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How to Choose the right market for your farm produce

market for fresh produce

Small scale farmers in Kenya tend to plant first and look for market afterwards.

It is important to locate the target market and establish the degree of competition before a farmer puts the crop in so that his/her rewards can be fully reaped with the harvest.

Farmers in Kenya ought to decide where they will sell their produce, what the market wants from them and how this fits into their budget.

There are several different pathways fresh produce might follow to the end consumer. It all depends on the choice of market the farmer chooses.

Indirect Selling

If a farmer has a more introvert personality and don’t like dealing with a lot of people, this might be his/her preferred option.

Indirect sales institutions have strict requirements for producers, and may require Global G.A.P. certification, where a farmer must produce according to a strict set of regulations that applies to the pesticides a farmer uses, fertilizer, water quality and labor conditions. There could be a delay in payments when using indirect methods.

How Long Should Your Farming Enterprise Take To Become Profitable?

Wholesale Marketing

With wholesale marketing a farmer is selling all his/her crops to one place, like a store, restaurant, co-op or market. This is one of the fastest ways to sell your harvest, but it won’t bring in the same profits compared to more direct methods.

At terminal wholesale markets in urban areas your agricultural produce is traded to the buyers. These markets have the advantage of high concentration for supply and demand, with larger volumes traded.

It is important to note that wholesale buyers expect high quality, consistency, timely delivery, sorted crops and clean products. This market is more vulnerable to variability.

When a farmer plants seasonal crops, it means a farmer will compete with several other producers in the market, leading to lower prices.

At wholesale markets, a farmer competes with several other farmers and their produce, and the price a farmer gets depends on the current market demand and might vary from day to day.

Processing Markets

Processing is quite costly, and this means most of the processing of fresh produce is done by large companies, since processors need to keep their unit costs low to stay competitive. Expect to sell his/her produce at lower prices.

When a farmer produces for a processing market, a farmer usually has to deliver according to a contract that was set up before planting that specifies the type and amount of vegetables or fruit a farmer produces and deliver.
It is a sure way to sell his/her  produce, with a fixed income at the end of the season and it allows a farmer to plan ahead for the next planting season. Processing plants need large volumes of produce for processing, and usually at a cheaper cost.

Supermarkets and Food Retailers

Food retailers are normally interested in locally produced vegetables, as it promises the freshest product on their shelves, and shows community support.

These markets vary from farm stalls, independent, locally-owned grocery stores to large grocery chains.

Large chain stores have defined methods of buying in their products and have specific requirements. It might be challenging to persuade his local chain store to sell his produce, since purchasing usually requires approval from regional or central management.

The prices are also likely to be linked to regional prices rather than local prices. High quality is expected, and produce might be rejected if it is not up to standard at delivery.

The advantage is that a farmer can sell his produce in bulk, on a weekly basis. Depending on the crops a farmer plant and the size of the farm, a farmer may have to spend extra time and money on cleaning and packaging as well as branding.

When a farmer is selling his produce at a local produce, remember that the name of the brand of the supermarket is also at stake. Therefore, farmer’s produce must be fresh and of good quality.

What are the basic characteristics of a successful farm manager?

Food Service Buyers or Institutions

These include schools, colleges, nursing homes, hospitals or prisons that have to produce food at low cost which translates into low prices for farmer’s produce. These institutions usually have requirements and food safety regulations that must be kept up.

It does provide a farmer with a secure end point for his/her produce.

Restaurant Sales

Most restaurants will pay a premium for quality local products, especially for specialty produce that are not readily available in local supermarkets.

A good personal relationship with the chef is important to ensure they turn to a farmer for their fresh produce need. The chef must be regularly updated with your planting and harvesting schedule, since they run a tight schedule. Quality is of key importance, as well as reliable, timely delivery.
Remember chefs are busy, and try to contact them outside of mealtimes or when they are preparing for meals.

Direct Sales

This is a direct method used to sell your product to customers and can be very time consuming for farmers. If a farmer is a good planner and like to talk to people, this method can work for you. Remember, someone should permanently man the stand, like you, the farmer, a family member or someone hired at extra cost, to do the selling.

There is no middleman involved that eats away at your profits, but there could be a rental cost. This method is more profitable, and a farmer gets paid directly, but takes up more time.

Farmers’ Market or Community Market

Many people go to these markets to get the freshest vegetables available. Ensure the market is popular with locals and located in a busy place. The market must also be clean and well managed.

A farmer will compete with other farmers and their displays, so be sure that his/her offer stands out with variety, quality and freshness as well as something extra like a sauce or product made from his/her vegetables.

Note:

  • Display is very important; group all same colored vegetables together. Bright colors like yellow or red will catch the eye of your customer.
  • A farmer can also make up some packages, recipes or staple vegetables in bargain packages.
  • Add a sign with the name of your farm or name of your business, so people can recognize your stand or see the pricing for your products. Be creative.

There you go, before embarking on this noble course of feeding people, ensure you have identified your market and the other things will be easier to do.

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What are the basic characteristics of a successful farm manager?

Most people believe that farming is quite a simple job and for this reason, they often underestimate farmers. However, farming is a very complex activity that demands a lot of hard work and proper management. Everyone can grow crops. Still, not everyone can be a successful farm manager. You could be having all the money, but you can’t run a farm.

You therefore end up employing a manager to manage and carry out duties associated with the day-to-day and long-term management of a farm. It is their responsibility to ensure that the farm runs efficiently and profitably. Their day-to-day activities will depend on the type of farm being managed

Being a successful farm manager means producing optimal yield and quality crops, while at the same time making a profit and managing farm sustainably. This is something every farmer strives to.

