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How to get more customers for your agricultural products

Rearing animals, agri-tourism, fiber, yarn, new or cooked food, cultivate related services—the rundown of potential money streams for your farm is just constrained by your interest, time and imagination. Your farm produce marketing plan begins with a basic list of the major products and services at present offer or need to offer later on. An effective plan can help extend your client base and prompt extra income.

Read: Successful fish farming in Kenya

Identify your farm’s market

If asked the question, “Who are you marketing your farm product to?” your first instinct might be to say “Anyone who will buy.” But if you put some thought into it you’ll realize the answer is much more complex. Do women or men buy more frequently from you? Are your customers young, middle-aged or retired? Do they belong to a certain ethnic group? Do your buyers tend to be of a certain income level? Do they live in a particular area or are they geographically dispersed?

If your farm already has customers, think of your best ones. Who are they and how would you describe them? If you’re just starting out and don’t have customers yet, observe your potential competitors and their customer base. By knowing who your customers or prospects are, you can increase the likelihood they will buy from you by tailoring your marketing message to their needs and desires.

Keep in mind that your target demographic might be different for the different products and services you offer. If you have a sheep/goat farm, for instance, your breeding stock buyers may be local farmers, while buyers might be located in a large city a few hours away, and the middle-aged female hand spinners who buy your fleeces might be spread all across the country.

Read: The Demand For Honey Is Big, How About You Think Of Bee Keeping

Set your farm apart

It’s important for any business to establish its unique selling proposition, or USP. A USP is the answer to the question, “Why should someone do business with me instead of my competition?” What unique benefits does your farm offer? Freshness, quality, personal service, rarity … these can all be part of your USP.

A good USP is a clear, simple and concise statement of the benefits you offer. Along with your product line and target demographic, your USP becomes your North Star, always guiding you even when things seem foggy and the future uncertain.

Spend some time creating your USP and write it down in a prominent spot, be it in the gardening shed, barn or office. Your USP should be kept front and center as a constant reminder of your farm’s purpose and direction.

Now that you’ve established what you’re selling, whom you’re selling it to and what makes it different, you’re ready to get down to the nitty-gritty aspects of implementing a marketing plan. Most marketing plans incorporate a variety of components. Among those you will need to consider include a logo, tagline, website, association membership, advertising, events, customer service, timing and budget.

Create a farm logo.

Your farm’s logo can be something as simple as your farm name in a distinctive font, or it can be more intricate and include illustrated elements that pertain to your product or farm name. A logo should project a business image based on your goals and objectives, and elicit a general feeling for your brand. For example, if you have a wildflower farm that caters to a female clientele, you may want your logo to evoke romance, using soft, natural colors (grass green, sunflower yellow, sky blue or pastels) and a more feminine font to achieve this.

While you can create a farm logo on your computer that is suitable for desktop printing, if you plan on expanding your marketing efforts into packaging, professionally printed materials and signage, you might want to enlist the help of a professional graphic designer. Sign makers, embroiderers and commercial printers all have specific requirements for file format and quality that is difficult to achieve with most home or small-business software. A graphic designer can help you achieve a more polished look and will be able to provide you with the specific file formats you’ll need later on.

If you decide to have your logo professionally designed, finding the right designer is important. Do they know your business or businesses similar to yours? Do they have a style you find appealing? If you want illustrated elements in your logo, can they design these for you or are they limited to using readily available clip art?

The designer should provide you with a few versions of your logo including a high-resolution file for print use (300 dpi), a low-resolution file for web use (72 dpi) and some type of vector file format for embroidery use.

Write a tagline

Ideally, your tagline should be tailored so closely to your brand that competitors can’t substitute their names in it.

Start your tagline brainstorming process by noticing those you see every day on TV, in magazine ads and on the radio. Think about what you want your farm brand to communicate with its tagline. Start putting ideas on paper. Don’t worry about how silly some of the ideas might seem at first, just get them on paper and the right choice will emerge.

Launch a website

There’s no denying it—today’s farmer needs to be technologically savvy, and for most of us, an effective farm marketing plan includes having a website. A website is cost effective and reaches a wide number of customers. Whether you use your site as a static farm brochure to get your name out or actually sell products online, a website can help take your marketing to the next level without a huge investment.

Armed with the photos, text and guidance you provide, a web designer will work to incorporate these elements, along with your logo and tagline, to create a unified site that is consistent with the rest of your farm marketing efforts. Costs will vary depending on the complexity of your needs, whether you are selling products online, the completeness of the information you provide and subsequent revisions.

Join farm associations

Association membership can also be a cost-effective way to market your farm and its products. Membership fees are generally modest, and benefits include newsletter subscriptions and a printed and/or web-based listing in the association’s membership directory

Attend farm-related events

Be it festivals, farmers’ markets, seminars, demonstrations or farm open houses, events provide you with an excellent opportunity to market your products in a hands-on environment. Just as some buyers aren’t comfortable buying from catalogs, some of your customers are likely to want one-on-one contact with you and your products or animals before making a purchase decision.

Having a wide variety of products and presenting them well is important, too. Other events, like open farm days or demonstrations at the local fair can also drum up business for you. Contact your local paper and see if they’d be interested in covering what you’re doing to further increase your exposure.

Begin advertising

Display advertising in a glossy magazine might not be within your budget, but perhaps a small classified ad is. Show programs and newsletters can also provide cost-effective advertising opportunities. Keep in mind that you only have a limited amount of time to catch readers’ attention, so your headline should pique their interest and make them want to read on. Always be sure to include your farm name, your phone number and your website address in any advertising you do. If you have room, also include your logo and tagline.

