Kiambu has always been known to be a farmers’ hub with crops such as coffee, tea and diverse vegetables and fruits.
However, to improve crop yields, many farmers in the area have embraced grafting, which entails fusing two types of trees or crops together. The “scion” is the upper part of the tree while the rootstock provides the roots.
To satisfy the demand for grafted seedlings, James Karanja Kimani took a step to fill the gap. He is now a grafted seedling supplier not only in Kiambu, but in several parts of Kenya.
Kimani explains that fruit seed grafting is a horticultural technique whereby; tissues of plants are joined so as to continue their growth together. Though many types of fruits can be grafted, he focuses more on mangoes and avocadoes.
He began this business in 2020 after losing a job in an NGO after it was forced to close shop.
However, for him, this turned out to be a blessing in disguise as he is not only making good cash out of this project, but it has also given him a sense of independence.
“I learnt this skill from a friend and in 2020 when I lost my job at an NGO which closed shop and left the country after the Covid-19 pandemic, I delved into it full time,” he said.
According to Kimani, good seed grafting also requires some skills in order to do the job perfectly.
For instance, one must have the ability to select a good quality scion and the stock which are compatible with each other. Besides, cutting the scion and joining it with the stock is also a skill that needs to be grasped.
“The skill needed may be simple but necessary; besides the passion in crops and grafting, one needs to be a keen observer and have the ability to master good quality plants as well as how to do it,” Kimani told City Biz.
Kimani’s customers are spread across Kiambu and other parts of the country.
With demand for grafted fruit seedlings rising by the day due to high quality and yield, Kimani’s fortunes in the business of supplying grafted seedlings have been rising day by day.
“So far, I can’t complain, the journey has been so successful,” revealed Karanja, adding “I have been able to record a boom in this business from customers who range from individuals to corporates”.
While Karanja gets many of his customers from referrals, the online platforms also play a great role in exposing his trade to potential clients. In particular, he actively showcases his products and engages customers on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok.
In a good month, Karanja makes a cool Sh100,000. However, the amount could be higher depending on several factors such as the weather, among others.
The price of grafted seedling ranges from Sh100 to Sh1,000 depending on the variety. Karanja urges the youth to be proactive and find something which they can create value out of.
“I urge the youth to venture into this business and at the end of the day, they will have something to help them put food on the table,” he says.