Characteristics of a Successful Farm Manager

While striving to achieve successful farm business, many farmers ask themselves are they doing the right thing. In doing so, they often wonder employ managers to manage a farm efficiently. So, what are the most important characteristics of a successful farm manager.

There is no unique formula for success. However, a successful farm manager is a person who meets these three important characteristics:

Organized and skilled in managing farm activities

A successful farmer always knows how many work hours were spent on each farm activity, field and farm season. Depending on the number of work hours, a farm manager can determine whether a certain activity took more time than planned and then track how it affects further production and farm finances.

Tracking work hours also facilitates making decisions regarding future farm activities. Based on data about work hours spent on a certain farm activity, a farmer can organize future activities and plan how much workers or work hours will be needed to manage the following activities.

Being organized and skilled in managing farm activities also includes tracking the efficiency of each worker. While some workers are efficient, others can lack behind. In that case, a farmer is able to pay workers based on their efficiency, which is particularly important for farmers who hire seasonal workers, usually during the harvest.

Besides tracking work hours and the efficiency of each worker, successful farmers also track work cost for each farm activity, field, and season. In doing so, they know how much a certain farm activity costs, which makes future planning and finance management easier.

Hass Avocado and Macadamia farming will Improve Lives “ Kiraitu Murungi”

 Open-minded to new technologies

Traditional farming methods are being overtaken by new technological ways. Today, growing crops is much more than just cultivating the soil. Various farm sensors, drones, advanced tractors with automated steering systems, farm management software, and many other remarkable technologies are changing the way food is produced. Agriculture, known as a traditional and outdated activity, is now modernized and smart.

Every improvement in farm technology is oriented towards farmer’s productivity. Farmers who are open-minded to new technologies, today have the true opportunity to improve their production. In other words, the only thing that stands between a farmer and success is his own will to change his approach and accept modernized and improved agricultural solutions.

Data-driven manager

In order to increase farm productivity and profitability, while at the same time reduce risks and costs, successful farmers make decisions based on data.

Data-driven farm management is the only safe way for resource utilization. For instance, some farmers practice pest protection, fertilization, and many other activities based on their feeling. In doing so, they often spend their resources without knowing whether it’s really necessary, which usually results in higher costs and less efficient farm management. Therefore, tracking the usage of resources per each crop, field, and season, is extremely important to achieve productive and profitable crop production.

Besides that, successful farm managers always know which crops are productive and which lack behind.

Tracking crop productivity, as well as sales and expenses, can reveal valuable information and facilitate making serious decisions which determine the further direction of farm management.

Being a successful farmer requires a lot of hard work and knowledge. In order to manage a farm efficiently, the farmer needs to have a certain level of organization, which is sometimes hard to achieve. For this reason, farmers who are striving to achieve successful crop production and manage a farm efficiently, always make data-driven decision.

Your farm manager is the link between you and success.

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How Long Should Your Farming Enterprise Take To Become Profitable?

fruit and vegetable farming

Farming can be successful but for you to be successful, you have to think critically and out of the box. You must think like a modern tech farmer and not as that conservative traditional farmer. You must do away with the traditional methods and think as a business person, the traditional methods no longer work.

Most of the new farmers struggle because they follow passion instead of viewing farming as a business and a carrier. Whatever prevents you from getting into farming and succeeding can be done with. Let’s see what you can do to be successful if farming and how long it will take you.

Best methods to improve your farm profitability

Conduct Market Analysis First

If as a farmer you grow any type of crop without first knowing a specific market, you are bound to fail. Sadly, that’s what most people do. They rush into farming business without validating the market potential of their given crop.

Don’t look at what your neighbors are growing and decide, do your own analysis. Competition kicks in and the only way to stand out, is through lowering your prices. But that’s the best scenario, the worst case scenario would be the marketing dictating what price you get.

No one wants to lose control of how they price their commodities. But that’s what you’ll get when you fail to look for a market upfront. You’ll pay for the mistake by squeezing your margins dry. To be on the safe side, start by approaching all probable market outlets about your farming ideas and then choose an enterprise based on the feedback you receive. That way you’ll be sure that the market really needs what you intend to grow.

Hass Avocado and Macadamia farming will Improve Lives “ Kiraitu Murungi”

Make Sure You Choose The Right Crop

If you want to optimize on your probability, make sure you go for the right crop. Choosing the right crop to plant is the first step to optimizing farm profitability.

In any given market, consumers will demand more than one enterprise. As an entrepreneur under such circumstances, you’re face with a decision on what enterprise to select. My advice is simple, choose the one that has a higher market value.

The reason I say this is because the cost of production is almost the same across various enterprises. For example, whether you need to grow tree tomatoes or hass avocado you’ll require land, same land preparation, and same operation cost. But the difference is determined by how the market values a given crop.

Always Plan in Advance

Planning is important in all fields and those who ignore it do so at their own peril. It’s a fact that all professionals have plans – For instance, doctors follow a treatment plan, airline pilots follow a flight plan, and soldiers follow a military operation plan.

While we can’t guarantee your success – in fact no one can, having a plan dramatically increases your probability of success. The reason why most farming ideas no matter how great never live to see the light of day, is that they neglect this vital step.

Knowing this gives you unfair advantage over the rest of the folks. When you take your time to write a detailed farm plan, you’ll save yourself a lot of time and frustration trying to figure what to do next.

And as with any agricultural produce, time is a luxury you cannot afford. Given the perishable nature of most horticultural produce, you’ll be messed up if you lack a plan of action.

