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Thinking Of Farming Business? Think Mushroom Farming

As you might have noticed, we have been organizing mushroom farming training tours now and then. This has been inspired by the changing eating patterns of Kenyans and the need for more agribusiness ideas.

As young agriprenuers, we can firmly tell you that mushroom farming is the best agribusiness to think of especially if you are young and with inadequate farming space.

The fungi crop has numerous nutritional and medicinal benefits,  the demand for mushrooms is huge unexplored and unexploited, and the market offers unprecedented access to wealth and financial freedom. The Capital and daily expenditure are also affordable compared to other conventional crops.

Mushrooms contain more protein than fish or chicken, all Vitamins except A and D. Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorus Zinc and Iron. They also contain a number of medicinal benefits, including lowering high blood pressure/hypertension, strengthening of weak bones, teeth and nails due to their high content in calcium. Mushrooms also heal impotency, improve cerebral development in children between the ages of 0 and 3, boost immunity, detoxify the body therefore preventing terminal diseases like colon cancer and improve fertility.

Nevertheless, it is the financial benefits of growing mushrooms that are breathtaking. For instance, a kilo of Oyster Mushrooms cost Ksh 800. In a small room of 5 meters by 5 meters, a small scale farmer can easily harvest a produce of 10 kilos of mushrooms weekly, which adds up to Ksh8,000 and Ksh32,000 monthly. Very few crops can fetch you this much.

In the same house of 5 by 5 meters, production can easily be doubled, tripled or quadrupled. Therefore, bringing in an income of Ksh64,000, Ksh96,000 and Ksh128,000 respectively. From what is known by many mushrooms continuously sprout for a period of 3 months from the time the harvesting begins.

However, the most productive months are the first two. Unlike conventional crops, mushrooms are planted in fresh pasteurized organic substances known as substrate. These can be one or a combination of the following, Sugar Cane baggasse, Maize Stovers cut in minute pieces, Wheat Straw, Ground Nut Shells, crushed Maize cobs, Rice Husks and Molasses.

The pasteurization of these substances is carried out through boiling of steaming the substrate. Pasteurization eliminates all harmful organisms that deter mushroom production, while maintaining the nutritional content. After the substrate cools down, it is then mixed with mushroom seed called Spawn in a process called inoculation.

The planted substrate is then packed in several transparent polythene bags after holes are created in them. The polythene bags are then hung up in the mushroom house. A month and a half after the planting process, mushrooms begin sprouting.

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Where Does One Get Mushroom Market In Kenya?

When on thinks of farming, what comes of our minds, is where will I get market for my produce?

Traditionally, hotels offer a simple market that constantly demand mushrooms. For a first-time supplier, hotels often demand packaged samples of the product. After the first impression, they then require the signing of an agreement that bounds the client to reliably supply them with their required amount of mushrooms.

The number of hotels that demand mushrooms are staggering, 800 beach hotels along the coast of Kenya, hotels in all the major cities and towns. Several Pizza outlets around the country and several restaurants and hospitals.

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Then there are the unlimited individual customers in the social media that offer a consistent and reliable clientele. The beauty of the social media is simple, a supplier can repeatedly post pictures of the packaged mushroom product on the most popular farmers groups in Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and What’s app. Together with the Nutritional and Medicinal benefits and the contacts.

Keep checking for our next training on how to go about mushroom farming in Kenya. We always say that farmers come first, we lead while others follow.

 

 

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How to earn a living from Watermelon farming in Kenya

Watermelon farming is taking shape in Kenya as the fruit is being embraced by most Kenyans. In almost every town, you will find some fruit vendors with watermelons. Don’t ask yourself why, they are fetching good prices. Imagine a piece of watermelon selling at Ksh 20, how many pieces does a big watermelon have? To answer your question, a single melon can have as many pieces as 20, selling @Ksh 20 this will amount to Ksh 400.

At farm gate, a farmer can get good returns for as high as Ksh 100. What matters is how you handle the watermelons when harvesting and while transporting to the market. If not properly handled, spoilt watermelons will indeed reduce your income. The cost of production is estimated at Sh100,000 per acre.

Watermelon is planted directly from seeds. Although other people prefer planting them on nursery then transferring the later. It all comes to your own decision.