Provide good customer service.

Many times the best marketing practice is also the cheapest to implement. This is never truer than in the marketing benefit of good customer service. Good customer service doesn’t cost any more to deliver than bad customer service, but bad customer service can literally cost you your business. Whether it is standing behind a sale, answering voicemail and email promptly, or handwriting a thank-you note to put in with an order, small efforts can make a big difference!

Establish a marketing budget and calendar

In your startup years, your farm marketing budget might be 5 to 10 percent of your gross sales figure, but as time goes on and word-of-mouth begins to work for you, your marketing budget might drop to 2 to 3 percent of gross sales. Creating a marketing budget and calendar for your marketing year is a good way to set goals and keep yourself on track.

If your farm business has a natural downtime (as many farms do), this is a great time to plan your marketing. You’ll have fewer distractions, less stress and will be able to come up with more creative ideas than when you’re in the height of your busy season. Marketing isn’t hard to do, it’s just easy to put off doing when it seems like a million tasks are more pressing.

Evaluate your success

The success of your farm marketing plan can be gauged in many different ways. Ask yourself these questions after you’ve given your newly implemented marketing plan time to work.

  • Did I retain more customers?
  • Did I get new customers?
  • Were my existing customers more satisfied?
  • Was my job easier and more fun?
  • Did I sell more?
  • Did I make a larger profit?
  • Did my farm products sell more quickly?
  • Are there some potential customers that might turn into sales in the coming year as a result of this year’s marketing?

After some time, as your farm business develops, you will without a doubt grow your marketing methods, be it sprucing up your product packaging, having handouts professionally printed, conveying official statements, or getting signage made for your farm store or show booth. There will always be a continuing stream of marketing possibilities to consider. Keep an open mind. In the event that there’s something you can’t legitimize fiscally today however think would be an awesome advertising thought, in a year your expanding deals may make it possible.

Also Read: Here Are The Things To Consider When Establishing Drip Irrigation In Your Farm

 

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10 Reasons Why You Should Grow Your Crops Organically

There is nothing like biting into a fresh ripe apple plucked your Shamba. This is just one of the pleasures you can enjoy when you grow your own crops. There was a time when people didn’t give much thought about the foods they buy in the grocery stores. Food safety is one of the main reasons for growing more of our own organic foods, but there are so many other reasons too. Here are the top 10 reasons to grow your own organic crops:

Superior Flavor

There is nothing like biting into a fresh ripe tomato or snacking on string beans plucked from the vine as you putter through the garden.

Many of the varieties of fruits and vegetables sold in grocery stores are adapted for commercial farming. Through selecting and breeding specific traits, these strains are developed to produce more per plant, be ready for harvesting all at once, have a longer shelf life, be uniform size and shape, ship without bruising, and often times finish ripening on trucks during shipping. Even when you purchase organic vegetables, this breeding can compromise flavor. The taste and texture of a grocery store tomato cannot compare to one that is freshly picked from a plant growing in your own garden.

Read: How To Establish An Arrow Root Farm

More Variety

Growing from quality transplants from your local nursery or starting your own seedlings under lights allows you to select from so many different varieties that offer greater flavor and texture than what is available in the grocery stores. You can choose from hundreds of varieties based on flavor, shape, and color. When you grow your own, you can select varieties that are adapted to your growing area or mature in a short period.

No Chemicals

You control the growing environment of your garden. There is no need for chemicals and pesticides in your backyard garden. If you have problems with disease or pests, there is usually an organic remedy to solve it. In worst-case scenarios, you simply chalk that particular crop up to a loss, pull the plants, and plant something else in its place.

These are some of the easiest garden vegetables to grow in your own backyard garden without using pesticides.

Food Safety

Growing and harvesting food from your backyard garden ensures you know where your food came from. I cringe every single time I hear about a food-borne illness on the news and there have been many since my eye-opening experience back in 2006.

Healthier Eating

Tending to your garden and growing your own food will teach you to eat in season when flavors and nutrients are at peak. When you have a lot of harvests to use up, you tend to eat more vegetables and think of creative ways to prepare them so nothing goes to waste. Since they are harvested fresh, the natural flavors of the vegetables shine and do not need additional oils, salt, or other additives to make them taste good.

Fruits and vegetables that ripen naturally in the garden and are consumed within days of harvest have more nutrients than store-bought vegetables. Most of the vegetables that line the grocery store produce section are picked early, shipped to warehouses, distributed to the stores, and stay in storage or on the shelf for a while until you purchase them. Over time, the nutritional value of fruits and vegetables declines. Not only do freshly picked fruits and vegetables taste better, but they also have a higher nutritional value.

Read: Success on bee keeping this is what you need to know

Outdoor Exercise

During the growing season, gardening gets you out in the fresh air and sunshine regularly. There are a lot of different movements in gardening that require strength or stretching. Digging, planting, weeding, and other repetitive tasks are excellent forms of low-impact exercise.

Did you know that 45 minutes of farming burns the same amount of calories as running 1.5 miles in 15 minutes? Regular physical activity can help you feel better and improve your well-being because it relieves stress, boosts energy and releases tension.

Reduction in Food Waste

None of the fruits and vegetables harvested on our property go to waste. We make every effort to eat or preserve all the food harvested from the garden. Whatever scraps or trimmings we don’t consume is either fed to our hens or added to the compost bin to be returned to the garden again as nutrients. We also give away excess harvests if we are unable to use it.

