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Commercial Kiwi fruit Farming

Kiwi Fruit

Kiwi is a medicinal fruit that is native to China and most parts of southern Asia. Today, large scale kiwi farming is done in New Zealand, France, Chile, and Italy. Kiwi is a perennial deciduous plant that produces round fruits with a pleasant, unique sour taste and short hairs. It thrives in warm areas with high humidity. Over the past few years, the demand for the fruit has increased rapidly in the local and export markets due to its nutritional value and health benefits.

Health benefits of Kiwi Fruit

Kiwi fruit is highly nutritious and contains a large percentage of Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and Vitamin B1 and 2. Vitamin C is important in the body since it reduces the risk of cancer, stroke, heart disease, and chronic diseases in the circulatory system. Also, it enhances the health of teeth, iron absorption, and helps in the maintenance of healthy bones, and healing of wounds. Besides, it contains phosphorus, magnesium, sugar, iron, and calcium. With a low-calorie content and a high nutritional content, Kiwi fruits enhance the overall healing effect on the body.

Degrees of fruit maturity

There are three degrees of fruit maturity in Kiwi harvest management. The first degree is botanical maturity which takes place when the fruit has attained the final size and shape. At this time, nutrients have stopped flowing into the fruits. The second degree is usable maturity which occurs when the fruits are fully developed and are ready for consumption. At this time, the fruits have attained all the ideal qualities in the fruit content such as smell, taste, strength. The third degree is technological maturity which indicates the degree of ripeness of the fruits for consumption. Fruits should be harvested when they have fully ripened and sufficiently softened. Harvesting the fruits too early makes them lose their weight excessively and results in a lot of post-harvest losses since such fruits are not durable in storage. Kiwi fruits are sensitive to freezing and frost hence should be grown in areas that are less prone to frost. Farmers should ensure that they plan their markets early enough to prevent post-harvest losses and to ensure that they are taken to the market early enough.

Commercial kiwi Fruit harvesting

On most occasions, harvesting kiwi fruits can be a complicated task, especially when growing the fruits for commercial purposes. The advancements in agricultural technology have led to the introduction of a harvesting tool called a refractometer. This tool is used by commercial kiwi farmers to measure the sugar levels in the fruit to determine whether it’s mature enough to be harvested. Home gardeners require extensive knowledge of kiwi fruits to know when the fruits are fully mature. In some cases, the fruit might have attained the full size, but it’s mature enough for harvesting. Kiwi fruits should be harvested when it fully softens off the vine. Unlike other fruits, kiwi fruits fully ripen after they have been removed from the vine. After harvesting, the fruits should be stored in areas with high humidity and cold temperatures. This helps in preserving them longer for up to 4 – 6 months.

Retailing at competitive prices in the export market, Kiwi farming can be a lucrative venture for smallholder and largescale farmers. Kiwi farming requires skill and expertise. Apart from quality kiwi seedlings, Oxfarm Ag Ltd provides you with soil testing services, farm inputs such as irrigation and fertigation systems at competitive prices, and agronomy support to ensure that you achieve success in Kiwi farming.

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Is farming in controlled environments practical?

Vertical Farming

Vertical and greenhouse farming should be viewed as two production systems on a gradient instead of perceiving them as two opposed systems. In most cases, greenhouses can use technologies from vertical gardens to increase crop performance and climate control in these environments. When interactions with the exterior environment are undesirable, vertical gardens provide an ideal environment for climate control.

In modern agriculture, vertical farming is a production system that is gaining popularity, especially in urban areas. During establishment, this method requires knowledge from other disciplines such as systems engineering and environmental science. However, farmers can hire professionals to establish controlled environments with proper ventilation systems to regulate the flow of air, fully functioning advanced irrigation and fertigation systems, crop monitoring tools such as sensors, and proper lighting with fewer energy costs. Compared to traditional production systems, growing crops in controlled environments is more efficient and uses less water, especially when using drip irrigation systems.

Farmers growing crops in greenhouses invest more in freely available solar energy which cost-effective and more efficient compared to electrical energy. However, greenhouses do not offer all the required conditions which make vertical gardens more viable, especially in urban environments where space is limited.

What are the benefits of practicing Farming in controlled environments?

There are countless benefits of growing crops in controlled environments. They include:

  • Energy losses across the greenhouse and vertical façade are relatively low and the beneficial energy gain is higher, especially in cold areas that receive little sunlight. However, controlled environments are not effective for various crops such as grapes that require direct sunlight to enhance crop quality.
  • Resources such as land, water, and fertilizers that are used are less which makes the production methods viable in densely populated, arid, and semi-arid areas.
  • Vertical gardens and greenhouses strengthen local food production especially in urban areas that rely on imports to sustain the ever-increasing population.
  • Controlled environments provide the ideal conditions for various crops such as strawberries and vegetables to flourish. Unlike open fields, controlled environments are not affected by the adverse effects of climate change such as extremely high temperatures and strong winds.

Adopting innovative solutions

Europe and Asia provide a large market for Kenyan horticultural products. As the global population keeps growing, the demand for food is rising to sustain it. Agricultural land is decreasing over time and it’s important to adopt innovative farming practices to produce enough food for the growing population.

In arid and urban areas, small spaces can be used to grow more. Vertical farms promote agriculture in urban areas where space is limited and arid areas where water and ecological conditions are not conducive for agriculture.  Apart from hydroponics and aeroponics production methods, there is a new system whereby the roots are exposed to a nutrient-rich fog. This method requires less water and the production is higher compared to hydroponics since the nutrients are absorbed faster.

Automation and digitalization in controlled environments make farm management more effective. Since the growing environments are smaller, especially in urban areas, irrigation, fertigation, crop monitoring, and pest control is more effective and efficient which translates into high yield quality and quantity.

At Oxfarm, we can help you establish vertical farms as well as Multistorey gardens.