What are the common Varieties of Watermelons Grown in Kenya

There are several varieties that are suitable in Kenya. They include:

  1. Sukari F1 Hybrid- this averages 7kgs per fruit and is very popular due to its size and sweetness.
  2. Early scarlet F1.
  3. Sugar baby, who fruits average 3-4kgs and crops mature early 62-80days.
  4. Charleston grey variety fruits that average 9kg and is late maturing 85-110 days. It is also the best drought resistant variety.
  5. Pato F1 it’s as sweet as Sukari F1.
  6. Sweet beauty- which it takes 80 days of maturity and has red-flesh.
  7. Golden midget which takes 70days to mature. Bears petite, yellow skinned with pink flesh.

Irrigation

Watermelon requires lots of water and nutrients. Thus a farmer must have a stable source of water and the soil should be rich of nutrients. If not,  a farmer should add organic fertilizer.

Sunlight

While Watermelon requires a lot of water it also needs a lot of sun. It is good to note that watermelons do not cope well with extreme weather conditions. Humid and foggy conditions are the best weather conditions for fungal diseases and this will wipe out all the watermelon in no time. Thus, temperatures of about 20c-25c are the best to grow and ripen watermelons.

PLANTING WATERMELON

Start the water melon seeds in the ground, right where they are supposed to grow. Though some people do transplant them,  it is better to know that they may not adapt well at first after the transplant hence others may die or take time to recover. In order to get it right, put manure to the ground before planting and plough well to make sure they mix well with the soil. Watermelons grow well in soils with alkaline PH.  It is therefore advisable to add lime to the soil so as to maintain the alkaline PH. This should be done at an interval of 3 years.

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Spacing

Spacing of watermelon generally is 1.5m from row to row and 1m from plant to plant.  Watermelon can grow best in hot dry areas under irrigation and rain-fed in marginal areas. Watermelon can also perform well in higher areas during hot season under irrigation. When under irrigation develop a good systematic watering system since fruits become stressed when the pattern changes and this affect the fruit development and spray program.

Remember that watermelons germinate in 7 days and the first fruits are seen from day 30.  It’s believed boron helps the plants to produce sweet fruits.

Taking care of watermelons

  1. Mulching with black plastics will serve multiple purposes: it will warm the soil, hinder weed growth, and keep developing fruits clean.
  2. Watering is very important from planting until fruit begins to form. While melon plants are growing, blooming, and setting fruit, they need 1 to 2 inches of water per week.
  3. Keep the soil always moist but not waterlogged. Water at the vine base in the morning, and try to avoid wetting the leaves and avoid overhead watering. Reduce watering once the fruits are growing. Dry weather produces the sweetest melons.
  4. If you choose to fertilize make sure it delivers more nitrogen than phosphorous and potassium. However after flowering begins use a fertilizer with less nitrogen.
  5. Pruning isn’t necessary, but vine productivity may be improved if you do not allow lateral vines to grow and stick to the main vine. When the plant is young, just cut off the end buds as they form before they become vines. You can also pinch off some blossoms to focus the energy on fewer melons .
  6. Vines produce male and female flowers separately on the same plant. They often begin producing male flowers several weeks before the males appear. Do not be concerned if the male flowers fall off. The female flowers, (which have a swollen bulb at the base) will stay on the vine and bear a fruit.
  7. Blossoms require pollination to set fruit, so be kind to the bees.
  8. As fruit is ripening, prevent rotting by gently lifting it and putting some cardboard or straw between the fruit and the soil.

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Weeding

It’s important to weed the land by removing weeds that compete for water and nutrients with the plant. This can be done the third or the second week after germination using herbicides or jembes.

Pest And Diseases Control.

The major and common diseases of watermelon are the leaf spot, dumping off, powdery mildew and blight. It can also be attacked by Beetles, mites, leaf miners and thrips.

Dumping off is a fungal disease that causes the seed to rot before they germinate.

Spider mites are serious pests of watermelons especially during hot, dry weather and they feed on the plant sap and can defoliate vines in a few weeks. Leaf miners cause injuries to leaves resulting to destruction of leaf tissue.

Thrips are insects which invade flowers and feed on plant juice, they are visible to the naked eye.

