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How to Grow Fruits and Veggies for Export Market

fruit and vegetable farming

Kenya is becoming a power house in farming as fruits and vegetables present a good opportunity for farmers, exporters and other people involved in farming. The only limiting factor in this production capacity of the current farmers.

Common Challenges That Farmers Face

There are a few challenges that face farmers in the horticulture sub-sector that are not limited to;

  • Low prices in terms of local markets
  • High costs of inputs (seeds. Fertilizer, pesticides)
  • Strict international standards and market demands which hinder access to the export market
  • Post-harvest losses and lack of enough technology to improve consumer acceptance
  • Lack of enough capital and limited access to affordable loans from finance institutions for farmers
  • Climate change – Kenya of late is experiencing climatic changes where rain is sometimes unreliable
  • Pests and diseases – Kenya currently is facing fruit fly and false codling moth. Another problem farmers need to get away with is management of the citrus greening disease in oranges and the woodiness disease in purple passion fruits, the markets for these fruits will remain unexploited.
  • Poor infrastructure: Inadequate storage, lack of pack house facilities and refrigerated trucks constrain marketability of horticultural products.

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How Much does Kenya Export Abroad?

Domestic consumption of fresh produce is still high and currently stands at about 95 per cent of total production. However, export market is currently growing, and the major markets are in the Euro-zone.

To improve margins, Kenya has focused on diversifying to other non-traditional export markets such as the United Arab Emirates, Middle East, China, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

The main products to the European Union are French beans, snow peas and sugar snaps, broccoli, herbs, and spices and avocados, among others. Kenya exports vegetables, herbs and spices, avocados and mangoes to the Middle East market.

Kenya Becomes an Avocado Powerhouse in Africa Overtaking South Africa

What Are The Best Fresh Produce (Fruits and Veggies) Should Kenya

Fruits – Hass Avocados, passion fruits, pawpaw, oranges, mangoes, strawberry and apples. Contact Oxfarm.co.ke

Vegetables – snow peas, broccoli, French beans, carrots, garden peas, salad onions, leeks and cucumber.

Herbs and Spices: Basil, thyme, coriander, parsley, mint and chives

Nevertheless, All the above products grow under specific agro-ecological zones and farmers should make sure that they grow the crops in their required zones.

 

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Can poultry farming make you enough money to quit your job?

How many of you dream of becoming their own boss? What about considering poultry farming? Many of you are worried whether they will still make as much money as they do while employed. Take for example a poultry farmer in Nyeri, Mr Muturi. Mr Muturi a trained salesperson quit his job in 2013 and he is now making millions.

Muturi who worked with an established company in Nairobi told Oxfarm how his peers laughed him off after he told them that he was quitting to start poultry farming. “my friend, are you insane?” One of his friend asked him; Muturi recalls. To his friends, this was a huge gamble but never the less he was convinced that the time was ripe for him to go into self-employment.

His desire to be his own boss saw him become one of the most successful poultry farmer in Nyeri.

As he was narrating his story, Muturi remembered how he started five years ago with just a small capital. He didn’t any formal training on poultry farming, but he decided to give it a short.

With just 20,000, he embarked on a journey. This came after he has done a market study and realized that most of Kenyan traders who sell chicken products import them from Uganda and Tanzania. He knew there was money in this kind of business and he had to try no matter what. So Muturi bought 100, 1-day old chicks and some feeds. The rest as they say is history.

What you Need to Make Money from Poultry Farming

Nevertheless, Muturi notes that you should be careful if you want to make money through poultry farming and you should do the following few things;

  • Housing system:

According to Muturi, this is a very critical factor to consider, regardless of the number of birds, housing can make or destroy your success in poultry farming. If you successfully construct a good housing system, then more than 40% of your problems are solved. Note that housing is the second most expensive thing in poultry farming after feeds.

  • Feeds and feeding:

Before you kick up the project, you need to conduct a feasibility study which will go a long way in helping you achieve your goals and succeed. Feeds and feeding carries a big weight in poultry farming and enough plans should be put I place. One can choose between producing feeds or buying from distributors. Proper feeding makes the birds grow well and to a larger extend their health is secured.

According to Muturi who produces his own feeds, making your own will cut the cots by almost 50%. However, he notes that new farmers should wait until they break through to produce their own food.

Profitable poultry farming and production in Kenya

  • Record keeping:

This is also another vital factor towards success. A proper book-keeping will foster your poultry business development, it will help you determine your success or failures and where change is required. Always keep a proper record for your poultry farm in order to increase your production level always.

  • Changes and differences:

You need to be sensitive to changes and differences in your poultry farm, which includes the growth, feeding, their droppings, the laying capacities, number of birds, sound amongst others.