Diversify Your farming Enterprises

Don’t try to specialize in farming. There are some other instances where specialization is paramount, but if you want farm profitability badly, you can’t afford to specialize.

You have likely heard the expression “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”

For example, if you’re growing passion fruits for income, it could be a good idea to intercrop them with other vegetables such as, strawberries, onions, and spinach.

These intercropped short-term crops will enable you to earn some income before your main crop.

Stick to Your Plan

Starting a farm of your own is a fantastic way to give yourself some control and possibly earn an extra income at the same time.

Farming is risky, challenging, and not for the fainthearted. Farmers and agripreneurs deal with unpredictable situations, such as crop failures and market fluctuations. One year may produce a bountiful harvest, while another may bring total devastation and little or no income.

This is all part of the business of agriculture. Now, when you face such situation, the last thing you need to do is switch plans.

While some challenges might require a change of plans, it’s better to stick to your plan and learn from your mistakes. It’s all part of the process that eventually leads to farm profitability.

Invest in Yourself

You need to continually invest in yourself to become better at what you do. Grasp any learning opportunity to help you make better farm decisions.

While you do this, don’t worry about being perfect. If you worry too much about being perfect, you’re never going to get anything done. Get your farm set up as soon as you can, and you can worry about learning the ins and outs of the trade later. Learning events such as field days, open days, and libraries are all good sources of information. ​

Don’t Take too Many Short Cuts

Farming entrepreneurs have a role to play. A role to protect the integrity of the industry and restore faith in the quality food standards. Taking short cuts defeats the whole logic of protecting the industry’s integrity.

Compliance to quality standards and other farm operations is key. Therefore, to safeguard your farm profitability, you need to adhere to those standards.

Keep Clear Book Records

Always ensure you keep current, accurate records. Pay attention to details. Know where your money is generated and spent. Storing receipts in a shoebox and waiting to post figures at the end of the year is not a recommended recordkeeping system.

Good records will help you to measure your cash flow as well as to estimate the profitability of the enterprises. ​

Ensure Food Safety in Mind

Remember that you’re growing food for human consumption. And as such, food safety is key. The only way to ensure that you’re growing safe and high quality produce, is by following the best agricultural practices.

Internationally producers and consumers are embracing the practices and. It’s not just a requirement but an important component in enhancing food safety. Consumers will pay you more when you’re accredited and certified against such standards.

Seek Help

No one is perfect when it comes to farming. Therefore there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t ask for help when you need it. Many people, including oxfarm, are happy to help people out.

Conclusion

Farming takes time, therefore be patient and persistent. Follow the above few tips and you will be surprised how first your farming enterprise will grow.

 

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What are the best organic methods of controlling pests in Kenya?

organic pestcides use

Random use of pesticide is still rampant in Kenya despite the obvious risks it poses to the environment and human health.

The use of chemicals is partly because of ought to feed the escalating international population and development of resistance by pests.

IPM (Integrated Pest Management) is a good substitute to chemical use, it involves selection and use of a combination of methods and materials to optimize production without harming the environment.

Although IPM is crop specific, effective implementation of IPM requires policy guidelines. Some cultural practices with general IPM application include crop rotation, intercropping, planting/harvesting timing, use of fertilizers and organic pesticides, plus plot location selection, among others.

Intercropping

Intercropping has been used successfully to control the maize and sorghum plant pest striga and the maize stem borer through push and pull technology. In the pull technology, a strip of napier grass is planted around the cereal field.

When the moth that produces the larva (stem borer) attacks the field, it first comes into contact and is attracted to napier through some chemical substances produced by the grass.

It lays eggs on it and when the eggs hatch into larvae, which bore into the napier grass stems, the plant produces a sticky substance that traps them to death.

When desmodium is planted in between the rows of cereals, it produces a ground cover which prevents growth of striga.

Further it produces chemicals that trigger germination of striga and when this happens in the cereal off season, the germinated striga dies as it has to attach to maize, sorghum or millet roots to survive.

In the push technology, desmodium produces chemical substances (kairomones) that push away stem borers. In addition to pest control and use as an animal feed, desmodium is a legume that fixes nitrogen enriching the soil and increasing its productivity with minimal use of inorganic fertilizers.

Minimize use of Pesticides through Crop  Rotation

Crop rotation can be used to control pests that attack unrelated plant species. An example is bacteria wilt in Irish potatoes, which can be curbed by rotating with maize in a ratio 1:3.

The potato is grown once in every three seasons eliminating bacteria in the soil

Timing the Planting

Research has shown that early (April) timing of the wheat planting season helps to control the Russian wheat aphid density levels with the late planted (June) crop showing high levels of infestation.

Location of the Crop

Some farmers have discovered that planting crops on low lying plots predisposes vulnerable crops to disease transmission through floodwater.

They have, therefore, made it a habit to plant crops in areas where flood water is not common or they dig trenches that redirect the flood waters from their crops. This has been applied in control of bacterial wilt in potatoes.

What are the Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds?

Organic Fertilizers

Animal and farm yard manure; agricultural waste from livestock and crop processing plants; organic municipal solid waste can all be used to produce organic manure through composting and the biogas technologies.

The composting method decomposes the organic material in the presence of oxygen (aerobically) while the biogas method does the same in the absence of oxygen (anaerobically).

In both reactions, heat is produced which results in inactivation or killing of the common pests that would otherwise affect crops.

Unlike inorganic pesticides, organic ones have the ability to disintegrate in the environment and thus their toxicity is neutralized. Pyrethrum is one plant that produces organic pesticides.

Studies in Embu show that on average, farmers who implemented the above methods had approximately 54.5 per cent reduction in magnitude of mango rejection than those who didn’t.

