It has a light-yellow to light-green skin, with purple strips. When ripe, its flesh is golden yellow with a cucumber or melon-like texture.
The Pepino melon, a mildly flavoured fruit that tastes like a mix of banana and pear, has lately been attracting a lot of interest due to its high nutritional value.
The sweetly aromatic fruit that is entirely edible is a good diuretic that has lots of Vitamins A, C, K and B, proteins, plus iron and copper that are essential for a healthy immune system, calcium for bones, and potassium for relaxing and lowering blood pressure.
But nutritional value is not the only thing drawing farmers to this fruit that has no relationship with melons. Demand for Pepino is also bringing in handsome returns for farmers.
Mr Kariuki Kiarie of Mugumo Village in Nyandarua County is one of the farmers beginning to enjoy those returns. He only started planting this fruit last year, but is already singing its praises.
“I got four plants from a friend I met at a farmers’ training workshop last year. I had heard about the fruit, but did not give it a second thought until that day,” says Mr Kiarie. By January, he had increased the number of plants on his 30 by 30 foot piece of land, earning between Ksh20,000 and Ksh50,000 a month.
The earnings were enough motivation for him to double the land under the fruit. “I learned some very useful lessons from the four plants. I can confidently say that I am now a professional Pepino melon farmer,” he says. The farmer says that with adequate watering, the plant can produce fruits for up to four years.
Today, he has about 500 Pepino plants on less than a quarter of an acre, each producing five to six fruits every month. Mr Kariuki’s fruits are bigger and juicier, which he attributes to organic farming and his homemade folia fertiliser. Step Boost is a folia feed fertiliser he prepares on his farm using goat, chicken and cow manure mixed with some herbs to boost nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium nutrients.
The farmer, who previously worked for agrochemical companies, says “it’s a matter of understanding what a particular crop requires at what stage in life for maximum
READ FULL STORY INSIDE ISSUE 37 OF SMART FARMER MAGAZINE