This will help you as a farmer to be sensitive to changes in the system. For instances: when layers are about to start laying, they makes a lot of noise, feeding rate and body weight increases, and sometimes when there is disease outbreak you can quickly take note of this happenings by their droppings, if it changes from what it use to be when they are healthy then something is wrong, you can call on your vet doctor for inspection. Be sensitive to regular changes in your poultry farm always.

  • Types of birds:

This is another important factor you should consider in a poultry farming business what are the types of birds you want to raise? Chicken? (Layers or Broilers as applicable to other birds) Turkey? Goose? Duck? You should source for quality chicks from breeders. First generation chicks f1 are the best. Only source chicks from reputable breeders.

  • Areas of concentration:

This is a very important factor to consider in a poultry farming business. Do you want to keep them for: Egg production, meat production, breeding (hatching of eggs into chicks), feed processing and production, packaging of poultry products, marketing and lots more?

  • Capital:

Capital is one of the major factor that determine what happens and what goes on in the system. Capital is the fund (total amount of money you are investing into a business) the main reason why poultry needs enough fund is that you can’t be managing poultry birds you have to provide the best for them in order for you to get the required products at the end of your production.

  • Poultry Equipment and facilities:

It is very important to get adequate equipment ready and set before starting a poultry farm so that you don’t get stocked on the way. Some of the necessary equipment includes:

  • Feeders and drinkers,
  • egg trays
  • heat source,
  • waste disposal,
  • incubator,
  • culling cage (for keeping sick birds),
  • clean water, and
  • feeds,

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  • Poultry location:

Poultry farming should be conducted in a place where the smell cannot affect people living around them and disposal of waste is easy, actually you can run a poultry farm at home as well in your backyard but in a situation where you are considering thousands of birds, try and locate the house in an environment with less population of people and settlement so that you can run your business without any interference and disturbance .

If you look into the above factors and keep your eyes open, you just like Muturi can make money in this business. Be your own boss.

Future billionaires will be farmers!

 

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How to carry out market research before you embark on any agricultural venture

Why Market research matters

Many upcoming farmers in Kenya make a mistake of planning their facility and learning to grow but neglect a major factor that defines their success; demand. As a small scale farmer, your greatest advantage could be your ability to satisfy demand in a local, personal way. You therefore need to conduct market research.

NB: If demand doesn’t exist, there goes your business feasibility! Try something else.

For you to understand demand, market research is critical. Market research is the process of attaining relevant information on the structure and needs of market to see if your product can match the market.

Conducting market research is one of the steps to starting a farm. It consists of two major parts: general market research and local market research. Once farmers have the information, they can match their markets to their production and use it in financial planning.

Starting with a big picture then honing in on your specific area helps you to gain an accurate view of the market, and aligning the market with your production allows you to make choices that will play out well in the future. Conduct demographic overview and then the small picture.

Strengthen your demographic overview with information on local markets. Canvass and conduct interviews. You will get info from two sources; people in charge of such markets (managers, farmers market e.t.c). The information you gather will help you with information like:

  • How many customers does the market serve on a daily basis?
  • What is the average purchase size?
  • What are the most popular products?

There is no such thing as too much information here (unless it annoys the source of the information).

The second source of specific market information is the consumers themselves. The key information here is what current customers of the market want to be different. You are going for this information because as an upstart farmer you are in perfect position to meet such desires. You can offer better services than your competitors are giving.

You are going to be looking for answers such as:

  • What does my ideal customer group want to see? Something local, organic, cheap?
  • What is the main priority of my customers?
  • What are my customers unhappy about that I can solve for them?
  • What thought processes do my customers use to buy?

Is it better to target your ideal customers or your most realistic customers? Shoot for ideal consumers at first. When you are small you need an army of advocates. Build markets on a target group of customers so that all of your customers become your advocates that go out and sell your produce for you.

Take down information in a way that makes it easy for you to use. Maybe this means going out with a clipboard and a pen, or maybe it means using a tablet.

This is going to be important information not just for the present but also for the future and for other parts of your business as you decide on marketing strategies, content, and how to emphasize the benefits of your produce.

Schedule your market options with your production

After you are done with canvassing, you will probably have several good markets to choose from. One major deciding factor will be how the market will line up with your production. Before market makes you crazy you need to compare the following factors:

  • Production Capabilities – Use the production estimates guide and the crop preferences of your target consumers to estimate how much produce you’ll be putting out. Leave a bit of a cushion in case of pest damage, scheduling mistakes, etc.
  • Pricing and margins. Estimate the pricing your consumers will accept and how much of a margin you will need to take to stay in business. Information on pricing can be found in a few different places.
  • Cost of serving the market. Some markets are more costly for you to serve than others. Note the cost of time and labor that you put into the market, including deliveries, maintenance of displays, etc.
  • Supply and demand. Can you supply a signification portion of the demand for this market? And can the market absorb a significant portion of your production? If you only function in a very small portion of the market or if the market only functions in a very small portion of your operation, then it might not be worth the cost of serving.