Further, the participants spent approximately 46.3 per cent less on insecticide per acre than the non-participants and on average received approximately 22.4 per cent more net income than the non-participants.

(Courtesy of Seeds of Gold)

 

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What are the Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds?

If you are in a mood for a chewy snack that doubles as an exceptional food, look no further than pumpkin seeds. With a good sort of nutrients starting from manganese and magnesium to copper, protein and zinc, pumpkin seeds are nutrition powerhouses committed in a very tiny package. They additionally contain plant compounds referred to as phytosterols and free-radical scavenging antioxidants, which might offer your health another boost.
Because these are high-fiber seeds, they’re ready to boost your fiber intake, serving to you reach the best quantity of 50 grams per 1,000 calories consumed. Better of all, since pumpkin seeds are extremely portable and need no refrigeration, they create a superb snack to stay with you whenever you are on the move, or they will be used as a fast anytime snack at home as well. Below are different healthy benefits of pumpkin seeds.

Heart Healthy Magnesium

One-quarter cup of pumpkin seeds contains nearly half of the recommended daily amount of magnesium, which participates in a wide range of vitally important physiological functions, including the creation of ATP (adenosine triphosphate, the energy molecules of your body), the synthesis of RNA and DNA, the pumping of your heart, proper bone and tooth formation, relaxation of your blood vessels, and proper bowel function.

Magnesium has been shown to benefit your blood pressure and help prevent sudden cardiac arrest, heart attack, and stroke, yet an estimated 80 percent of Americans are deficient in this important mineral.

Zinc for Immune Support

Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of zinc (one ounce contains more than 2 mg of this beneficial mineral). Zinc is important to your body in many ways, including immunity, cell growth and division, sleep, mood, your senses of taste and smell, eye and skin health, insulin regulation, and male sexual function.

Many are deficient in zinc due to mineral-depleted soils, drug effects, plant-based diets, and other diets high in grain. This deficiency is associated with increased colds and flu, chronic fatigue, depression, acne, low birth weight babies, learning problems and poor school performance in children, among others.

Plant-Based Omega-3 Fats

Raw nuts and seeds, including pumpkin seeds, are one of the best sources of plant-based omega-3s (alpha-linolenic acid or ALA). We all need ALA, however, ALA has to be converted by your body into the far more essential omega-3 fats EPA and DHA — by an enzyme in which the vast majority of us have impaired by high insulin levels. So, while pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of ALA, I believe it is essential to get some of your omega-3 fats from animal sources, such as krill oil, as well.

Do you think Kenyan leaders who are highly recommending hass Avocado farming are bluffing? What do they know that we don’t?

Prostate Health

Pumpkin seeds have long been valued as an important natural food for men’s health. This is in part because of their high zinc content, which is important for prostate health (where it is found in the highest concentrations in the body), and also because pumpkin seed extracts and oils may play a role in treating benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH, or enlarged prostate). Research suggests that both pumpkin seed oil and pumpkin seeds may be particularly beneficial in supporting prostate health.

Anti-Diabetic Effects

Animal studies suggest that pumpkin seeds may help improve insulin regulation and help prevent diabetic complications by decreasing oxidative stress.

Benefits for Postmenopausal Women

Pumpkin seed oil is rich in natural phytoestrogens and studies suggest it may lead to a significant increase in good “HDL” cholesterol along with decreases in blood pressure, hot flashes, headaches, joint pains and other menopausal symptoms in postmenopausal women.

Heart and Liver Health

Pumpkin seeds, rich in healthy fats, antioxidants and fibers, may provide benefits for heart and liver health, particularly when mixed with flax seeds.

Tryptophan for Restful Sleep

Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of tryptophan, an amino acid (protein building block) that your body converts into serotonin, which in turn is converted into melatonin, the “sleep hormone.” Eating pumpkin seeds a few hours before bed, along with a carbohydrate like a small piece of fruit, may be especially beneficial for providing your body the tryptophan needed for your melatonin and serotonin production to help promote a restful night’s sleep

Anti-Inflammatory Benefits

Pumpkin seed oil has been found to exhibit anti-inflammatory effects. One animal study even found it worked as well as the anti-inflammatory drug indomethacin in treating arthritis, but without the side effects.

Hass Avocado and Macadamia farming will Improve Lives “ Kiraitu Murungi”

What’s the Best Way to Consume Pumpkin Seeds?

pumpkin seeds
Roasted pumpkin seeds

In order to preserve the healthy fats present in the seeds, pumpkin seeds should be eaten raw. If you choose to purchase seeds from a bulk bin, make sure they smell fresh – not musty, spoiled or stale, which could indicate rancidity or the presence of fungal mycotoxins. Organic pumpkin seeds are preferred, as they will not be contaminated with pesticides or other harmful chemicals.

However, most nuts and seeds have anti-nutrients like phytic acid that can make all the previously discussed important nutrients less bio available when you consume them. So if you plan on consuming seeds or nuts on a regular basis, it would be wise to soak or sprout them. To make them more palatable, you can then dehydrate them in your oven, or better yet and more cost effectively in a dehydrator. There are many dehydrators on the market, but Excalibur is generally considered the best. I have used one for over 20 years.

If you prefer to eat the seeds roasted, do so yourself so you can control the roasting temperature and time. Raw pumpkin seeds can be roasted on a low heat setting in your oven (no more than 75 degrees Celsius), sprinkled with Himalayan or other natural salt, for about 15-20 minutes.

For more information, contact us.

 

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“You are what you eat” Organic farmers encourage people to eat organic food

According to Sylvia an organic farmer from Ndeiya in Limuru, kiambu County, going to the gym and exercising daily is not enough. What you eat plays a major role in your health. She recommends organic food.

