In Summary
  • Gooseberries are regarded as wild fruits
  • SunBerry Berry Enterprise has, however, turned the fruits into a cash cow, growing the crop on 20 acres in Tigoni, Kiambu.
  • Seedlings are then planted in a spacing of a metre from one plant to the other.

Gooseberries are regarded as wild fruits. They are believed to grow on their own in bushy areas or in the forest.

They belong to the same family as tomatoes and when fully ripe, their colours range from orange to red, and the fruits have tiny seeds tucked in the flesh.

In Kenya, a majority of people in villages pick the fruits, also known as Cape gooseberries, from forests.

SunBerry Berry Enterprise has, however, turned the fruits into a cash cow, growing the crop on 20 acres in Tigoni, Kiambu.

The fruits not only earn them lucrative income, but have also offered them a unique agribusiness.

“We currently have 20 acres under gooseberries that we are harvesting, and we are preparing another land to sow,” says Steven Mwanzia, the chief operations officer.

Journey into gooseberry farming

Other officials of the farm are Esther and Gerry McCarthy, the chief executive and business adviser respectively, as well as Kevin Billing, a Swede, who is the technical adviser.

Esther is Kenyan and is the wife of Gerry from Ireland who has been living in the country for about 25 years.

Their journey into gooseberry farming began in 2016 after realising the fruit is rarely grown in Kenya. Mwanzia, who is a fruit agronomist, says they began with four acres, with the four partners putting into the project Sh2 million.

“The start wasn’t that smooth bearing in mind that the majority of Kenyans believe the fruits are wild. Penetrating the market was hectic, but we worked hard to convince people of the health benefits of the fruits,” explains, Gerry.

According to Mwanzia, gooseberries are among the easiest fruits to grow. The land should be well-prepared and holes dug to a depth of 1.5ft depth and 1.5ft wide and manure placed inside.

Seedlings are then planted in a spacing of a metre from one plant to the other.

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