All told, the above information will help you understand how well suited you are for the market. Even though you are already selling to a market, understanding it will help you move forward and make decisions, therefore it’s never too late to conduct market research. Start it today!!

 

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thorn melon farming in Kenya: Farmers smiling all the way to the bank

Thorn melon, commonly known as Kiwano is a strange looking fruit that originated from South Africa and has of late been introduced to other parts of the world. It picked its name  Kiwano from Kiwi in New Zealand  due to its consistency and appearance to kiwi. However, this fruit is not biologically linked to kiwi and is actually closer in nutritive and evolutionary terms to cucumber and zucchini.

The name “thorned melon” comes from the fruit’s unusual appearance, as the outer layer of orange or gold skin is covered in small spikes. The inside of the fruit does have the gelatinous appearance of a kiwi, but the inner layer of fruit pulp is a culinary ingredient. The leaves and roots are also used for various applications, but the fruit is the most highly prized. Its seeds contain high concentrations of beneficial nutrients and organic compounds that make the fruit so healthy.

A number of Kenyans have embraced this fruit as it is believed to lower blood pressure and sugar level. Its therefore a money maker fruit and a number of farmers have benefited from it. According to Mureithi a farmer in Kiambu, kiwano sells between 25 and Ksh 30. He however notes that market fluctuates depending on supply. When there is high demand a kilo of thorn melon goes fo Sh 90 and when the demand is low it goes below to Ksh 70.

Benefits Of Planting Thorn Melon

The healthy benefits are overwhelming as highlighted below. For those interested in making money, this is why you should plant it:

  1. it’s a drought resistant plant and does not require a lot of water
  2. its labor friendly. Even when unattended it will still yield
  3. One plant can yield between 30 to 40 or more depending on care
  4. The market is readily available. One peace goes for between 10 bob to 30 bob depending on where and it’s a hot cake for those who understands the benefits
  5. it can thrive in almost all areas

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How Thorn Melon Is Used Across The World

  • The green jelly-like flesh can be taken with little sugar, or with exotic fruit salad. It can also be utilised like an alternative to vinegar in salads.
  • The fruits are also used for ornamental purposes.
  • Used in beverages and at times spooned over desserts, ice creams and yoghurts to have an exceptional taste.
  • Its leaves are medicinal and are often served cooked as the heat is said to slightly lessen the bitterness in the greens.
  • When cooking, the bitter melon leaves are added last to inhibit an overly bitter taste and can be served with rice. The leaves can also be used in curries, fries and soups.
  • The leaves are at times mixed with maize or corn meal and can also be used to make a medicinal tea. Younger leaves which have a milder flavour and delicate texture can be used in salads.
  • In some countries, the leaves are used as an anti-viral for measles and malaria, diabetes, hypertension and to aid in childbirth.
  • In some cultures, various parts of the bitter melon plant, including the leaves, are used as a contraceptive as they have been shown to have an anti-fertility effect in both males and females.
  • Boiled roots are also used to treat gonorrhoea in some cultures, according to research.

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Health Benefits of Thorn Melon

Thorn melon has many benefits as discussed below:-

Weight Loss

Considering that this fruit is more than 80% water, it has the ability to fill you up without packing on any pounds. People trying to lose weight without feeling hungry all the time often reach for a kiwano to stave off hunger pangs. The high concentration of nutrients also keeps your body nutrient-rich, even though the fruit is low in calories and fats.

Antioxidant Properties

There are high levels of alpha-tocopherol found in kiwano, which is a potent antioxidant form of vitamin E. This is very important for the health of nerves and blood vessels, while it also seeks out and neutralizes free radicals, the harmful byproducts of cellular metabolism that can cause everything from heart diseases to cancer.

Eye Care

The significant levels of vitamin A found in kiwano make it an important booster for vision health. Vitamin A is a type of carotenoid, which acts as an antioxidant for the eye, eliminating free radicals that can cause macular degeneration, while also slowing down or preventing the development of cataracts.

Improves Cognitive Function

Although different nutrients can positively affect the brain, vitamin E is specifically linked to slowing the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. The high levels of tocopherol variations in kiwano make it a favorite amongst all who want to keep their minds fresh.

Boosts Metabolism

Zinc is a mineral that is often overlooked in human health, but it plays a key role in metabolism and producing protein, which is necessary for wound healing and repair of organs, tissues, blood vessels, and cells. The high content of vitamin C is a perfect complement to the zinc found in kiwano, as ascorbic acid is a key component of collagen, which is another key material in repair and growth.

Slows Aging

Between vitamin A, C, natural antioxidants, and abundant organic compounds, kiwano is wonderful for staying young, both inside and out. It is known to protect the integrity of the skin and reduce age spots and wrinkles, in addition to lessening the appearance of scars and blemishes. These important nutrients keep the body younger by preventing the onset of chronic diseases through their intense antioxidant activity.

