by Ejidiah Wangui
NAIRIOBI (Xinhua) -- In 2012, Douglas
Kimemia resigned from his teaching profession in Kenya’s eastern
county of Kitui following persistent knee pains.
his 200,000 shillings (about 2,000 U.S. dollars) final dues,
Kimemia ventured into citrus farming.
Having been born and brought up in the region, he knew too
well he could either fail or succeed as this is a semi-arid
region where many crops do not fare well.
With the little experience he had with figures as a
mathematics teacher, he made his projections and settled on
citrus trees which, despite the fact that they could take longer
than other crops to start yielding, they would earn him much
more for longer but only if he did right.
Seven years since venturing into farming, Kimemia has built
an empire where even research institutions troop in for lessons.
His biggest secret has been grafting his seedlings for a
His journey has been replete with lessons.
There were times he felt like he was groping in the dark as
not many people were growing fruits in his locality.
His biggest challenge came in three years after when he
harvested his first fruits.
He had a bumper harvest but nowhere to sell, he also didn’t
have a proper storage facility.
"I harvested more than I had anticipated.
"I could sometimes give out the fruits to my neighbors to
feed on their animals," said Kimemia.
His story reinforces that of many other Kenyan farmers who
have little capacity and knowledge to store or market their
produce after harvesting.
In 2017, things changed for Kimemia - he received a charcoal
cooler from the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and
Technology, a research institution that prides itself in coming
up with low cost innovations for small scale farmers.
The charcoal cooler lifted off the storage weight off
Now, instead of selling his fruits at low prices after
harvesting, he is able to store them longer and sell when prices
"From selling a kilogram of citrus at 0.19 dollars, I can now
sell the same quantity at one dollar as I am able to decide when
to sell and not the other way round.
"No cost goes into operating the cooler which is an added
advantage to me.
"I am now looking into expanding my farming venture as my
storage headache has been taken care of," said Kimemia.
An estimated 45 percent of mango and citrus fruits in the
region is lost during post-harvest handling due to lack of
access to storage facilities during the peak harvest season.
Farmers are often forced to sell their fruits at a throwaway
price due to fear of spoilage.
With the charcoal cooler, farmers like Kimemia are able to
make right timings on when to sell the fruits which translates
into better incomes.
Daniel Sila, the researcher behind the charcoal cooler, said
that through this innovation, farmers like Kimemia have also
been able to reduce post-harvest losses.
"We have managed to deal with almost 90 percent of these
losses through proper storage.
"We have been trying to replicate this innovation in other
parts of the country and so far so good," said Sila.