Saves Money at the Grocery Store

Many will challenge that gardening saves money. When the garden bug hits, it is easy to find yourself purchasing cute pots, plant stakes, and gardening gadgets on the market. If you stick to the basics, gardening really doesn’t cost much in supplies in comparison to the amount of food it produces.

Even if you grow a small garden for fresh eating, you will save money. For example, a package of organic kale greens cost at least Ksh10 at my local grocery store and is usually only enough for a few servings. If you grow your own from a package of good-quality organic seeds, it costs half that and produces for a longer period of time yielding about 6 Kilos of greens.

Food Security

The World Health Organization states that food security is achieved when “all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life.”

Growing your own food garden contributes to your food security by providing direct access to food that can be harvested, prepared and fed to your family daily during the growing season. If you learn how to preserve your harvest, you will be able to stock your Pantry and feed your family even when the growing season is over.

Sense of Pride

Planting a seed, watching it sprout and grow to produce food for you, and your family is one of the most gratifying feelings. Sure, many of us work hard to earn a living and provide for our family, but the close association of this simple effort and direct reward is fulfilling.

I love the feeling of pride as I look over a meal I prepared with vegetables from my garden. I revel in the sensation of accomplishment as I stock with potatoes, onions, garlic, other storage crops.

Also Read: 7 Requirements Of Successful Bee Farming, Number 3 Is The Most Important

 

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How To Establish An Arrow Root Farm

Why You Should Grow Arrow-roots

  • It is a low perpetual herbaceous plant with thick, plump and crawling roots and long white filaments and is a decent source of flour.
  • Arrow root flour has a high business esteem in the universal market since it is best ingredients in making amazing biscuits and cookies.
  • Can grow anywhere if there is moisture in the soil
  • It is not influenced by many diseases or pests
  • Little agronomic practices

Varieties of arrow roots

  • Tissue culture variety
  • Cuenca strain
  • Indigenous Variety
  • San Pablo

Read: Here Are The Things To Consider When Establishing Drip Irrigation In Your Farm

Basic Requirements for Arrow root farming

  • Arrow root thrives anywhere provided there is enough moisture in the soil for its normal
    growth and development.
  • It grows best in places where rainfall is uniformly distributed throughout the year.
  • The rhizomes are resistant to inclement weather and can stay long in the soil.
  • They germinate in the same area where they have been planted.

Soil Requirements for arrow root farming

  • Arrow root requires a friable, well drained loamy soil. However, soil at the foot of the
    hills, in valley and newly opened areas are preferable.
  • Clayey soil must be avoided since it induces poor rhizome development and usually cause
    the deformation of the rhizome which tends to break during harvesting.
  • It is advisable to plant this crop in an open field provided there is sufficient moisture
    throughout its growing period. Planting in partially shaded areas can also be done but
    with reduce yield.

Read: 7 Requirements Of Successful Bee Farming, Number 3 Is The Most Important

Land Preparation and planting

  • Prepare the land by plowing and harrowing two or three times depending upon the soil
    Plow deep enough to provide favorable condition for better root development.
  • Arrowroot can be propagated by suckers and rootstock or rhizomes with two or more
    nodes each.
  • Two suckers may be planted to a hill at a distance of 1.0 x 0.75 meters. Under poor soil
    condition, the hills should set closer about 0.75 x0.30 meters apart.

Irrigation and fertilization of arrowroots

  • No irrigation needed provided there is enough moisture in the soil especially at the early
    stage of growth.
  • The crop responds well to fertilization.
  • Compost or commercial fertilizer can be applied tothe plant.
  • An application of 300 to 400 kg of 14-14-14 per hectare is recommended.

Weeding and Cultivation of arrowroots

  • Simultaneous weeding and cultivation must be done during the first three to four months,
    depending upon the weed population in the field.
  • Alternate hilling-up and off-barring must be employed until the plants are bid enough
    tocover spaces between rows.

Harvesting of arrow roots

  • The crop is ready for harvest 8 to 10 months after planting.
  • Produces higher yield when harvested in eleven to twelve months, with higher content of
    starch content (25%).
  • Like any other root crops, it is harvested by passing a plow close to the furrows, exposing
    the tuberous roots, then cut-off the stem.
  • Harvesting with the use of a fork may also be done on by pulling up the whole plant in
    case of sandy loam soil.

Uses of Arrow Roots

  • The rhizomes of arrowroot, comprise of an effortlessly processed starch when extracted is a source of a dry white powder. This powder is a source of one of the purest type of natural carbohydrates.
  • Superior quality starch is utilized as a part of making a top of the line scones, baked goods, pudding and cakes.
  • Its flour being exceedingly digestible and ready to prevent curdling is utilized for the most part for invalid’s also, baby’s milk.
  • It is additionally an amazing element for thickening ice-cream.
  • The rhizomes are great rice substitute or extender. The tuberous root can be eaten when boiled or roasted before they become fibrous, and taste similar if not better than corn.
  • Arrowroot is additionally a successful substitute for cornin broiler ration.
  • Other plant parts are superb roughage and silage for animals.
  • The fibrous materials remain after the extraction of starch can likewise used as dairy cattle feed.
  • Arrowroot starch also has demulcent properties and in some cases utilized as a part of the treatment of ailments of the intestine.
  • Powdered rhizomes might be utilized as poultice for wound and ulcers.
  • Plant leaves are infrequently utilized as packing materials, while the pulp is utilized as a part of paper fabrication, cardboard, cushions and wallboard.

Read: The Demand For Honey Is Big, How About You Think Of Bee Keeping

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The Demand For Honey Is Big, How About You Think Of Bee Keeping

Honey is ten times more expensive than oil and demand for this natural product is increasing not only in Africa itself but globally.