Relieves Stress & Anxiety

Research has connected some of the organic compounds in kiwano with the regulation of hormones, particularly adrenaline and other stress hormones. If you suffer from chronic stress or feel anxious, eating some kiwano can quickly ease your mind and get your body back to a calm, relaxed state.

Aids in Digestion

The high fiber content in kiwano makes it an ideal digestive aid. Dietary fiber helps to stimulate peristaltic motion and clear out the gastrointestinal tract, keeping your bowel movements regular and preventing cramping, bloating, constipation, and serious conditions like gastric ulcers or colon cancer. Dietary fiber is also a key element of heart health, as it helps to regulate the level of cholesterol in the body; it even helps to regulate insulin receptors, thereby preventing or managing diabetes.

Increases Bone Strength

Kiwanos are also turned to for their high mineral content, particularly for calcium, in order to boost bone strength and prevent the onset of osteoporosis.  While the other minerals in kiwano, including zinc, are important for bone development, growth, repair, and integrity, calcium is the most desirable mineral for our bone health.

 

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Causes of Scarring Of Citrus Fruits such as Oranges and Tangerines

Fruit farming in Kenya is gaining momentum day by day. The most common fruits grown in Kenya include oranges, tangerines, mangoes, avocados, bananas as well as passion. Growing your own oranges at home is fun and money making at times. Whether growing outdoors or in containers, watching the trees flower and begin to produce fruit is quite exciting. If you are growing fruits commercially, you may have noticed that the market requires clean and good-looking fruits. However, this is sometimes not possible as your citrus fruits might be scarred or marked.

Identifying Citrus Fruit Scarring

Citrus fruit scarring is the result of damage done to the rind and/or flesh of the fruit while growing. Scarring of citrus fruit can occur for a variety of reasons, and when grown commercially, will often dictate which product (e.g. fresh eating, juice, etc.) the fruit will be used. Scars on citrus fruits are sometimes only cosmetic. However, in many cases, damage can be more severe and even cause the fruit to begin rotting. While some causes of scarring are preventable, others will need more care and attention to resolve.

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Causes of Scars on Citrus Fruits

There are different ways in which citrus fruits are scarred. The most common cause of scarring is the damage caused by insects. Since various insects may attack citrus fruits, proper identification is a key step in addressing the problem. To identify which insect may have caused damage to your fruit, take a close look at the scarring and look for any specific pattern or shape. The size, shape, and type of scar may provide key information as you begin to determine the culprit.

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Some common pests include: Citrus thrips, Citrus cutworm, Citrus Peelminer, Citrus rust mite, Forktail bush, katydid Potato leafhopper, Brown garden snails, and Caterpillars.

However, scarring may also be caused by weather condiions, such as hail or wind. Windy conditions may have caused developing fruit to rub or scratch again tree branches. These types of scars likely occur only on the surface of the fruit and, generally, do not compromise its quality. Lastly, chemical and equipment damage are sources of citrus fruit scarring that may need consideration. While uncommon in the home garden, large citrus operations may have issues with phytotoxicity, or chemical burn, among treated trees.
Now that you know about scarring in citrus fruits, don’t hesitate to invest in fruit farming. Contact us today for farm management, seedlings or consultancy.

 

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What Causes Tomatoes To Split And How do you Prevent Tomato Cracking

Tomato farming in Kenya is a common practice among many farmers. This is because everyone loves tomatoes. They are great in cooking, salads and sauces and even make a great gift. However, with these beautiful and tasty beauties comes a problem. Sometimes, right in the middle of thinking everything is alright with your tomatoes, you will find splitting tomatoes or tomato cracking. Farmers in Kenya have made losses through tomato cracking and we want to help you prevent it.

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 What causes tomatoes to split?

Fluctuation of temperatures sometimes can cause problems for newly growing tomato transplants. It is therefore very crucial to mulch your plants, either with organic mulch such as straws, wood chips or plastic. The mulch will conserve water and also prevent disease from spreading. When it comes to mulch and tomatoes, plastic mulch has shown to be the best mulch to help prevent tomato cracking. Sometimes, if you have a lot of rain after a spell of really dry weather, you’ll find splitting tomatoes on your tomato plants. A split tomato problem is really caused by lack of water. If you take away water, the tomatoes cannot stay lush and juicy, and the skin will crack just as your skin cracks if you do not have enough moisture. And when the tomatoes receive a large amount of water quickly after this, they fill with water and the skin bursts at the cracks like an overfilled water balloon.