The term “organic” refers to the way agricultural products are grown and processed. While the regulations vary from country to country, in Kenya, organic crops must be grown without the use of synthetic pesticides, bioengineered genes (GMOs), petroleum-based fertilizers, and sewage sludge-based fertilizers.

Organic livestock raised for meat, eggs, and dairy products must have access to the outdoors and be given organic feed. They may not be given antibiotics, growth hormones, or any animal by-products.

What are the most profitable fruits/crops to grow in Kenya Today?

What is the difference between organic and Conventionally-grown food?

Organic Grown Produce Conventionally Grown produce
Grown with natural fertilizers (manure, compost) Grown with synthetic or chemical fertilizers.
Weeds are controlled naturally (crop rotation, hand weeding, mulching, and tilling). Weeds are controlled with chemical herbicides.

Pests are controlled with synthetic pesticides

Organic Meat/Dairy/Eggs Conventionally Raised Meat/Eggs/Dairy
Livestock are given all organic, hormone- and GMO-free feed. Livestock are given growth hormones for faster growth, as well as non-organic, GMO feed.
Disease is prevented with natural methods such as clean housing, rotational grazing, and healthy diet. Antibiotics and medications are used to prevent livestock disease.
Livestock must have access to the outdoors. Livestock may or may not have access to the outdoors.

You can’t expect to fuel your body and achieve optimal health by eating food, laced with toxic chemicals, that your body doesn’t recognize. So, why settle for getting by when you can thrive?

The Advantages of organic food

How your food is grown or raised can have a major impact on your mental and emotional health as well as the environment. Organic foods often have more beneficial nutrients, such as antioxidants, than their conventionally-grown counterparts and people with allergies to foods, chemicals, or preservatives often find their symptoms lessen or go away when they eat only organic foods.

Organic produce contains fewer pesticides

Chemicals such as fungicides, herbicides, and insecticides are widely used in conventional agriculture and residues remain on (and in) the food we eat.

Organic food is often fresher

because it doesn’t contain preservatives that make it last longer. Organic produce is often (but not always, so watch where it is from) produced on smaller farms near where it is sold.

Organic farming is better for the environment.

Organic farming practices reduce pollution, conserve water, reduce soil erosion, increase soil fertility, and use less energy. Farming without pesticides is also better for nearby birds and animals as well as people who live close to farms.

Organically raised animals are NOT given antibiotics, growth hormones, or fed animal byproducts

Feeding livestock animal byproducts increases the risk of mad cow disease (BSE) and the use of antibiotics can create antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. Organically-raised animals are given more space to move around and access to the outdoors, which help to keep them healthy.

Organic meat and milk are richer in certain nutrients

Results shows that levels of certain nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids, were up to 50 percent higher in organic meat and milk than in conventionally raised versions.

Organic food is GMO-free

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) or genetically engineered (GE) foods are plants whose DNA has been altered in ways that cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding, most commonly in order to be resistant to pesticides or produce an insecticide.

Accrding to Sylvia, Kenyans are widely embracing organic foods. This is so because of the lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, blood pressure, cancer etc..

Therefore, take time off, try organic food as you still exercise, and you will be healthy otherwise don’t go to the gyms, exercise daily and still eat unhealthy foods. You have to eat healthy.

Contact us for more details.

 

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Steps to follow when starting Organic Farming Business in Kenya

Below are a few tips that can help new startup farmers to successfully start an organic farming business in Kenya whereby this new agricultural business opportunities can create employment for thousands of Kenyan citizens.

Before the modern-day technology, agriculture was being done in an organic way which meant that whatever used in the Shamba be it fertilizers, pesticides etc. was natural and not genetically modified. This way agricultural produce gotten from organic farming had the essential nutrients and consumers didn’t have to worry about the effects it could cause.
Starting an organic farm in Kenya is applicable to every farmer, you can start new with this farming practice and for those already into farming you can gradually make a switch.

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How to Start Organic Farming in Kenya

  • First of all, you have to understand what an organic farm is, it is actually nothing of the ordinary just that you are being restricted to some certain things which you have to strictly adhere in your farming practice. Organic farming is an alternative agricultural system used in the production of both livestock and crops which do not in any way encourage or involve the use genetically modified organisms, fertilizers, growth hormones and even antibiotics in order to keep the crop and the soil in a healthy condition always.
  • Decide on what kind of farming or agriculture you want to engage in, make sure you have gained enough capital and knowledge so that you can be able to understand the challenges you can encounter, how to avert it and manage the farming operation very well.
  • Get a suitable land depending on the kind of farming business you choose, make sure that the land has a suitable soil for cultivation and sizeable enough for your farming needs. Check the pH value to make sure it’s normal and as well prepare the land using organic manure if the soil composition is not okay.
  • Before commencing this kind of farming business practice, there is something you must do, which is, you have to identify yourself with the right agency or organization that is responsible for certifying organic farmers in Kenya, you can get the right information from them and they will also help you to understand the farming practice and make sure that you adhere to their requirement and rule.
  • Identify with the Association of Organic Agriculture Practitioners of Kenya which was formerly Kenyan Organic Agriculture Network, they create awareness on the benefits of organic farming and its practice.
  • Get the right seedling specifically from farms which encourage or practices organic farming, remember you should not use genetically modified seeds, therefore to make sure you get the right one you can also request of that from the necessary organization as mention above which will gladly help you in procuring the right organic seedlings.
  • Consider how to make your own manure, natural pest, insect and weed control, how to make animal feeds etc., depending on your agricultural practice which will help to reduce the cost which might be incurred in purchasing them. It is very likely that you cannot produce all the feeds, etc., as there are ones which have been done by professionals in the field which includes their medications and vaccines, so why you purchase their essential needs do the best you can to complement the ones you buy.