Always use recommended fungicides, insecticides and herbicides and this are available in local agrovets.  Always read the labels and follow instructions. This will not only help to protect your plant, but will also protect your health and environment. Apply chemicals using appropriate equipment at the recommended application rate. The labels should provide information on recommended use, ingredients, mode of action, and formulation of the product.

Harvesting

Watermelon’s maturity depends on the variety. As stated above, some species vary from the  other but all fall under a maturity period of 80-100 days. In order to see if the fruit is ready for market turn the fruit around to see if the fruit is having a yellow patch on the side on which its lying on the ground with. If it is difficult to pass your finger nail in the watermelon, it’s well ready for harvest and you can even confirm by cutting one to see if it has matured.  They are ready for harvest if matured. You can also thump it. If the watermelon sounds hollow, its ripe. You can also check on the tendrils. If it’s green, wait. If it’s half dead the watermelon is nearly ripe or ripe.

Farming only requires passion and patience. You can do it!

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Cotton Farming: Why President Uhuru Wants Kenya to grow GMO Cotton

cotton

President Uhuru Kenyatta has asked technocrats to look at the possibility of Kenyans growing genetically modified BT cotton.

If Implemented, Kenya will become the first in East Africa to grow GMOs in open fields, and fourth in Africa after South Africa, Burkina Faso and Sudan.

The launch for commercialization is expected in January 2019, while farmers are likely to plant their first BT cotton seeds in March.

The development follows the recent approval for national performance trials for BT cotton by the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA).

Already, the Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organization (Kalro) has planted the first BT (Bacillus thuringiensis) cotton in open fields for environmental testing in Kibos, Kisumu in the west of the country.

“We expect that in the next seven months we shall have sufficient data from the field trials for scrutiny by the various government agencies including Nema,” said the director of Horticulture Research Institute at Kalro Dr Charles Waturu.

The president instructed the ministries of Health, Agriculture and Trade, Industry and Cooperatives to come up with a quick mechanism for the revival of cotton production, including the possibility of farming BT cotton as part of measures to restore the dwindling sector.

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Agriculture Task Force to Look Into Cotton Farming

At the same time Uhuru directed that a second taskforce be constituted to address woes facing maize farmers and find a lasting solution to the issue.

The taskforce will be led by Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri and Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago.

President Kenyatta made the announcement during Mashujaa Day celebrations at Bukhungu Stadium in Kakamega town.

This directive comes in the wake of protests by maize farmers who have not been paid for deliveries to the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB).

The board, which manages the strategic reserves of the staple food, ran out of cash it was allocated because it paid brokers who supplied it with cheap maize from Uganda at the expense of Kenyan farmers.

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The disillusioned farmers are still holding on to about 500,000 bags of last season’s crop estimated to be worth Sh1.6 billion while NCPB owes them Sh3.5 billion for maize it purchased from them for the strategic reserve.

While speaking in Kakamega, President Kenyatta warned that stern action would be taken against NCPB officials who engage in corrupt practices involving cartels.

He also warned that stern action would be taken against corrupt officials who authorised the payments to brokers, leaving farmers in unnecessary suffering after toiling to earn a livelihood from the cash crop.

 

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7 Things To Consider Before Leasing Land for Farming

In Kenya, land is becoming scarce and one of the aspiring farmer’s greatest nightmare is accessing farming land at an affordable price. The prices have hiked and what young and new farmers are doing is scooping up land and renting it. Renting land minimizes risk and it’s the most affordable way of participating in food security and sustainability. However before getting yourself in this business of farming rented farm, here are some things you should consider.

Discover Your Market

Even those farmers who have their own land, its necessary to identify your market -that is , your very first potential customers. You need to first locate the markets where you will sell your products. These could be farmers markets, direct customer targets such as farm-to-table restaurants and independent groceries, or people traveling through the area where you hope to farm. Then search an ever-widening radius around that central market location until you find suitable land at the price you can afford. Before you start to farm, figure out where to rent

Land around Semi and Urban areas

Land in towns and cities seem to be scarce, however it is readily available. There these 50*100 plots in towns and with intensive farming techniques, this can be enough land to turn a modest profit with small crops that make the most efficient use of small spaces.