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How to Prevent Tomato Cracking

This cracking problem in tomato is more than just an aesthetic problem. You will realize that through these cracks bacteria and fungus can be introduced into the fruit and cause them to rot or provide an easy access to pests. For you to prevent splitting in tomatoes, you will have to water your tomato plants once a week with about 1-2 inches of water. To keep tomato cracking to a minimum, be sure to keep your tomato plants watered evenly on a regular basis. Protect them from a severe drought in your absence by setting up a watering system on a timer. This way you can water your farm when you aren’t home to do it and you won’t have to deal with severe tomato cracking. It’s as easy as that to solve a split tomato problem. Finally, be sure to fertilize your tomatoes according to the instructions on your tomato fertilizer. Fertilizer or manure is important to keep the soil healthy enough to help your plants produce as many tomatoes as possible. If you follow these rules, soon enough you will have plenty of unsplit tomatoes to enjoy and to sell.

 

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Does playing “Music for plants” accelerate Growth?

In the recent past we have heard that playing music help them grow faster. The question we ask rather is, can plants hear sounds? Do plants love music? Experts have expressed several concerns and output on their research regarding this topic.

Can Playing Music Accelerate Plant Growth?

Well, many studies have shown that playing music for plants really does promote faster and healthier growth. An Indian botanist in 1962, conducted several tests on music and plant growth. His conclusion was that certain plants grew 20 percent in height when exposed to music, with a significantly greater growth in biomass. In his findings, he found similar results for agricultural crops such as peanuts, rice and tobacco when played music through speakers placed around the field. Another researcher, a Colorado greenhouse owner experimented with different types of plants and various genres of music. She found that plants under rock music deteriorated quickly and died within a few weeks, while plants thrived when exposed to classical music.

Another one in Illinois was unconvinced that plants respond positively to music and hence engaged in a number of highly controlled greenhouse experiments. Amazingly, he discovered that corn and soy plants exposed to music were greener and thicker with suggestively larger yield. A group of researchers from Canadian university discovered that harvest yield of wheat crops nearly doubled when exposed to high frequency vibrations.

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How does playing Music for plants affect Growth?

Research has found that it isn’t so much about the ‘sounds’ of the music, but more to do with the vibrations created by the sound waves. The vibrations, in simple terms produce movement in the plant cells, stimulating the plant to produce more nutrients. If the plants fail to respond to rock music, it is not because they “hate” rock and “like” classical better. However, it is because the vibrations produced by hard loud rock music create greater pressure that is not conducive to plant growth.

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Music vs Care

University of California researchers are however not so quick to jump into conclusions about the effects of music on plant growth. They argue that so far there is no conclusive scientific evidence proving that playing music for plants helps them grow, and more research need to be conducted to verify such claims. They feel that more scientific experiments are required with rigorous control over growth factors such as water, light and soil composition.

Remarkably, they suggest that plants that are exposed to music may thrive well because they are given top-level care and special attention.

 

 

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Benefits of Cow Manure Fertilizer and how to compost it

Kenya is an agricultural hub and the use of cow manure in the Shamba is a common thing in the rural areas. This type of fertilizer is not as rich in nitrogen compared to other types, however when fresh it contains high levels of ammonia which can burn plants if applied when fresh. On the other hand, composted cow manure can provide many benefits to the garden.

Components of cow dung manure

Cow dung/cattle manure is basically made of digested grass and grain. Cow dung contains high concentrations of organic materials that are rich in nutrients. It contains about 3 percent nitrogen, 2 percent phosphorus, and 1 percent potassium (3-2-1 NPK). Additionally, cow dung contains high levels of ammonia and possibly dangerous pathogens. Consequently, it is usually recommended that it be composted before using it as a form of fertilizer.

In addition, cow manure contains high levels of ammonia and potentially dangerous pathogens. For this reason, it’s usually recommended that it be aged or composted prior to its use as cow manure fertilizer.

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Advantages of Cow Manure Compost

Cow dung manure has many benefits. Apart from eliminating harmful ammonia gas and pathogens such as E. coli, composted cow manure removes weed seeds and adds generous amounts of organic matter to farmer’s soil. By mixing this compost into the soil, you can improve its moisture-holding capacity. This allows you to water less frequently, as the roots of plants can use the additional water and nutrients whenever needed. In addition, cow dung compost manure will enhance aeration, as well as help break up compacted soils. Composted cow manure also contains beneficial bacteria, which convert nutrients into easily accessible forms, so they can be slowly released without burning tender plant roots. Composting cow manure also produces about a third less greenhouse gases, making it environmentally friendly.

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How to compost cow dung into manure

Composted cow manure fertilizer makes an excellent growing medium for garden plants. When turned into compost and fed to plants and vegetables, cow manure becomes a nutrient-rich fertilizer. It can be mixed into the soil or used as top dressing. Most composting bins or piles are located within easy reach of the garden. Heavy manures, like that of cows, should be mixed with lighter materials, such as straw or hay, in addition to the usual organic substances from vegetable matter, garden debris, etc. Small amounts of lime or ash may also be added.