This kind of farming practice has so many advantages such as being environmental friendly, no worries of harmful effects from chemicals, improve the soil and more but it is pricey because you have to source for natural alternative of whatever you are looking for but yet people do still prefer organic foods and highly sought after it regardless of its price because of its health benefits.

For more information on the best organic fertilizers to use, contact us.

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How to accumulate wealth through rabbit farming in Kenya

Rabbit farming in Kenya can be a very profitable agribusiness for anyone knowledgeable in animal husbandry.  Unlike other livestock farming, rabbit farming requires a low capital investment to start up.

Indeed, every part of the rabbit is useful. Its skin, which can be converted into leather is much sought by shoe and bag making factories. Its fur is used for manufacturing clothes while bones go into the production of livestock feed. The rabbit’s meat of course, makes for a delicacy when properly cooked. Live rabbits on the other hand are used as specimens for tests in laboratories.

Before venturing into the rabbit-breeding business, it is imperative to be well-grounded in the knowledge of the animals, how to raise them and which customers to approach for marketing.

Therefore, as an aspiring rabbit farmer, you must know the following.

How to Construct A House For Your Rabbits

Rabbits are sensitive to space and when not granted enough to freely move about, often exhibit abnormal behavior. This includes repetitive chewing of cage bars or over-grooming. The rabbitry should be an enclosed construction with proper ventilation, lighting, heating, and cooling systems. Heating and ventilation are crucial because rabbits do not tolerate extreme temperatures very well. You should maintain the herd on a year-round schedule of 12 hours each of light and darkness to keep them breeding throughout the year.

Rabbits can be kept in cages, hutches or in a house. Whichever the case is, their living quarters should accommodate enough room for their feeders, drinkers, kits and expansion of their quantity.

The cage for housing rabbits must be adequate in size. You may construct it yourself, but it is advisable to allow a professional handle the job for you. You can also start the business in your backyard if you have good space management skills.

Regardless, rabbits are good at taking care of themselves once you create a nice habitat for them. Better still, they permit you to keep your day job while you rear them if you so choose. 

Top Skills farmers need to be successful in Kenya

Breeding and Production of Rabbit

Commencing rabbit farming in Kenya demands that you have a good understanding of the breeds. Some of these breeds are California White, Flemish Giant, New Zealand White and some other local cross breeds.

Rabbits multiply rapidly and they start breeding at 4 to 5 months of age. The gestation period for the doe (female rabbit) is 31 days and she could give birth to between 6 and 10 kits (baby rabbits) in one go. Rabbits are also able to reproduce seven times a year. The doe being capable of producing up to 50 baby rabbits in a year translates into good income with successful breeding.

For reproduction to take place, the buck and doe must be kept together to induce mating, after which they should be kept in separate cages. Bucks should be used for reproduction at least once in four days. The mating process could be scheduled for every three weeks or every six weeks depending on your level of patience. 

How to Feed Your Rabbits

Rabbits should be fed at least twice a day and provided with plenty of water. Though the best food for them is grass, they can also be fed cabbage and lettuce. Rabbits are naturally nocturnal creatures, preferring to eat at night. Therefore, feeding them well in the evening is critical. If you have an intention to introduce a new type of food, do it slowly for these creatures don’t adapt swiftly.

But if opting for processed feed, it is important to find out the exact amount of what they consume on a daily basis. This will help you avoid wastage.

Two types of nutrition programs are used for raising rabbits. They consist of the hay and grain diets or commercial pre-balanced pellet rations. Pellet rations meet all of a rabbit’s nutritional requirements and are more convenient than formulating hay and grain rations.

Pregnant does and those with litters should receive all the feed they can eat in a day while Bucks and does without litters need 6 to 8 ounces of pellets a day.

When raising Angora rabbits, you should avoid feeding them hay because dust will contaminate the wool and lower its quality.

Marketing and Sales

Not many people are involved in commercial rabbit production in Kenya. Because of this, it has been almost impossible for the few existing rabbit farmers to satisfy market demand. Therefore, once you set up your own rabbit farming business in Kenya, you are already on your way to becoming a silent millionaire.

You can make your sales in the local market. If you prefer not to stay all day long selling rabbits, consider getting somebody to sell them for you. Social Media is also a reliable platform for attracting patronage. Unfortunately, poor marketing is the main drawback for rabbit farming in the country.

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Disease Control

The most important factors for maintaining a healthy rabbit herd are cleanliness, good ventilation, close observation, and protection from sun and rain.

Rabbits are susceptible to several diseases that can reduce production to unprofitable levels. The respiratory disease caused by Pasturellamultocida is responsible for decreased productivity and a high mortality rate in does.

To help prevent diseases, do not permit casual visitors entry into the rabbitry. They may introduce a disease or cause additional stress to the animals. Also, isolate any sick or injured rabbit immediately. Disinfect both the isolation cage and the rabbit’s regular cage to avoid further spread of the disease.

For a good health program, you should keep accurate records of each animal. Provide each rabbit with a tattoo identification number or ear tag and attach an identification card with health and breeding information to its hutch.

Benefits of Rabbit Farming in Kenya

There are several benefits of commercial rabbit farming in Kenya. The main benefits of rabbit farming business in Kenya are listed below.