However, there is this land that is on the outskirts of suburbs before reaching cities and towns, semi-urban spaces are big enough with small acreage to hold an entire hobby farm. For beginners, less land can be more manageable than a rural farm. A semi-urban area might boast some city-like development, but land is available in larger tracts. Semi-urban sites can give your farm a rural feel, while retaining proximity to customers.

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Facts about Rural farming

In Kenya where white collar job is adored and few young people into farming, you will find that many current landowners and farmers are at retirement age and many find their children living in cities without the desire to return to farming. It’s in your best interest as a farmer to have your land used and to not see it fall into disrepair. Therefore, as an aspiring farmer you can always rent/lease land in rural areas.

A lot of Networking

A deceased farmer’s land might be held by a trust and left vacant by family members who have no interest in ever farming it. In Kenya, most ancestral land can’t be sold but only inherited and one can lease. This kind of farms that’s potentially available for long-term rent is often not advertised. The best tool for finding it is networking.

Ask for Help

One trait that most people don’t have is asking for help. Ask all of your friends and family for some land you can start with. The key is to get something started as soon as you can. Getting started on your own lawn or on borrowed land makes your business visible; creating opportunity to make your land needs known.

Online Marketing

The world has changed and only time will tell where it will take us. Even if you farm for fun,  your hobby farm basically doesn’t exist if it doesn’t have an online presence, especially if you’re planning to farm in the rural areas. Tell your story and share your food philosophy with a simple website or social media, to share the birth and evolution of your farm to gain support and excitement for your business. Use the results to gather market data and apply it to growing your business.

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Lease For Long

This will definitely be driven by a number of factors. Short-term leases or rentals are certainly an option, if it’s your only option. Short-term leases and rentals are least desirable for both the lessor and the lessee. Both offer flexibility but neither offers stability. Decades-long leases are common in rural areas, and they usually include scheduled intervals for revisiting the contract. A lease should be agreeable and beneficial to both farmer and landowner. Maintaining a respectful relationship should lend itself to revisiting the contract as issues arise.

If you are an aspiring farmer, we can help you get some land in the outcasts of major towns in Kenya and if you have land that you would like to lease contact us.

At Oxfarm Ag, farming is our passion and our business!

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Hass Avocado Market Expands As Kenya Signs New Deal with China

hass avocado deal

Trade CS Peter Munya with Chinese government officials while signing the formal Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreements./ COURTESY: STAR

Hass avocado is one of the biggest fruit in the market and soon or later it will be the biggest. Its demand is growing tremendously.

In the new developments experienced in the month of November 2018, Kenya will now export hass avocado, French beans, mangoes, peanuts, and hides and skins to China.

This happened after a week of delicate negotiations of formal sanitary and phytosanitary between Kenya and China that saw the agreements being signed between Kenya and China for Kenya‘s Agriculture produce to enter the Chinese market.

Apart from hass avocados, other products that were approved are legumes, vegetables and fruits, herbs, meat, bixa, macademia nuts, gum Arabica, myrrh and Asian vegetables like chilli and karela.

The government through state house chief of staff said Kenya and China have also formally launched their technical working group to commence negotiations on the expansion of trade opportunities and review of tariff and non-tariff barriers.

Earlier when President Uhuru Kenyatta had expressed concern about the trade imbalance when he visited China for bilateral talks in early November 2018.

President Uhuru Kenyatta asked China to give preferential treatment to goods from Africa as it continues opening up its vast market to the rest of the world.

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He made the call when he delivered a keynote address at the inaugural China International Import Expo held in Shanghai. Uhuru called on Chinese President Xi Jinping to enact measures to proactively raise the volume of goods coming from the African continent to China. On another meeting before, Kenyatta said China can start by reducing tariffs on specific goods so that more traders from countries including Kenya can access the vast Chinese market of 1.4 billion people.

While acknowledging China’s leading role in the Kenyan economy as a trading partner, the President called for increased Chinese investments in the country.

He noted that China now ranks as the number one trading partner with Kenya accounting for 17.2% of Kenya’s total trade with the World.

Now, if you are a farmer in Kenya willing to grow hass avocado and you are worried there might be no enough market, well stop worrying as the government and major stakeholders are doing all they can to ensure your product gets to the market and fetches the best prices. The ball is in your hand, as a farmer, however, we are here for you!

