John Mutwiri’s story is a remarkable tale of resilience, determination, and agricultural success.
Hailing from Meru County in Kenya, this 39-year-old farmer has defied all odds to become one of the most prosperous strawberry cultivators in an area predominantly known for other crops like tea, coffee, and bananas.
What makes Mutwiri’s journey even more inspiring is that he achieved this success despite having limited formal education and dropping out of primary school.
Mutwiri’s foray into strawberry farming was driven by his recognition of the fruit’s potential for high productivity, low input costs, and, most importantly, lucrative market prices.
With a modest capital of Sh10,000, he took the bold step of venturing into strawberry cultivation. His one-acre piece of land in Kooje Village, Imenti North, became the canvas for his agricultural dreams.
Key to Mutwiri’s success story is a local yogurt-making company that serves as his primary client. Additionally, he supplies his bountiful strawberry harvest to juice vendors in Meru town.
Each day, Mutwiri meticulously harvests an impressive 30 kilograms of strawberries, translating to a daily income of approximately Sh12,000.
His journey to prosperity in strawberry farming underscores the importance of several key factors, including securing a reliable market, conducting soil tests, and adopting professional farming practices.
One crucial aspect Mutwiri emphasizes is the regular replacement of strawberry plants to maintain consistent yields.
While strawberry plants can endure for about four years on the farm, their productivity begins to wane after the first or second year. Consequently, annual plant replacement is essential to sustain quality and yields.
In terms of cultivation, Mutwiri underscores the significance of precise watering, particularly at the roots. Any moisture left on the leaves can encourage the growth of fungi and other diseases that can adversely affect the crop.
Interestingly, Mutwiri notes that many buyers prefer strawberries grown in open fields over those cultivated in greenhouses due to their superior productivity and taste.
He cautions that strawberries are highly perishable and require constant monitoring after flowering. Without this vigilance, a significant portion of the fruits can go to waste on the farm. To maintain the fruit’s quality, strawberries must be harvested daily.