There are very few farmers who grow tree tomatoes as a commercial venture in Kenya yet there is a ready market. But unlike other fruits, tree tomatoes are easy to grow.
Grafting tree tomato with an indigenous tree known as Muthakwa in Kikuyu (bug weed) makes it more resistant to the dry conditions. Muthakwa-grafted tree tomatoes bear fruits all-year round with a single tree producing between 50kg and 85kg in six months. The fruits are picked after every two weeks and can survive for 10 years
One good thing about this crop is that once you plant a few seedlings you do not have to care of them everyday which means you can set-up a farm somewhere near your current place of work and monitor it remotely as a side hustle.
The most interesting bit of it is that you can get started with your meare savings and make as much as Ksh133,000 per month out of a small chunk of land.
Not all tree tomato seedlings are good. Some take too long to grow and their fruits are bitter and unsightly. So at this point you need to look for high quality seedlings that are grafted with muthakwa tree. A good breed is the red otaria family that only takes 8 months to mature. The reason the red otaria type is popular is because 97% of it is edible and it has no seeds inside.
For tree tomato seedlings contact John on 0790-509684, deliveries are done countrywide. An acre of land will require 1,200 seedlings amounting to Ksh120,000. Remember, you can always start small e.g. on 1/8th acre which requires 300 seedlings and thus a smaller budget of Ksh30,000.
But Is There Market?
Market for high quality fruits is always available. In fact by the time your first crop matures you will start to receive calls from potential buyers. But other than that, you can recruit a few young unemployed people to be retailing the fruits in shopping centers and bus stops near your place.
Alternatively, you can transport them all the way down to Githurai 45 market in Kiambu County or Wakulima Market in Nairobi County…or even Kongowea Market in Mombasa. And if you have connections with supermarkets, you can package your product nicely and deliver them to the shelves.
Farmers Trend and Oxfarm Organic also buys from farmers.
How Much To Invest
For a small farm like the 1/8 acre one you will require about Ksh40,000 to get started. However, because we always believe in thinking big, we shall give you estimates for an acre of land for purposes of planning.
-Leasing Land: Ksh15,000
-Farm Labour: Ksh20,000
-Manure and DAP:Ksh20,000
-Water Tank etc: Ksh20,000
-Insecticides etc: Ksh5,000
1 Acre Total Budget: Ksh190,000
How much To Expect
Of course, the bigger the land, the better the returns. On average a single tree produces 20Kilograms of fruit per year (harvested once a week). So using the 1 acre farm as an example and assuming only 1000 out of 1200 trees mature then we can set our realistic expectations on a minimum of Ksh1,600,000 revenue.
1000 trees x 20 Kgs x 80 (Price per Kilo) = Ksh1,600,000 per year. (Or Ksh 133,000 per month)
Remember, this is a very minimalistic approach and you can even make more money if you are really serious about it. For instance the price per kilo currently varies at between Ksh100 and Ksh150. Also, the likelihood of losing 200 trees is very low.
- Finding good land
- Many farmers might want to do this and hence flood the market and prices may go down (But for now prices are very stable)
- The fruits have to be watered at least once per week during the dry season
How many investment opportunities in this world allow you to inject Ksh190,000 to reap Ksh1,600,000 per year? Well, very few. That is why the idea of planting matunda ya damu is a timely one. You can start small today and build onto to bigger things. If you do it so well, you can ditch your current occupation and focus on more potential revenue streams such as selling seedlings and value addition e.g. producing tree tomato juice. What a lucrative business idea!