 

 

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9 little talked about (why agriculture is the best for your retirement and why you should think about it)

The above pictured person is James Karugu, Former Attorney General of Kenya who many years ago retired/quit to do farming in Kiambu County. (Courtesy of Daily Nation)

As we all know, farm life is not everybody’s cup of tea, so this message is dedicated to those who have the intention of retiring to a farm somewhere, but are not convinced that it’s the right thing to do. Well, Oxfarm Ag is here to help you make it happen!

Lets talk about women first.  Women either love or hate farming. The few in the middle are forced into the life of frugal and healthy living because of circumstances -which is unfortunate, but we can always hope that they will come to love farm life.

Most women who enjoy farm life despite the hardships are caregivers – they care for and devote their entire existence to the family

With men it’s a bit more complicated. First there’s the ego issue. Then there’s the dilemma – should it be the town house or the farm house?

This message is meant for wage earners who hopefully have saved enough of their after-tax take home pay or their pension money, whatever the case may be, for retirement.

Retirement doesn’t have to be when you are 55 or 60 or whatever the ‘official’ retirement age is in your company. Retirement is when you are ready to lift up and take your nose away from the grindstone, look up at life and begin living it. And I say go ahead, get yourself a farm or an orchard and spend your retirement there.

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Retirement In a Farm? Things to Consider !

  • If you are retiring away on your own, you will appreciate the space (literally and figuratively)
  • After the initial euphoria of the long-awaited retirement, which lasts about two weeks, you will find it tough going to get through the twelve hours daylight sitting around the house, and another twelve to get you through the night. There’s only so much sleeping you can do. So it would be a great relief that you could be away from the house, not just for a few hours, but a few days, weeks or even months
  • Consider this: you will be walking around in a vast open space with a pruner instead of a five iron in your hand
  • You get more exercise, fresher air and the same sunshine you get on a golf course minus the stress and frustration.
  • As you walk you get to talk to your animals and your trees which don’t talk back to you
  • You can still go fishing, in fact the river running beside your farm may be teeming with fish
  • You can stop and smell the flowers, as often as you like
  • If you have been working in the city, thirty years of inhaling polluted air is enough, isn’t it?
  • Instead of walking your grandchildren in shopping malls, walk them around your orchard where they can feed the animals and climb the fruit trees. It’s good for them, good for you too.

But you need to be ready and be committed. Don’t say one day I will do it, instead say I will have enough money by the time I retire, to retire to my desired place. That’s called a plan, not a dream

If you already have a land somewhere, start planning early, plant trees, build a house, so that by the time you retire, you will have an already functioning farm.

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Reasons Why Hass Avocado is Preferred over other Varieties

GROWING HASS AVOCADO IN KENYA:

No matter how much you earn from your salary, if you have an arable land then hass avocado is worth an investment because its less risky and easy to manage. Its advantages comes in handy, as it requires low very low cost input, low maintenance and it has a ready market all over the world.

Normally, under good management and care, a tree of hass avocado will tke less than 2 ½ years to produce the first fruits.  A single mature tree can produce upto 3,000 fruits under good management.

If you plant at a spacing of 5.2 m by 5.2 m an acre will hold 150 avocado trees. This when mature can give you more than 300, 000 fruits. I Kenya under the current market of more than Ksh 12 per fruit, you can easily get Ksh 3.6 Million from an acre.

Although avocados are fairly resistant to drought, well distributed rainfall of between 1000-1200mm is adequate for proper crop development. They also require well drained soils to avoid root rot. The best soils are sandy or alluvial loams with pH ranging from 5 – 7.

ONE ACRE INVESTMENT AND RETURN OF FARMING TREE TOMATO.

PRODUCTION OF HASS AVOCADO IN KENYA

A mature Hass tree produces up to 2000 fruits per year and the current available farm gate market price offered by the biggest Kenyan fruits exporter is Ksh12 per fruit. Therefore a single Hass tree will generate in Ksh 24,000 every year year. And at acreage 3.6 Million every year.
Direct export market chain current offer is $2 (Ksh 200) per kilogram.

Note: The market price is expected to rise because of high demand with limited supply.

