In Summary
  • Before starting the business, they were trained on seed selection, germination, grafting, pest and disease control and maintenance after transplanting.
  • The mother of five employs eight people to run the business as she does her job at a local NGO in Kisumu town
  • One of the workers is George Oluoch, a grafting officer, who oversees seedlings production.
  • Prof Mathew Dida, of Maseno University’s Department of Agriculture, says most fruit tree seedlings suffer from fungal infections.

Some 2km from the Lela junction on the Kisumu-Busia highway sits Rose Oyoo’s seedlings and fruit farm. The one-acre farm is adjacent to River Kisian, enabling the farmer to have a constant supply of water.

Rose has partitioned the farm into two - one side is a demo farm and the other a seedlings propagation area. On the demo farm, she has 300 dwarf pawpaw trees, yellow passion fruits and a few avocado trees.

“My farm is called Green Tree Society,” says Rose. “We started six years ago, myself and six other women. It was a tree nursery venture and we each contributed Sh7,000 to start the agribusiness.”

Before starting the business, they were trained on seed selection, germination, grafting, pest and disease control and maintenance after transplanting.

“But months after starting to farm the seedlings, the group disintegrated due to marketing challenges. Everybody received back her money and we called it a day,” she recalls. However, the 44-year-old was determined to continue the business as a solo venture.

"I would sell the tree seedlings but my customers also were interested in fruit seedlings. I would buy from other farmers and sell to them," recalls the farmer.

With the business showing good potential, she moved to her current farm. Today, the farm hosts some 500,000 seedlings that include those of indigenous trees, shade trees, fruit trees, those for fencing and snake-repellent species.

COMMON FUNGAL DISEASES

The mother of five employs eight people to run the business as she does her job at a local NGO in Kisumu town.

One of the workers is George Oluoch, a grafting officer, who oversees seedlings production. "I mainly work with women who assist in grafting mangoes, passion fruits and avocado seedlings,” he says.
Eucalyptus and gravellia seedlings cost Sh10, while the cost of fruit tree seedlings ranges from Sh150 to Sh300. She sells her pawpaw fruits for at least Sh50 each.

"Our clients include small-scale farmers, NGOs and community-based organisations from Kisumu, Homa Bay, Siaya and Migori," says Rose, noting that in a good month she sells hundreds of trees.

She is certified by the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service, with the institution having assessed her farm in November 2019.

Prof Mathew Dida, of Maseno University’s Department of Agriculture, says most fruit tree seedlings suffer from fungal infections.

"Some fungal infections are spread by the wind. It is best to identify the type of fungal infection and get the relevant fungicide to deal with disease," Prof Dida says.

Common fungal diseases that affect fruit seedlings include Black rot, Rust and cavity, which can sometimes affect leaves and stem.