A crucial consideration when making compost manure is the size of your pile. If the pile is too small, it will not provide enough heat required for the composting process. On the other hand, if the pile is too big it may not get enough air. Therefore, it is necessary to keep on turning your pile every now and then. Composted cow manure adds momentous amounts of organic material to the soil. You can improve the overall health of your soil if you add cow manure fertilizer that in turn will help you produce healthy, vigorous plants.

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Pawpaw Farming in Kenya: How to choose the right variety for your area

Pawpaw farming is delicate, and it requires one to be sure of the best variety that does well in his/her area. There are different pawpaw crops grown today but we will only filter he few important ones in Kenya.

• Honey dew pawpaw variety

This variety originated in India where it is known as Madhu Bindu. It is gynodioecious (some trees have female flowers only and others have hermaphrodite flowers only) in nature and semi-dwarf growing to a height of about 2 meters. On average, its fruits weighs about 1.5 to 2kg and they are dark in clour with some ridging on the surface. Fruits from hermaphrodite trees are elongated and oval while those from female trees are ovoid. The fruit pulp is yellow in colour. This variety yields about 70 kg per tree (about 35 fruits).

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• Pusa variety

The Pusa variety just like the solo variety has many strains developed from it. The Pusa Dwarf pawpaw is a dioecious variety (the males and females are separate plants). The trees are dwarf plants that produce medium-sized oval fruits that weigh 1 to 2 kg. The plant starts bearing fruits from 25 to 30 cm above-ground level and is comparatively drought hardy. This variety is very suitable for high-density planting hence best for backyard gardening.

The Pusa Giant variety has plants that grow very fast, are sturdy and tolerant to strong wind. The tree grows to a height of 4.7 to 6 m. This variety is also a dioecious variety with big-sized fruits of between 2.5 and 3 kg. Its fruits are very suitable for canning.

Pusa Majesty is a gynodioecious variety (the plants are either female or hermaphroditic). This variety is tolerant to viral diseases and root knot nematodes. It is suitable for papain production and is comparable to C0.2 variety for papain yield. The fruits are medium-sized weighing between 1 and 1.5 kg, have a round shape and a relatively high quality in terms of self-life. It starts fruiting about 5 months after planting.

Pusa Nanha also known as Mutant Dwarf is dioecious variety, dwarf and precocious. Its fruiting starts at a height of 40 cm within 239 days of planting (approximately 8 months). The tree attains a total height of about 130 cm. The fruits are medium to small with an oval shape and a red to orange flesh that is 3.5 cm.

Pusa Delicious is another gynodioecious variety with medium to tall plants. It starts yielding 8 months after planting and has good quality fruits. The fruit is medium-sized weighing between 1 and 2 kg. They have a deep orange flesh having with excellent flavour. It is grown as a table purpose variety and is also very high yielding.

• The Solo variety

The Solo variety is valued for its productivity, uniform fruit shape and size, and excellent fruit quality. Most of the trees of this variety are hermaphrodite which means the flowers are self-pollinated which produces uniform fruits. The solo fruit is round and shallowly furrowed in female plants and pear-shaped in bisexual plants. The fruits have a yellow-orange pulp and weigh between 0.5 to 1kg.

The main Solo variety has been used to develop other varieties such as

The Sunset Solo is a small to medium-sized, pear-shaped fruit. It has an Orange-red skin and flesh which is very sweet. Its tree is a dwarf but high yielding plant that was developed at the University of Hawaii.

The Vista Solo variety is a medium to large fruit depending on climate. Its fruit has a yellow skin and orange to yellow-orange flesh. It is hardy, compact and of high quality. This variety needs fairly hot weather to develop sweetness. Its flowers are self-fertilizing. It was developed in Vista, California by Ralph Corwin.

The Sunrise Solo variety is the most popular in Kenya and other countries. It has a reddish-orange firm flesh smooth skin, and a high sugar content that makes it sweet. Its plant grows fast maturing and fruiting about 9 months after transplanting, at a height of about 3 feet. It has a hard flesh compared to most pawpaw varieties hence giving it a longer shelf life. It is for this reason that it is preferred for export. It is also adaptable to many climatic conditions, tolerant to viral diseases and its trees are either female or hermaphrodite hence each tree in a plantation bears fruits.

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• CO-Series

The CO-1 variety is selection from the Ranchi variety done by Tamil Nadu Agricultural University in Coimbatore, India. The plant is a dwarf, producing the first fruit at a height of 60 to 75 cm from the ground level. Its fruits are medium-sized, round and have a smooth greenish-yellow skin. The fruit flesh is orange-yellow, soft but firm. It is moderately juicy with good keeping-quality. The fruit is liked more since is does not have the rather unpleasant papain odour.

The CO-2 variety is a strain purified from a local variety in India at Agricultural College and Research Institute of Coimbatore. It is a dioecious variety with good papain yield of about 4 to 6 g per fruit. Each fruit weighs about 1.5 to 2.0 kg. The fruit contains 75% pulp with a pulp thickness of 3.8cm. Fruits are oblate and large in size with orange coloured flesh that is soft but firm. It is a dual purpose variety for fruits and papain extraction. The yield ranges from 80-90 fruits per tree. The fruits contain 8.93% reducing sugars and 9.01% total sugars. The vitamin C content is 50.8 mg per 100g. The papain yield is 250 to 300 kg per hectare.