 

Why You should shift gears to Hass avocado and Macadamia farming

Reasons Why Hass Avocado is Preferred over other Varieties

  • Hass avocado is the most demanded avocado variety globally, 90% demanded of all avocado varieties.
  • Hass avocado has the longest shelf life among all varieties up to 2-3 weeks from the time of harvesting which makes handling and shipment easy and convenient.
  • Hass has the most oil content of 17% in 100 grams of fruit pulp and of which oil production is highly valued, at local market cost of Kshs 2,000per liter.
  • Hass avocado fruit is 75% creamy yellow and very delicious which makes it to be highly demanded by consumers basically for smoothies, salad and facials due to it’s nutrition values.

NUTRITIONAL FACTS:
250g Hass Avocado
✔368 calories
✔5g protein
✔20g carbohydrates
✔34g fat

For the best packages and certified hass avocado seedlings contact us. We are leading others follow!

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End of year Kenyan Farm Tour and Training – Kenran Dairy – 12th December 2018

omigo magera farm

Theme: How to run and manage a modern day dairy farm on a small piece of land.

The farm that started with 6 dairy cows in 2016 is to day the hub of 85 dairy cows comprising high yielders, low yielders, in-calf heifers, and unweaned heifers housed in different sections of the unit depending on age and development stage. Utilizing modern innovation technology in milking and preservation, Kenran Dairy is one of the most technological advanced farm in Kenya today.

*From the high investment in computerised milking machines, to the high standards of hygiene practiced by the farmhands; everything spells Europe-style class here.*

The cows here listen to slow jam & classic music, undergoes pedicure, shaving to keep them clean and sleeps on cow mattress to ensure comfort hence more milk production.

 

Related: 6th Mushroom Training – Bannie-El Mushroom Farm in Limuru – 24th November 2018

 

That is what best describes former South Mugirango MP Omingo Magara’s farm tucked deep inside Ongata Rongai. His one-acre farm is an example of how to run a modern-day dairy unit.

One of the biggest headaches for large-scale dairy farmers is safe milk preservation and boosting their milk yields while maintaining their profit margins. Because majority of them lack affordable milk preservation equipment and machines, some end up using dubious methods to achieve this goal.

The farm, having partnered with EuroDairy supplies innovative dairy equipment’s such as coolers and milking machines from Muller — a farm equipment company in Netherlands. Hon Magara also runs a fully stocked state of the art facility that stocks modern dairy farming equipment’s, spare parts and general cow comfort such as cow brushes, cow shaving machines, hoof cutters, cow magnets and detergents for washing milking machines, all which are key to boost milk production

Expect to learn on the following

• Dairy farming as a business
• Production and herd structure
• Housing
• Spacing
• Animal health
• Calf rearing/young stock management
• Feeds/feeding management
• Groupings and requirements (lactating, dry cows, calves and heifers)
• Cow comfort and efficiency
• Herd management
• Adoption of technology
• Socio-economic management
• Staff management
• Challenges

 

Payment Details
Farmers Trend
Mpesa Till Number 201677
Then send confirmation details to +254 706 222 888

Charges per head 4,000/=

Inclusive of transport from Nairobi, writing materials and meals

 

 

More Details about the farm. Omingo Magara The Dairy Farmer

 

MORE PHOTOS OF THE FARM

 

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6th Mushroom Training – Bannie-El Mushroom Farm in Limuru – 24th November 2018

Mushroom-Farming-Business. kenya

To learn more on Mushroom farming we have organized the 6th mushroom training and farm tour at  Bannie-El Mushroom Farm in Limuru.

In broad, the mushroom training will cover the below details:-

  • Cost of production
  • Structure design
  • Preparing compost
  • Substrate preparation and mixing ratios
  • Sterilization/pasteurization (decontamination) of substrate
  • Inoculation (spawning) and conditions
  • Incubation
  • Maintaining conditions
  • Soil casing
  • Management
  • Fruiting process
  • Harvesting
  • Storage
  • Marketing
  • Challenges in production and marketing
  • Cooking preparation recipe

CHARGES PER HEAD

  • 3,000/= Exclusive of transport
  • Payable to Farmer Trend mpesa till number 201677

check more about the farm HERE

CONTACTS: 0790-509684