was a godsend. About that time, watermelons were giving me Sh25,000 after three months, thus, I wanted to try something else,” says the farmer, who retired early as a policeman in 1981 to try business. He later embraced farming, growing melons and butternuts.
“I used the money that I got from selling melons to buy pawpaw seedlings, which I planted on one-acre,” recounts Mutiga, who bought the seedlings of the Mountain and SP varieties from MGH and signed a contract with the company to buy his produce.

The farmer planted the seedlings, watered them using water from a stream that crosses his farm and harvested for the first time in August this year.

“My first harvest was 384kg. It fetched me about Sh20,000.”
 Since then, he has been harvesting an average of 300kg of fruits weekly.

He sells the fruits to MGH, a high-end market supplier, earning over Sh15,000 every week.
The company buys a kilo of grade one fruits at Sh50 and Sh45 for grade two. Each tree produces a kilo of the fruits.

“In the next few months, I will be fetching more than Sh20,000 a month. I want to increase the stems to 3,000 by cultivating the remaining two acres.” His day involves watering the trees, pruning the old and diseased leaves as well as checking out fruits that are ready for harvesting.

Scars that develop on fruits lower the quality, thus Mutiga scouts for diseases regularly on his farm. “Mites and blight are the biggest enemies of pawpaw. I apply pesticides to kill mites and I prune the trees constantly to prevent blight,” says the member of Kiburine Fruit Growers Association, through which he learned of MGH.

He receives fertiliser and other inputs from MGH, which he pays from his earnings.
His other challenge is the high cost of pumping water from the stream to his farm during the dry season. Ayub Mutangili, an agronomist with MGH, says a farmer like Mutiga can make up to Sh50,000 a week from one acre when the trees reach peak production in three years, whereby each tree can produce over a kilo a week.


The agronomist notes that with good agricultural practices, a farmer can harvest continuously with yields increasing for three years when the tree reaches optimum production.

“We buy from farmers on a weekly basis to supply the local market. Most of our farmers are in Tharaka Nithi, Meru and Machakos counties. We are currently supplying six tonnes of fruits a week against a demand of 10 tonnes,” Mutangili says.
He adds that farmers have not been able to meet the demand due to challenges relating to husbandry.

Pawpaw does well in warm climate as it provides the best environment for flowering and fruit setting. The farmer should plant at a spacing of 2 by 2 metres apart for optimum production and apply potassium fertiliser for improved sweetness and rich colour.

MGH supplies most of the fruits it buys from farmers to major retail outlets in the country, including Uchumi and Nakumatt. Mutiga says the fruit has the potential to replace miraa in Meru due to its high returns.

pawpaw farming guide pdf
Pawpaw farming guide
Other than mountain pawpaw, the Solo Sunrise seems to be liked by most upcoming farmers. This variety is shorter growing up to about 2 metres but with a high productivity. The fruits of Solo Sunrise are also sweeter and firm hence giving it a long shelf-life and an edge in the export market. For more information, seeds and seedlings of solo sunrise you can call Richfarm Kenya on 0724698357.

There is also this simple but comprehensive guide on pawpaw farming that will help you with the necessary basics of growing the crop successfully. You can now request for it from our Resources Page

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