Priced at between $8-$10 (Ksh800-Ksh 1000), one kilo of honey in Kenya costs 10 times what a litre of petrol does ($ 1.2 or Ksh120). And in the Arab market, a jar of honey can fetch almost double this amount ($20-$30).
It is a price tag that has honey producers all over the world salivating. While Kenya is not one of the largest exporters of honey globally, it is a trade that is being closely watched as Kenyan producers strategise on how to pioneer their entry into this lucrative honey market. Ethiopia is the largest producer of honey in Africa, and according to USAID, produces approximately 45,300t annually. Tanzania is the second largest (8,000t, and Kenya ranks third in the region, followed by Uganda and then Rwanda, with just 4,000t a year.

African honey has a unique flavour profile, which makes it comparable to some of the premium honey in the markets.
The UAE is the most important market for us. It’s the largest with the greatest purchasing power. Price sensitivity is low, and there is an appreciation of premium products.

Read: 7 Requirements Of Successful Bee Farming, Number 3 Is The Most Important

Domestic or International?

In Kenya the demand for honey is really high. Packers or producers don’t want to get involved in export because of the logistics involved. They prefer to sell locally or in the region because there is a readily available market.
Demand for honey in Kenya is so high, that the country is unable to satisfy itself and is forced to import from neighbouring Tanzania.

So with a ready and easily accessible local market that offers good prices, Kenyan honey producers are unwilling to undergo the bureaucratic rigours of export, which involve higher transport costs and quality testing.

There are no commercial producers of honey; they are all smallholder traditional bee keepers, which exacerbates the ability to meet the large demands of markets like the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

Honey is a very special item to Muslims. It’s a high-value commodity; it’s in the Quran. The Arab market wants a container a month, that’s 20t a month. We can’t even supply our own market.
Africa, does not export significant amounts to the US market, and in 2013 the US only imported 3,000 kilograms of honey from Kenya for $15,000, according to the US department of Agriculture.

The money is in the honey, that is where the future of the business lies. Indeed fast increases in the price of honey combined with flagging global volumes spell a promising outlook for producers who can scale up their volumes.

The only question is how they will do this, and whether Kenya will eventually emerge at the forefront of trade in the golden liquid.

Read: Here Are The Things To Consider When Establishing Drip Irrigation In Your Farm

 

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7 Requirements Of Successful Bee Farming, Number 3 Is The Most Important

  1. Decide on the objective

Be clear on why you would like to try and do bee farming. For honey, for pollination, for colony production and sale? this can assist you collect needed data and skills.

  1. Feasibility assessment for beekeeping

Honeybees want food (nectar and pollen) to survive, grow, multiply, and make honey that comes from various plants i.e. agricultural/ horticultural/ ornamental/ wild (herbs, shrubs/bushes, trees). Thus, the provision of bee floral resources throughout different months of the year could be a primary demand for bee farming. In different words, the success of a beekeeping enterprise depends on the provision of floral resources that are in bloom through different months of the year. A good amount of honey is harvested if a region has an abundance of honey/ bee plants among the various bees i.e. ideally among five-hundred-meter radius of the bee colony).

Thus, it’s necessary to assess whether or not a given area is sweet for beekeeping or not. If not, it’s necessary to ask if something be done to make it appropriate for farming. Feasibility assessment is conducted to search out whether:

  • An area has enough bee flora among foraging range of bees to feed on and gather honey
  • Environment (climate/weather) is appropriate for bee keeping
  • Whether it’s safe from bee predators
  • Market for honey and different bee product
  • Can something be done to make it appropriate for beekeeping?

Read: What You Require To Establish A Small Fish Pond

  1. Identify the potential site for beekeeping/ apiary placement

Based on the practicable assessment, choose a site that has many bee florae inside the hunting range of bees, free from bee predators and enemies for putting bee colonies. If the chosen site doesn’t have bee’s flora throughout the year, establish areas that have enough bee flora so the bee colonies will migrate throughout all the slack seasons or feed the colonies sugar and pollen supplements. Migration of bee colonies is particularly necessary when keeping with Apis mellifera bees.

  1. Receive adequate knowledge and training to develop skills in beekeeping

The general bee management training includes sessions on seasonal bee management; bee pests and diseases, and their diagnosis and control; bee forage management and pollination; harvesting, processing, and value addition of honey and bee products; and the establishment of enterprise development and marketing etc.

The beekeeping enterprise development and management training has sessions on product development, and value addition—processing, packaging, branding and labeling, certification, advertising and marketing, accounting and book keeping, and business plan development, and enterprise linkages with public and private institutions for strengthening the honey enterprise.

If the objective is to develop bee colonies for sale, then it is necessary to get training on queen rearing and colony multiplication. Similarly, if the objective is to manage bees for pollination, it is important to get training accordingly.

Identify institutions/ resource persons providing support in beekeeping

Identify institutions/ resource persons providing support in beekeeping in your area and participate in bee management and bee enterprise development training/s. There are different training packages.

Read: Management of green house is paramount. Why?

  1. Procure key beekeeping equipment

This includes beehives, bee veils, swarm bags, queen gates, hive tools, feeders, and smokers. Some materials such as feeders, smokers, and swarm bags can be made at home using local material. Learn to make these. The training resource persons can tell you how to make these pieces of equipment at home. It is better to buy beehives from a skilled carpenter as the beehives have specific dimensions. A small mistake in hive dimension, particularly bee space, can result in bees making uneven and joint combs which makes honey harvesting a problem.

