To empower Nigerian youths through the cultivation of apple fruit, a Kenya agriculture firm Wambugu Apples, has entered into partnership with a Nigerian-based not-for-profit organisation Uplifting Youths Through Agriculture (UYOTA).
According to Business Day, Afoma Adigwe the founder of UYOTA, speaking at a meeting organised in Lagos by the two organisations, explained that it was imperative to partner with Wambugu Apples because of the new breed of specie of apple fruit, which can grow anywhere in Nigeria.
Adigwe further said: “The only place where apple can grow in Nigeria is Jos, Platue State, but this specie of Wambugu Apples can grow anywhere in Nigeria and that is the reason UYOTA is collaborating with them to bring in the improved seedlings to create job for our teeming youths, which has always been my agenda.
“We also have mission to encourage the youths and the stakeholders in the agriculture to see how we can encourage and grow five million Wambugu Apples in the next five years in Nigeria and other identified African countries. “We have already planted in Kano, Kogi, Ikorodu in Lagos and Imo State. Recently, we brought seedlings to some people in Kastina, Benue, Oyo and Umuahia in Abia State.”
For her, the project has a value chain as it would not only earn foreign exchange, but assist the government in youth empowerment. However, she expressed her organisation’s determination to partner with firms like Tertiary Education Trust Fund and Universal Basic Education Commission among others in executing the project.
“We will go to primary and post primary schools to introduce the project because we want to catch them young. School children should have an idea of planting apple tree and when they grow up they will put it in to practice. “Universities in the country can make millions of dollars by farming apple with reference to what Moi University Kenya has done.
“Having understanding that most universities have large expands of land and potential man power, it is wise that most universities in Nigeria should take advantage of apple farming like Moi University in Kenya have done, this will create cash flow to the school, jobs to the students, and skill to the students among other things.”
On the other hand, Adigwe appealed to government to assist the agricultural sector by providing infrastructure such as good roads, water, electricity among others.
Also she emphasised the need for the government to tackle the issue of insecurity currently ravaging the country so that farmers can grow apple fruit anywhere in the country without fear of been attacked or killed.
Also speaking during the meeting, Kate Wambugu, managing director of Wambugu Apples, explained that the partnership would lead to transformation in the agricultural sector in Nigeria, adding that each Wambugu’s apple tree could produce between 300 to 500 fruits per year. Giving a brief background of Wambugu Apples, Kate who is also the daughter of the man who discovered Wambugu Apples said: “There is this man called Wambugu who used to work as a mechanic in the streets of Nyeri. One day, he got the idea of planting apples.
“He tried planting some exotic breeds, but as usual, they did not perform as well as he expected. Then he remembered that a long time ago, during the days of Mau Mau, his forefathers had survived in the forests where they used to plant a special kind of African apples. So Wambugu set out for the Aberdare forests and searched for some of the remnants of these orchards.
“He found them, and using his little knowledge of grafting, grafted them with the exotic varieties. Luckily the grafted variety grew very well and within 11 months they started producing some awesome fruits. “What impressed Wambugu, even more, was the fact that the fruits that came from his trees were larger and sweeter than ordinary apples. He discovered each tree could produce between 300 and 500 fruits per year.
“Word went out about his invention and caught the ears of the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO). They visited his farm and named his apples “The Wambugu Apple”. Not only had Wambugu’s little-known apple species wowed scientists, but it also attracted markets from far and wide. “From a mechanic who used to survive in a hand-to-mouth lifestyle to supplying hotels like Mount Kenya Safari Club and owning over 20 acres of land in the leafy neighborhoods of Ihururu in Nyeri County, the man is getting a juicy bite in a field that’s otherwise seen as a preserve of formally trained agriculture experts’’.