  • Rabbits are very fast-growing animals like broiler chicken. They gain maturity fast and become suitable for slaughtering purpose within 4-5 months.
  • Rabbit gestation period is less (generally between 28-31 days) and a doe give birth of kids after every 2 months. Each time one doe can give birth of 2-8 kids.
  • Starting rabbit farming in Kenya requires very little capital or investment. Even, you can start rabbit farming business in a well ventilated small space.
  • Food to meat converting rate is higher on rabbit than any other livestock animals.
  • Rabbit meat is very tasty and nutritious. All types and all aged people can easily consume and digest rabbit meat.
  • Feeding costs for commercial rabbit farming in Kenya is also very less. You can easily feed your rabbits kitchen wast materials, grasses, plant leaves etc. with their regular commercial feed. This will help you for reducing feeding cost.
  • Commercial rabbit farming in Kenya can be great source of income and employment. You can successfully use your family labor for rabbit farming business. Rabbit farming is also very pleasuring and entertaining.

For more information contact us and we will assist you.

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How to Start Orange and Lemon Farming in Kenya

Orange and Lemon farming in Kenya is a guaranteed money maker for serious farmers. These fruits belong to the citrus family. The cultivation of these fruits is a long term investment. Because they are tree crops, they require a longer waiting time. This can take upwards of 3 to 6 years before they start to bear fruits. However, the length of time it takes depends on the variety. There are several varieties of oranges and lemon. These also include genetically modified ones which have been fairly recent. Also these trees range in sizes.

Typically, there are those that range from 17 to 23 feet tall as well as the dwarf varieties. These reach a height that ranges from 8 to 12 feet. Our focus here is to guide you on how to start orange and lemon farming in Kenya.

These have a high market value in Kenya. They are rich sources of Vitamin C which is a water soluble nutrient that improves body immunity. Orange and lemon are consumed in a variety of ways. They can be consumed fresh by peeling off the skin or pressed for juice. They are also used to make lemonades as well as marmalade. A good news about these citrus fruits is that you can cultivate them anywhere in Kenya.

The weather makes it very favorable. Cultivating them for economic purposes requires a sizeable land. This is to ensure adequate spacing for the trees. Orange and lemon trees grow best on sandy-loam soils. Therefore this should be one of the criteria to look out for when selecting a land.

Economic Value of Citrus Fruits In Kenya

Kenya has been rated as one of the biggest  citrus producing country in the world. This 2007 ranking by the Food and Agricultural Organization places local production at around 1M tonnes. Although this has been the case, little is done by way of value addition. Thankfully a lot has changed since then. Demand has grown for more investments in this sector.

This is due to its several economic benefits. These include its pulp being used as livestock feeds, and its peels used to make vinegar, lactic acid, citric acid and feed yeast among others. The rind oil which comes out from the peel is a valuable oil in the international market. Furthermore, the leaves and bark of citrus are known to have medicinal value. Growing a plantation is a good way of harnessing its many benefits.

Choice of Land is Critical

Choosing a suitable land should come first. It is advisable to take your time when doing this. This is because it can significantly impact on how well your trees grow. As mentioned earlier, sandy-loam soils are an excellent choice. A clay content of 10 to 40 percent is ideal.  However an easier way to know how good a soil would be is to observe other trees around. If surrounding trees look well nourished, then such land is likely to be good for this purpose.

Soil drainage is another important consideration to make. Citrus trees thrive on well-drained soils. Therefore, you should avoid water-logged areas. While some water-logged areas are visually evident, others are not.

How then do you ascertain the drainage capacity of the soil? An easy way to do so is to simply dig a hole 2 meters deep and 1 meter in diameter. The hole should be filled with water and observed. The land should be avoided if it takes more than 48 hours to drain. The ideal time frame should be from 24 to 36 hours. This internal drain test forestalls the likelihood of your citrus trees being affected by the soil drainage structure. In addition to the above, purchasing a land for this venture would be cheaper in remote areas. Going for lands located in the city would be significantly expensive.

Planting your Lemon and Oranges

There are two ways to do this. You can either decide to buy young trees from Oxfarm.co.ke nurseries or grow the plants from the seeds. This takes a longer time; however, it saves you from mistakes of buying unwanted varieties. If you choose to plant the seeds yourself, you should buy your desired citrus fruits consisting of oranges and lemon. You should also choose your preferred varieties. These can be the dwarf or standard varieties. After harvesting the seeds, they should be soaked apart in water.

You need to separate these into 2 categories for easy identification. These should be left in the water overnight. A nursery should be prepared, and the seeds planted half an inch deep. You can use polythene bags as the nursery.

Sandy-loam soil rich in organic matter should be packed into the bags. Each of these should hold a seed or two. The polythene bags should be punctured to allow for easy drainage of water. After planting your seeds half an inch deep, it should be watered daily. Orange seeds will typically germinate 14 days or two weeks after planting. Optimal conditions are necessary for germination. This include availability of water, a well-drained soil and the right temperature. Luckily the temperature in Kenya is ideal for germination. The young tree should remain in the polythene for up to 3 months after which it should be transplanted.

Top Skills farmers need to be successful in Kenya

Transplanting and Spacing

The next step to take is to transplant your young trees to their permanent location. It is necessary to have your farm fenced before this step. This is necessary to keep animals at bay. Without this provision, your trees may be damaged by goats, sheep or cattle. For the long term, a fence is necessary to avoid unauthorized access from people. The soil should be dug half a meter deep and rich organic matter mixed with the soil removed from the hole.

The young tree should be lowered, and the polythene torn from around the tree. The compact earth should be covered/filled at the bottom and sides by the soil mixed with organic matter. A little depression at the top should be created for holding water.