  1. Carry out regular colony inspection and management

Regularly examine colonies to grasp the standing of colony development, disease condition, presence of queen, brood—eggs, larvae and pupae, and quantity of food—pollen and nectar stores. This may assist you decide what seasonal colony management practices ought to be undertaken. You’ll be able to examine the colonies through 2 methods: 1) from outside, without opening the hives and 2) from inside, by opening the hives.

Colony inspection from outside

Colony examination from outside is distributed so as to get an idea of the colony standing without opening the hive. Examination from outside will give the subsequent info about bee colony:

  • A larger variety of incoming and outgoing bees, and a bigger variety of pollen carrying foragers at the hive entrance signal the colony is healthy and robust
  • Larvae, pupae, and new emerged bees scattered at or before the doorway signal the colony is diseased
  • Bee excreta and black patches seen round the entrance signal the colony is abnormal or pathological
  • Plenty of dead bees with the proboscis out scattered at or before of the doorway signal the colony is poisoned
  • Crawling bees that are unable to fly signal bee malady
  • A sizable number of bees on the wing and fighting with one another and/or dead may be a signal of robbing
  • Clustering bees at the hive entrance and a far smaller variety of bees flying to forage could signal absconding or swarming.
  • A sizable number of drones and erratic bee movement could signal parturition workers or a queen less colony.

If the above symptoms are seen, it’s necessary to examine the colony by opening the hive and take applicable management steps to unravel the matter like a shot.

Colony inspection from inside through opening the hive

As part of good hive management practice, a colony is inspected from the inside after it is inspected from the outside to reconfirm its status, its abnormalities, and its strengths. Such an inspection should be done per the set objectives, starting from the collection of necessary materials. The following observations shall be made while performing an inspection of a colony from the inside:

  • Condition of queen
  • Colony strength–number of adult bees, and amount of brood–eggs, larvae, and pupae
  • Presence of bee diseases and pests in the colony
  • Symptoms of swarming and absconding
  • Need for supplementing comb foundation sheets
  • Storage of food (honey and pollen)
  • Cleanliness and hygiene
  • Need of scrapping/removing unnecessary/deformed/extra combs built by the bees.

Perform any management practices required to maintain colony health. Manage bee colonies as taught in the training.

  1. Honey harvesting, packaging, labeling, and selling

During the honey flow season when there are plenty of flowers in bloom i.e. spring, harvest honey using a honey extractor.   Pack honey in clean glass, stainless steel, or food grade bottles, label the bottles and sell directly to your consumer or through a shop owner/middle man.

Read: Best Practices And What To Consider Before Farming Tomatoes

 

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Here Are The Things To Consider When Establishing Drip Irrigation In Your Farm

Drip irrigation can boost crop production by way of more than 30% at the same time as the use of 30 to 50% much less water than a sprinkler. It can also save you defects in fruits and greens while saving you time. Right here are our 5 concerns for planning a drip irrigation system for huge-scale or small market farmers.

  • Determine the quality of your water supply for your drip irrigation. Factors can also include such things as pond water source that will require installation of a filtering machine or an adjustment of the water PH, depending on your plants. Familiarize yourself with the elevation of the plot/field you plan to irrigate, as it will determine how you size the system and adjust water flow. A 2.3-foot change in elevation, for instance, results in a gain of 1 pound of water pressure going downhill, or loss of 1 pound of pressure going uphill, requiring pressure compensation within the system on steep slopes. Topography, water flow rate and distance also will affect the size of pipes you’ll need.

Read: Success on bee keeping this is what you need to know

  • Will you automate your drip system? Depending on the complexity and size of the system, you may need to split watering times between different zones to water spaces incrementally, based on the output of your pump or the water needs of different crops. Automation ensures consistency in soil moisture and in flow, versus turning the water on and off at irregular intervals. The latter is important if you use the drip system to fertilize.
  • Think ahead. As plants mature, they require more water, which is especially important if you are irrigating perennial fruit crops. Build the system with the capacity to supply the optimum amount of water plants will need at maturity. If your irrigation water comes from the same well your home uses, the pressure tank may need to be upsized to reduce pump cycling and possible pump burnout. Or, you can irrigate at night when family water use is minimal.
  • Permit for expansion whilst putting in your device. For systems 1 and1/2 acre or larger, scaling for expansion up front will save money, as completely mounted pipes need to be buried underneath the frost line and the value of trenching in pipelines is high-priced. Customize your pipes to accommodate expansion as you increase your operations. Doubling the pipe diameter will quadruple the ability water float rate.

Read: Successful fish farming in Kenya

Drip irrigation is not a set-and-neglect-it solution. Systems need to be checked each day as emitters might also plug and rodents may additionally cause damage. The system additionally need to be drained to winterize it.

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What You Require To Establish A Small Fish Pond

Prior to a farmer starting fish farming, there are a few fundamental contemplations to guarantee achievement. These include:

Design of the Pond

When choosing the pond site and configuration, there are a few variables to be considered. A portion of these are:

Source of water to fill the pond and how the same water will be brought to the pond:

Fish Ponds in Western Kenya (Courtesy: Youtube)

The general rule is that the pond water inflow and outflow should measure up to the pond volume over the time of a month. On the off chance that the inflow is too low, water quality may experience the ill effects of oxygen exhaustion as well as collection of toxicants. In the event that the water surge is too high, a lot of valuable green growth might be flushed out from the pond. The water should keep the pond full all through the culture period. The pond should top off in under seven days. Place screens on pond deltas and outlets to keep out predators, creepy crawlies and undesirable fish and furthermore to hold the cultured fish.