The CO-3 is a hybrid derivative of the cross between CO.2 (female parent) and Sunrise Solo (male parent). It is a gynodioecious type with most flowers being hermaphroditic. It is suitable as a table variety. The fruits are medium sized with red flesh. The mean fruit weight is 0.5 to 0.8kg. Fruits are pyriform in shape and they exhibit all the desirable characteristics of the Sunrise Solo Variety. The tree yields 90 to 120 fruits in a year.

The CO-4 variety is a hybrid derivative of the cross between CO.1 (female parent) and Washington (male parent). Fruits are medium sized weighing 1.2 to 1.5kg. It is a dioecious type. The fruits have a flesh that is yellow with purple tinge. The tree has purple petiole and stem. This variety is suitable for home gardens. The tree yields 80-90 fruits per annum.

The CO-5 variety is a selection from Washington type. It is a dioecious type suitable exclusively for papain production giving 50-60g of wet papain (about 14.45 g of dry papain) per fruit. It is suitable for growing in all seasons and all soils with good drainage. It yields 75-80 fruits per tree with an average yield of 1500-1600kg of dry papain per hectare. Each fruit weighs about 1.5 to 2.0kg.

The CO-6 is a selection from a giant papaya. The plants are dwarf and dioecious. First harvest can be had in 8 months after planting. It is suitable for papain production giving 7.5 to 8.0g of dry papain per fruit. It is also used for table purpose. It yields 80 to 100 fruits per tree annually. The fruits are medium sized each weighing 2kg with yellow flesh.

The CO-7 is a gynodioecious variety in nature developed through multiple crosses and purified for over four years. The parents are Pusa Delicious, CO-3, CP-75 and Coorg Honey Dew. It is superior to CO-3 papaya in many aspects. The first bearing height is about 52.2 cm. It produces 65-70 fruits per tree annually with a total average yield of about 340.9t/ha, which is 45.96% more than CO-3. The fruits are oblong in shape with an attractive and firm red flesh. The crop has an economic duration of 21 months. There are no serious insect pests. It is susceptible to foot rot, collar rot and powdery mildew like other papaya varieties. It can be grown in plains as well as up to an altitude of 1000m above MSL.

• The CO-8 variety is a dioecious strain derived through improvement of CO-2. It has a red pulp and is suitable for dessert, papain production and for and processing and canning. The crop has a production period of 2 years with an average yield of 200 to 230 tonnes per hectare.

• Washington variety

This is an improved pawpaw variety grown mainly for table purpose. The trees are fairly vigorous with tall stems, purple rings, dark purple petiole growing darker towards the lamina and yellow deep flowers. The male and female plants are separate. They produce medium to large size fruits of about 1 to 1.5 kg in weight. The fruits have an ovate to oblong shape having a distinct purple colour ring at its top connected with the fruit stalk. The pulp is yellow-red, very sweet with an agreeable flavour of fine consistency and free from the disagreeable papain odour, making it a most popular variety. The fruits have few seeds and good keeping quality.

• Taiwan  pawpaw variety

• While there are quite a number of strains of the Taiwan pawpaw variety, the hybrid Red Lady is the most popular. This strain is an early and very productive fruiter. It is best suited for gardening and can be grown both in the tropical and higher latitude lands. It starts flowering after about 70 days from planting. It sets fruits at a height of about 60 to 80 cm and produces large fruits of an average weight of 2 kg. Each tree produces more than 30 fruits per season. The Red Lady is a self-fertile hybrid whose fruits have an orange-red pulp that is sweet and juicy when ripe. The fruits are rich in vitamins A, C and other nutrients. You will notice a sweet, delicious aroma when it is fully ripe.

If you are in need of pawpaw seeds or seedlings contact us and we will guide you!.

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Frequently Asked questions about Hass Avocado Farming in Kenya

Hass Avocado

Hass Avocado farming in Kenya is a topic that we all know it’s not going to end soon. Farmers and interested farmers have been asking us questions about hass avocado farming and the way to go about it. Well we are your eyes and ears, we will always give you information that will guide you in making those decisions that are difficult to make when it comes to farming. We are your partner when it comes to fruit farming and more specifically hass avocado farming. Here are some of your questions that we have tried to answer;

1.    Where do I get Hass Avocado Seedlings?

This is a question that is so common in Kenya. Over the past years, different companies as well as individuals have invested heavily in the business of selling seedlings. The main reason is because hass avocado fruit demand is rising day by day, hence the demand for seedlings. However, how can a farmer know whether the seedling is of hass variety and not fuerte or any other variety? Well I will tell you frankly that it is not simple, that’s why I would encourage farmers not to buy seedlings by the road side but rather consult and buy from certified groups. If you want genuine Hass Avocado seedlings buy here.