Spacing should be such that it allows for maximum allowance for blossoming of the plants. Dwarf citrus trees require lesser spacing than standard sized trees. Dwarf trees are spaced 6 to 10 feet apart while standard trees require a spacing of 12 to 25 feet apart. This is necessary because as they grow, they take up more space.

How to care for Your Trees

The waiting time for your trees to mature can be significant. This normally takes years; from 3 to 10 years depending on the variety. Our variety only takes 2 and ½ years to start producing fruits. By providing proper care, chances of realizing maximum production capacity are significantly increased. Orange trees do not attain maximum production immediately. It starts with a few and increases over time. There are diseases which may attack your trees and would require urgent treatment.

Some common ones include citrus canker which causes lesions on the fruits, citrus mold; responsible for blackening and wilting of leaves, and citrus tristeza which causes stunted growth. There are several other types which require urgent treatment such as spraying of insecticides. For detailed information on treatments, the Federal Ministry of Environment under the Department of Forestry will be of immense help.

Earn more than 10 million per acre with 40k investment.

Cost Implications of Orange and Lemon Farming in Kenya

Orange and lemon farming requires significant investments. Land will take up a major part of your expenses. However, if you have a land, then you would have saved yourself a significant expenditure

If you prefer to buy young trees from us, they only cost ksh 150 per plant. Multiplying these by the number of stands you need will give you a figure. Other expenses you may incurs for treatment and care will range from 5,000 to 10,000. The best part to this investment is that it is a one-time investment needs not be repeated unless you want to plant more citrus plantations.

Profit Potential for Orange and Lemon Farming

Orange and lemon farming can be highly rewarding if done properly. Ideally you can plant up to 150 orange stand per acre. Maximum production is only attained after your trees must have produced over 4 to 5 times. Each tree can produce over 100 kg at peak production. Each of these goes for over Ksh 5000 depending on market forces.

Multiplying these by 150, an acre of orange and lemon plantation can generate Ksh750,000. With more emphasis on value addition, and with the establishment of more fruit juice companies, there is a greater chance for more earnings from citrus plantations. This is a worthwhile venture to consider as it has long term benefits.

In case you are in need of seedlings, don’t fail to contact us.

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Top Skills farmers need to be successful in Kenya

Farming in Kenya is considered as one of the oldest human professions. Regrettably, this noble job of producing food has somehow went out of fashion. In most counties in Kenya, farming and agriculture in general is seen as a one-way ticket to poverty and drudgery. Young people are abandoning the countryside to seek better opportunities in urban areas.

However, Oxfarm in its research recently have met more and more young people who are taking farming as a profession and as a practical source of profit. This is mostly because of the change in the perspective of how young people see farming.

This positive view of agriculture has increased with the growth of global population. A bigger the population means more people to feed, and therefore more food to produce. Organic food is also gaining popularity due to its high nutritional benefit.

Along these lines, the need to produce food locally is also seen as a sustainable solution to the ever-increasing food requirement. Recently H.E President Uhuru Kenyatta launched his Agenda 4, and named food security as one of them. Although farming is faced by many challenges in Kenya, it still stands as one of the major pillars of Kenyan economy

Different peoples have different perspectives on what they think they must know while planning to start farming. From a management and marketing perspective, here are few tips to consider — whether you are new to farming or have been farming your whole life.

Make Farming plans

In order to have a successful farming operation, especially in today’s farm economy, it’s essential to have a plan ­— and more than one, at that.

Make a business plan and stick to it. This is a living document, so refer to it throughout the year and make changes as needed.

A marketing plan will help you decide what products you are planning to sell, when and where you will sell them (grain elevator, farmers markets, wholesale, restaurants).

A risk management plan is essential. Accidents happen, people get sick, equipment breaks, the weather is unpredictable — in short, life happens, so plan for the worst.

Make an operations plan. Think about all the activities needed to make your business successful and who will be in charge of what tasks. I.e. who will keep the books, who will run the parlor, who will do the field work, who will run the breeding program, etc.

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Cash flow

Selling agricultural products is often a cash business and you need to be careful with all that money. Create a plan that tracks every penny you earn and spend and create ways to get that cash into the bank.

Capital

Farm equipment and livestock equipment, as well as livestock itself, are expensive but they are essential investments for the farm. Think through your major purchases, determine how you will finance them and how that investment will benefit the farm.

Support system

Surround yourself with people who will pick you up when you are down but also give you tough love if you are headed in the wrong direction. Find fellow farmers and business professionals outside of farming who can give you good, honest advice from a fresh perspective.

Focus

Pick one enterprise that you really like, that you’re good at, and has money-making potential. There are only 24 hours in a day, so spend your time on the ones that make your business successful. Don’t stretch yourself thin by getting too diversified when you are not ready. The same goes for markets: Focus your time in places that are the most profitable for you.

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Analytical and Critical Thinking Skills

Almost anyone can learn how to grow crops or manage livestock, but good analytical skills are the difference between simply going through the motions and thinking issues through and doing tasks well. For example, in the ever-changing landscape of farming (literally and figuratively), an organic farmer will use comprehensive skills to monitor and assess the quality of their land, crops or livestock and to solve problems as they arise.

As a farmer, you often must think on the fly, so great critical thinking skills are also key. For example, can you think your way around tough weather conditions appropriately?

Excellent analytical and critical thinking skills will allow you to analyze the toughest situations, gather new information and formulate a plan that may be outside of the box. You won’t be able to solve every organic farm problem with a textbook.

Be flexible

Don’t be afraid to change your plans when things are not working. Review your farm plans and make the changes necessary to continue to make your operation successful.