Size, shape and pond depth:

Moderately shallow ponds are profitable. In any case, the shallow end ought to be no less than 0.5m deep to keep away from invasion by weeds and predation of the fish. The size and state of the pond can shift contingent upon the fish species, fish populace and the farmer’s preferences. It’s important that on the off chance that you need to produce fingerlings, you will require all the more small ponds while a food fish producer requires moderately large ponds.

Slope of the pond base:

The bottom of the pond must have an adequate slant for good drainage. A slant with a drop of 2cm for each 10m along the pond bottom is appropriate. On the off chance that the slant is excessively gentle, the pond won’t be easily drained. In the event that the pond is excessively steep, it might be excessively shallow toward one side or too deep at the other end. Pond ought to be drainable.

Height, width and Slope of the dyke:

The perimeter and feeder streets are required for machines movement during construction and harvest. If you intend to drive on the dykes, assemble them no less than 3m wide to top and at the base.

Soil types:

Top soil is high in organic material and ought not be used to construct pond dykes. Land ought to be made out of good quality soil, with practically no rock or shakes on the surface or mixed in. Areas with rocky, gravelly, or sandy soil are not suitable for pond construction. Soil that will be used to build the dykes must contain no less than 20 percent clay so the finished pond will hold water throughout the growing period.

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Fish Species suitable in Kenya

There are three major fish species which can do well in the Kenyan climatic conditions. They are Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus), African catfish (Clarias gariepinus) and Trout

a) Tilapia

This is a warm water fish and is mainly cultured in fresh water environment. It thrives well in water temperature of between 20-35 degree Celsius. It attains sexual maturity at two months. Tilapia feeds lower in the food chain i.e. feeds mainly on phytoplankton, zooplankton and detritus.

Stocking rates range from two to six fingerlings/m2, depending on the level of management. Male tilapia are known to grow almost twice as fast as females.

It is therefore preferable to stock only males (monosex culture) to achieve the fastest growth and reach market size in the shortest possible period, resulting in more proteins and profits. A major management problem of pond-cultured tilapia is excessive reproduction and the subsequent stunting of fish due to overcrowding.

Methods of controlling overpopulation include manual sexing of fish, use of sex-reversal hormones to produce all males, and use of predators.

The success of these methods may rest with how well a fish farmer understands the techniques.

b) Catfish

It grows in the same agro climatic regions as tilapia. The water temperatures of between 26-33 degrees Celsius are ideal. It attains maturity at two years of age or at 200-500 grams. It feeds mainly on zooplanktons. Their stocking rate is 100-450 fry/ m2.

Catfish has a drawback of high mortality of fry especially during the first 14 days after eggs hatch

c) Trout

It’s a cold water fish and it’s best grown in high altitude regions where water is cooler. Its presently limited by availability of seeds and quality feeds in the country

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Pond preparation for stocking

The procedure below should be followed by the farmer to the latter when preparing the pond for stocking. These steps will help boost the productivity of the pond.

  1. For an old pond, drain all water and allow it to dry for 14 days.
  2. Apply lime to the pond bottom and dyke slopes. Choose agricultural limestone (CaCO3) for application in your fishpond
  3. Apply organic fertiliser in the pond before filling it with water. The most common examples of organic fertilisers are animal manures (from cattle, poultry, donkeys, rabbits, sheep and goats) and decaying plant matter, such as cut grasses.
  4. Fill the pond with water.
  5. Apply inorganic fertiliser in the pond after it has been filled. Apply DAP and UREA to your fishpond at the following rates: wwDAP: 2 g/m2/week (or weekly applications of 15 tablespoons DAP for every 100 m2) wwUREA: 3 g/m2/week (or weekly applications of 30 tablespoons urea for every 100 m2).

Fish feeds

There are various feeds that can be offered to the fish in the pond. Some commonly available feeds include:

— Meals

— Crumble

— Dry sinking pellets

— Moist sinking pellets

— Floating pellets

The feeds can be formulated so as to meet the body requirements of the fish species. This can be done as follows:

  1. Cotton seed cake— 37%
  2. Wheat bran— 57%

iii. Fresh shrimp— 6%

  1. Vitamin premix

Feed ingredients can be hand ground or a manual grinder can be used. It’s important to adhere to the four fixes (4Fs) when feeding fish. These are:

  • Fixed feed quality.
  • Fixed feed quantity.
  • Fixed feeding location.
  • Fixed feeding time.

The fish should be fed between 10am and 4pm when the water temperatures and dissolved oxygen content are reasonably high and the fish are active.

Fish farming is a very profitable enterprise if done with good management. Farmers should develop passion towards this less exploited agricultural opportunity. Join me next week as we go through handling, seed production, marketing, hatchery management and fish farming economics among other topics on aquaculture.

The fish ought to be fed between 10am and 4pm once the water temperatures and dissolved  oxygen content are moderately high and therefore the fish are active.

Fish farming could be a very profitable business if sensible management is done. Farmers ought to develop passion towards this less exploited agricultural opportunity.

(Courtesy of Daily Nation, Seeds of Gold)

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Successful fish farming in Kenya

Kenya is known to be blessed with various assets with the potential for fruitful aquaculture. Hence, commercial fish rearing isn’t another investment thought in the nation. The nation is home to unmistakable geographic and climatic areas and assets, for example, substantial waterways, the Indian Ocean coastline, marshes, and Lake Victoria, the biggest freshwater lake in the continent. Such resources add to the plenitude of a variety of sea-going species in Kenya, which favors both vast and small-scale fish farming in Kenya.