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2.    Where do I get Market for my Hass Avocado Fruits?

I will tell you in surety that, hass avocado market is overwhelming. If you interact with exporters such as Kakuzi you will learn that Kenyan hass avocado is loved and we can never satisfy the market even if we all planted avocado. Avocado is a fruit (healthy indeed) and as you might have learnt, due to many lifestyle diseases, people are urged to eat healthy. Our bodies requires fats but cholesterol free. Avocado fruit contain both vitamins and fats that are essential and healthy and are cholesterol free.

It is for the above reasons that you should not worry about market. Market will always be there, so get out there and plant an avocado today.

3.    Who are the main buyers of hass from farmers?

In this field, we have different players who buy directly from farmers. There are companies that buy avocado to process beauty products as well as oil. Others export the fruits just the way it is harvested from the farm. Therefore, there are as many buyers and exporters but just to mention a few, the biggest buyers are Kakuzi, Selina Wamucii, Olivado, Sasini, Mt Kenya Fresh Avocados e.t.c. What matters is quantity and quality, how many tonnes of hass can they get from you? How well have you taken care of them?

4.    What Do Exporters Expect From Hass Avocado Farmers?

Farmers must get it right when it comes to export. If you are planning on going commercial about hass avocado, you must get the right variety of seedlings and the requires fruit sizes. Export market requires quality produce. Export market demands for fruits of certain shapes and sizes. Buyers at the export market prefer size 12 fruits with dry matter content of 25%. In additional farmers should wait for the right time to pick the fruits and should never pick them before they are mature.

5.    Is My Area Suitable for Hass Avocado Farming?

Kenya is one of the few countries that enjoys equatorial climate. Most counties in Kenya receive a minimum of two rainy season. Avocados are highly adapted to different rainfall conditions; however, the rain should be an average of 1,000–1,600mm per annum and well-distributed throughout the year. Counties in central Kenya, Eastern, Central rift valley, Lower Nyanza and all western Kenya counties have the best climatic conditions for hass-Avocado cultivation. In Eastern Kenya, avocados do well in certain pockets such as Kang’undo, Mua Hills, Kathiani (Iveti hills), parts of Mbooni, all in Machakos County, and the high potential areas of the larger Embu and Meru counties. Other areas include; Kisii, Nyamira, Kakamega, Bungoma, Transzoia, Nakuru, Uasingishu, Narok Bomet and some parts of Laikipia.

6.    Can I inter-crop Hass Avocados with other Crops?

As inter-cropping provides extra income, farmers can choose to have any kind of vegetable or pulse crops in the inter space. These crops may fix the nitrogen and suppress the weeds and increase the soil fertility. Only precaution should be taken care to grow the crops little far from an avocado plant. Therefore, Avocado orchards may be inter-cropped with other crops such as beans, peas, kale, or cabbage during the first 3-5 years to get economic returns from the land before the trees start bearing or produce economic returns.

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7.    How do I control pests and diseases in my avocado farm?

Biological pest control is by far the better option for avocado pests, as the incorrect use of agrochemicals on avocado trees could see minor pests develop into major economic risks. It is good to note that avocado orchards enjoy natural enemies (predators and parasites) that are able to maintain a biological balance. Cultural control is also effective depending on the level of infestation. When both the cultural and the biological control system are not working, selective use of chemical insecticides to control pests and diseases is necessary. This approach is referred to as IPM.

When you see diseases on the tree the damage is done. Early detection is a great plus. Anthracnose & collectrotrichum-On hass the symptoms will be seen as a bronzing, similar to mite damage on other crops, but has a small lesion and is described as “pepper spot”. These diseases are most likely to occur during the wet conditions. When the fruit is small, i.e. smaller than pegion egg size, it is not susceptible. Fruits bigger than this size is susceptible to infection at any time under favorable climatic conditions for the fungus.

8.    Should I Plant Two Different Varieties Of Avocados E.G Hass And Fuerte?

The type of avocado cultivars planted in an orchard will contribute to the expected yield. There are two types of avocado that flower at different times of the year (type A and type B). Mix both types in an orchard so that type A pollinates type B and vice visa. Hence cross pollination leads to higher yields than self-pollination. The presence of bee hives within the orchard is recommended as bees are the main pollinators of avocado. One should avoid applying chemicals that are harmful to bees.

9.    How Can I Avoid Flowers Abortion From My Hass Avocado Tree?

Avocado trees naturally experience a fairly large degree of fruit drop and there’s nothing you can or should do about this. Often, less than 1 percent of the avocado tree’s flowers will end up growing into mature fruit. Excellent cultural care practices during the flowering and fruiting stages helps to maintain an acceptable level of fruit drop.