The Realities of Greenhouse Returns

Over the past few months, there has been an introduction of the concept nunua-ploti-na-greenhouse. The idea of owning a plot and a greenhouse from which your plot starts paying off from the sale of horticultural crops grown in the greenhouse. A Beautiful concept that ensures the investors pay back their plot on time and easily while we improve our food security as a country. However, there lies a huge deception on the returns that has forced us to talk about this issue before it is branded the next Kenyan pyramid scheme. We have an obligation to protect our industry and to state our position on the current discussion on people’s lips on the validity of this concept.

When we were approached to run with this project by some of the real estate companies, they all had one goal in mind, for us to “guarantee” a return of a minimum Ksh.900,000 per year from an 8M by 15M Greenhouse which is the standard size of the structure in the market. We first had an issue on the term and word guarantee which basically means “… a formal promise or assurance (typically in writing) that certain conditions will be fulfilled…” Secondly, on the value of the return. It was indeed ambitious and is yet to be validated by any greenhouse farmer under our umbrella that we have worked with over the past 5 years.

Why ambitious? The 8M by 15M Greenhouse takes in 400 plants with a spacing of 60cm each with a practical average yield of 15Kgs per plant over a complete season (9Months). A kilo of greenhouse tomatoes usually fluctuates across the year as it competes with the outdoor grown tomatoes dropping prices up to Ksh.20 per kilo while when the open field farmers aren’t harvesting, greenhouse farmers fetch up to Ksh.80 per kilo. However, with this concept, the farmer is assured a fixed rate of Ksh.50 per kilo giving the total returns at Ksh.300,000 as gross revenue. It is expected that expenses such as fertiliser, chemicals, agronomic support and management charges are deducted before sending the net revenue to the client with most expenses averaging Ksh.100,000 leaving a net value of Ksh.200,000.

Where then does Ksh.900,000 arise from? It is our desire and belief that farmers and investors are provided with the right information before committing their hard earned money to acquire this concept. For our partners, we have come out openly and put the facts on the table that we as a company cannot guarantee returns but instead can assure our clients that we have  the experience and expertise needed to ensure their investment gives a return sufficient to make the concept sustainable.

We shall at all times remain transparent on this matter and look forward to continually working with Kenyans in an open and honest manner to achieve both improved incomes and a food secure country.

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