As of now, fish farming in Kenya has ended up being a key monetary movement and a source of income for a few Kenyan family units. Thus, you can go over various fish farms set up for business purposes as you transverse the nation. While a few farmers practice this gainful financial activity for its benefits, others are doing it for family consumption. In any case, regardless of whether its fish farming for subsistence or business purposes, these fish farms have made a huge contribution to the dietary demands and economy of the nation.

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Benefits Of Commercial Fish Farming In Kenya

  • You will have an easy time since climate, and geographical conditions of Kenya are ideal for the economic activity.
  • Kenya has an array of fish species hence you can choose on the most profitable ones.
  • The country has a high demand for fish products, so your fish will fetch good market prices.
  • You can opt to use some of the fish for consumption. So you can earn and at the same time meet your daily nutritional demands.
  • The practice can be a good source of income considering the current high rate of unemployment experienced in Kenya.
  • The practice is a right way of exploiting the numerous water resources in the country for economic purposes.

Step By Step Instructions On How To Start A Fish Farm

In case you’re thinking about joining the group of fish farmers in Kenya, it is critical that you remember a few imperative elements. Here is a well-ordered manual for take after while diving into this lucrative monetary activity.

  • Selecting the perfect land – For business angle generation, it will be appropriate on the off chance that you pick earthen lakes since they are the most reasonable. Make sure that the ground you pick is moderately level and free from contamination. Furthermore, the land ought to have a dependable water source since the quality and amount of the water you utilize impacts production.
  • Construction and outline of the fish pond – Ensure that the pond plan you pick underpins the species you expect to introduce. The pond should support the growth of your fish. A perfect pond configuration also guarantees most extreme production and great wellbeing of your fish.
  • Selecting suitable fish species – Your decision of a specific species is subject to the farm area, atmosphere, and market. For example, tilapia is known to have a monstrous demand across the nation. You can likewise go for fish species that is easy but difficult to keep up with your present area climate.

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Techniques And Tips

It is advisable that you provide quality food to ensure faster growth and maximum production. For commercial farming, you can go for manufactured supplementary feeds. The Kenyan market has several fish feed varieties that are specific for the different types of fish species. While caring for your fish, ensure that you handle all your tasks precisely and timely.

It is also advisable that you change the water and examine the water and soul quality regularly. Additionally, be keen on how you protect your fish from predators and use the proper medicines to keep your fish healthy.

Incomes And Profitability

Fish farming is a lucrative business idea in Kenya. For example, a farmer in Kirinyaga started the business with about Ksh. 20,000 and began making money after only a half year. His first huge cash from his fish farm was Ksh. 150,000. As of now, the farmer acquires between Ksh. 60,000 and Ksh. 100,000 consistently from the production of fish and fingerlings. This is simply a case to affirm how lucrative fish farming in Kenya can be.

Marketing

Fish has a ready and appropriate market in Kenya since most Kenyans cherish the delicacy. Moreover, fish also has an appeal in the universal market. It is prudent that you send your fish straight to the market at the earliest opportunity because of their perishability. You can also categorize your harvest as indicated by sizes with the goal that you can expand profits.

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Success on bee keeping: This is what you need to know!

If you have taken up the respectable decision and the art of beekeeping then you are in for the ride you could ever imagine. Regardless of whether you do it as a hobby or as a business venture, honey bee farming has a great deal to offer. As a learner, this practice may be a touch of overwhelming. All things considered, you are managing a standout amongst the most forceful and possibly risky types of insects out there. Be that as it may, if you treat them right and comprehend the art you will get the opportunity to see their more advantageous angle with everything from honey harvests to pollination for your crops. To enable you to begin off on the correct foot, below are 10 tips each beginner must know.

Understand the honey bees

You can’t begin honey bee farming if you don’t understand what you are really going after. Understand that the achievement of this venture depends more on the honey bees than your contribution as the farmer. You will in this manner need to understand them as far as things like natural needs, colony chain of command and significantly more. Seeing this encourages you make sense of precisely what’s in store and how to manage challenges like honey bee diseases and aggression as they come.

Take your time choosing a good home for them

With regards to honey bee keeping, giving the colony, a decent home is critical in the event that you have any expectations of being successful. It is vital that the honey bees feel quiet and at sufficiently home to begin delivering the valuable fluid gold that is nectar. For this situation, you have to do some exploration regarding the honey bee boxes and hives out there. Those with removable casings are the most effortless to work with as an apprentice. This is on account of they enable you to move the honey bees, gather and complete numerous other distinctive upkeep exercises.

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Collect all the important apparatus ahead of time

The following vital point to fruitful honey bee keeping is guaranteeing that you have every one of the tools necessary. For this situation, you will require the honey bee boxes or hives, protective gear and a smoker to begin. It is constantly best to guarantee that you begin new colonies with new hardware to keep cross sullying from old wiped out hives.

Watch out for changing seasons

When beginning honey bee keeping, timing is everything. The best time to set up is around spring or late-spring where the flowers are in sprout. For this situation, the honey bees have a considerable measure to work with as far as sources of pollen and nectar. With autumn launches, you likewise benefit from their rush to make honey reserves for winter.

Start small with nuclear/package colonies

When starting bee farming, you may either choose to start large using a wild swarm or small with package colonies. As a beginner working with the small nuclear colonies is the best option. These are easier to manage and allow you to learn as the colony grows.

