For engaging in several farming ventures that have yielded little success, a Nandi farmer has earned himself the nickname, Gambler Farmer. But Mr Richard Tuwei, from Ngenyilel Village in Mosop Sub-County, is not perturbed.
His enthusiasm and passion have kept him going and now, while most other farmers in his area are growing maize and wheat, and keeping dairy animals, which is what the region is renowned for, the father of three has switched his attention to the avocado, becoming a model farmer of sorts!
“People from my village believe that I like jumping into projects, but I have finally found my passion,” he says about his four-acre avocado farm.
Mr Tuwei grows the grafted Hass and Fuerte avocado varieties. He has 575 avocado trees with 350 aged 14 months and 150 two months old.
Interestingly, his trees mature very fast. Avocados normally take three years before they start fruiting, but some of Mr Tuwei’s 14-month-old trees are already doing so.
The knee-high lush-green trees neatly growing in straight lines stretch as far as the eye can see and are a sight to behold.
Clad in a blue and white striped T-shirt and matching trousers, the farmer moves from one avocado tree to the next, scouting for pests on the leaves and the tiny fruits.
“I give my avocado trees a lot of care while young, with the right manure and water application and they in turn fruit faster, compared to those that are rain-fed,” he says.
“I constantly prune the fruits since the trees do not have the base to support them yet. The strength behind this is water management,” he says.
He harvests up to 750,000 litres of rainwater, which is enough to sustain the farm for one year.
The cup-and-saucer model for growing avocado trees.
Mr Tuwei practises what he calls ‘the cup-and-saucer model’ in growing the trees. In this model, explains Mr Tuwei, the cup, which is the inner circle of the plant located at the bottom of the tree, carries water.
The saucer is a one-foot-deep trench around the tree within which organic manure is applied and acts as a source of food.
“The inner bowl (the cup) is for ‘drinking’, while the outer one (saucer) is for ‘eating’.
When we irrigate the trees, the inner circle holds the water while the outer circle is for manure, which also helps to retain moisture and prevents leaching,” he explains humorously.
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