In the Makueni lands, rainfall is hardly seen, and lands are generally arid, with caked soils and few crops on the farms.
However, Justus Kimeu has succeeded in his six-acre farm and planted over 750 pixie orange trees. Many would be asking, what is the secret to his breakthrough?
Despite the parched nature of the lands, Kimeu has honed the skill of making the most out of the scanty rainfall. He has adopted soil moisture conservation techniques to cultivate his fruits.
“I use a technique that ensures the soils remain moist and healthier throughout the year,” he says.
This technique? On his farm, Kimeu has created numerous planting basins, which he’s filled with organic fertilizer.
The manure retains the scarce water that the region receives hence minimizing water resource wastage. The manure aids in retaining soil moisture.
As per Justus Kimeu, the pits are excavated about a month prior to the onset of rains. These pits have a depth of 30cm and a width of 15cm.
They are then loaded with natural compost manure and covered with topsoil to prevent direct exposure to sunlight.
“From one basin to another, there is a spacing of 75cm, while from one line of the basins to another, there is 90cm space. This spacing keeps the manure well-distributed on the farm to trap sufficient moisture,” Kimeu stated.
Kimeu has become a prosperous farmer in the region thanks to the technique he employs. Apart from the pixie oranges, his farm has 700 drought-tolerant grafted orange trees.
One kilogram of Pixie oranges costs around Sh. 100. A kilogram is about seven fruits. In Nairobi groceries, 1 pixie fruit retails at Sh. 30.
“A single well-tendered pixie orange tree with the right soil conditions matures in 18 months and can produce up to 300 kilos in a season, which translates to up to Sh. 30,000,” he adds.
Justus Kimeu is also the Chairman of Makueni Conservation Farmers, a community-based organisation for farmers in the region.