Inspect the hive regularly; not overbearingly

Inspecting the hive is very important and should be done every 7 to 10 days. This helps you identify any anomalies including diseases in the colony. It also allows you to monitor the productivity of the bees. However, it is important to ensure that you do not overdo the inspections. This is because opening and closing the hive too much disturbs the bees and hinders their productivity.

Leave some of the harvest for the bees

After all your patience and hard work, the bees will reward you with honey and other products including bee pollen and Propolis. However, it is very important for you to understand that the bees need these products more than you do. So, when harvesting make sure to leave them with enough to survive on. In this case, the best thing to do is to research on how much honey the species you work with requires for survival. With this information, you should know just how much to leave behind.

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Do not irritate the honey bees unless important

When you have the beehives, all set up with the honey bees fed and all that, leave them in peace. Exasperating them pointlessly will make your life a lot harder than it should be. For one, it disturbs the honey bees and makes them amazingly aggressive. It also distracts them from activities including honey making and other hive upkeep duties.

Learn from your oversights and encounters

You will commit a great deal of errors as a beginner; that is unavoidable. You will also have a ton of progress on the off chance that you are determined and very much educated. Make a point to gain from every one of these encounters to guarantee your colony’s accomplishment in future.

When you are prepared, grow and begin more colonies

With bee keeping, colonies should be as many as possible. When you have aced dealing with the first then you should consider getting another. Having two comes as a noteworthy preferred standpoint predominantly for backup reasons. If one colony ends up performing poorly, you have an additional hive from which you can acquire resources like honey and actual bees for help.

With the 10 hints given above, you ought to have the capacity to begin and support an effective colony. Simply be as readied as could reasonably be expected and willing to gain from your errors and you will be a master in the blink of an eye.

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Management of green house is paramount. Why?

Good greenhouse management is critical for the proficiency and health of the farm. It might appear to be straightforward — put a seed in a tray with soil, include water, and voila, there are youthful plants to transplant into the field. In writing, truly, it’s as simple as that. Be that as it may, ideal air temperature and water delivery are essential for the advancement of seedlings. Additionally, hidden in the air all around us, in the water leaving a hose, and in the ground inside a greenhouse, there are numerous baffling little living things prepared to wreak destruction on youthful plants. The three most imperative nursery management practices are ideal temperature control, consistent air circulation and appropriate moisture delivery.

Optimal Temperature Control

Air and soil temperature are generally known to be critical for seed germination, yet the details for each kind of seed are so extraordinary it can be difficult to oversee. For example, solanums (tomatoes, eggplant, and so forth) require an ideal soil temperature of around 90 degrees while spinach needs an ideal soil temperature of 70 degrees. For tomatoes, if the temperature is too low, the seeds will stay lethargic; for spinach, soil temperature that is too high can cause thermo-lethargy, averting germination.

So how can one deal with the soil temperatures per specific crops? For the most part keeping up the temperature of a nursery in the 70-80 degree range is best for all crops. Appropriate ventilation and air dissemination help keep up that temperature in warm months. Making sure to open the greenhouse before it’s excessively hot and shutting it before it’s cool (to keep the warmth in) are imperative practices. In the winter months, a few people use electric or propane radiators to keep up warm temperatures. In hot atmospheres, shade fabric can be hung over a greenhouse to keep the temperature down if necessary. Overseeing soil temps for various cropss should be done using area particular warming mats to raise the soil temperature or utilizing little shade structures to keep flats cooler on your greenhouse tables.

All together for the greater part of this to work, keep in mind to use quality soil and surrounding air thermometers. On the off chance that assets are accessible, buying a framework that is programmed, where the ventilation is guided straightforwardly into your thermometer, can make life considerably less demanding. Make sure to keep monitoring your greenhouse. Greenhouses are to a great degree fastidious and the slightest changes in sunlight and wind, or technological troubles can leave your greenhouse very dry and seedlings shriveled or dead.

Air Circulation

To help keep up temperature and prevent pests of the insect or fungal kingdoms, proper air flow is urgent. A greenhouse ventilation framework ought to be comprised of low, side-wall and end-wall vents to permit cool air in, and edge vents to enable the hot air to debilitate out. Fans at the end walls and in the edge are essential to circle the air around the greenhouse and in addition make a slight  breeze easily get through the plants, keeping spores and insects from hanging out on small starts. Air circulation is also very vital in relieving abundance moistness in the greenhouse that molds and “damping off” organisms love. “Damping off” living beings are fungal pathogens.

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Proper Moisture Delivery

Maybe the most imperative piece of germinating a seed is water. For some, reasons, observing the moisture levels of your soil media is critical and the ideal moisture required for germination may not be natural. Seeds require steady moisture to germinate, however they don’t require profound watering. Seeds ought to be watered all the time sufficiently only to keep up a shallow and high moisture content in the upper part of the soil media where the seed lies. Permitting the extremely top soils to dry down once in a while is critical in forestalling soil borne pathogens.

Once the seed has sprouted and developed, it is critical to start incorporating a consistent wet-dry swing in your media to both advance dry season resilience for their opportunity in the field and avert “damping off” organisms from growing. As discussed, “damping off” organisms are fungal pathogens that occupy the soil surface of your seedling flass and trays frequently shaping a green hard covering. These living organisms can influence the stems of seedlings to decay and the plants at last die.

The depth of the watering is also an incredibly important aspect of moisture management practices in the greenhouse. Once the seedlings begin to grow, the deeper their roots are. Incorporating longer and deeper waterings less frequently gives the plants the needed wet-dry swing (especially on the soil surface) but also promotes good root growth and drought tolerance.

Utilizing these ideal practices will give you beautiful seedlings that will have a greater success rate in the field.

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