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Can I do fruit farming as a side hustle?

All of us need some extra cash. Working with nature will help build a healthy lifestyle for yourself while getting paid on top of that. Farming enables you to have your produce, spend time outdoors enjoying the scenery and fresh air, and meet new people in your community.

Why fruits farming?

Fruit growing have following economic and nutritional advantages. High productivity: High yield per unit area: From a unit area of land more yield is realized from fruit crops than any of the agronomic crops. The average yields of Papaya, Banana and Grapes are 10 to 15 times more than that of agronomic crops.

Beekeeping:

Pollination is the highest agricultural contributor to yields worldwide,
contributing far beyond any other agricultural management practice. Thus, bees
and other pollinators make important contributions to agriculture. Pollinators
affect 35 percent of global agricultural land, supporting the production of 87
of the leading food crops worldwide. Plus, pollination-dependent crops are five
times more valuable than those that do not need pollination. OxfarmAg Ltd gives free beehives for any packages purchased. http://oxfarm.co.ke/product-category/oxfarm-packages/

Tips that can help you achieve optimal results while doing fruit farming as a side hustle

Fruit farming as a side hustle is such an amazing part-time job that can give you enough income. You just need to follow the tips below:

  • Analyze the climate in the region and ensure that it favors the crop you want to grow
  • Ensure that soils are fertile
  • Study how different fruits perform in the region
  • Decide on the crops that are most suitable for your soils
  • Purchase certified high-quality seedlings from certified nurseries
  • Let the experts do the planting for you (OxfarmAg Ltd will help you kick start your fruit farming agribusiness and provide you with timely agronomy support)
  • Start small since this field requires patience and adequate knowledge about planting crops before entering into business. Furthermore, starting with a larger area will only increase expenses without bringing more revenue because of bigger maintenance costs for equipment and other supplies.
  • Invest in innovative solutions – To minimize the time required on the farm, you should adopt innovative tools such as automated irrigation and fertilization systems, precision agriculture, and sensor technology.
  • Expand gradually by investing in high-yielding fruit trees first until you reach the point where your earning exceeds your investment then keep growing from there or expand another acre if possible but remember that expansion should be done once every two years.
  • Invest in technology, fruit farming is much easier to do as compared to other side hustles. It takes a few months before you can harvest and sell them so there’s no long waiting period as opposed to starting your own business right now. You just have to prepare the soil, water plants once in a while, and tie branches using twigs for support, especially if you are investing in strawberries or grapes, employ proper management practices, embrace innovative strategies, and enjoy the profitability of fruit farming.

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CONTROLLING WEEDS IN STRAWBERRIES

Introduction

Weeds can be a hazard to strawberry production in many ways. They compete with strawberry plants for moisture, nutrients, and light. Strawberry plants are dependent on open space for good light penetration, good water drainage to prevent crown rot, and room for the plants to grow. To achieve this, it is necessary to control weed growth.

Strawberries are planted in raised beds to keep the fruit off the soil. As the berries grow, their foliage can touch the ground, making them more susceptible to weed invasions. To prevent weed growth in strawberries, you must take proactive measures before they even sprout their first leaf.

Watch for different weed varieties

Preventing weed growth in strawberries is crucial for strawberry fields, but some weeds are undesirable even if they’re easy to deal with. For example, wild morning glories spread rapidly by vines that grow into strawberry plant crowns and choke them out. In cases like this where a particular species of weed is particularly aggressive, it may make sense to try a different method of control on those plants rather than going through the whole field and risking damage from other varieties of weeds at the same time.

If you use herbicides, make sure you apply them at the right time and in the correct manner. If they’re applied too early or late, they won’t work as well. Throughout the growing season, strawberry plants will be especially vulnerable to weed growth if their leaves are nipped by frosts or damaged by hail storms. When this happens, weeds can grow into a thick patchwork that creates a monoculture of unwanted vegetation within a field of strawberries that would otherwise be producing high yields.

Before Planting

Weed seeds can be present in virtually any type of soil, so growers need to conduct a preliminary inspection of an area before planting strawberries there. One method is called “walkover scouting” where pairs of people walk through strawberry fields with wide spacing between each other and use their feet to feel for weeds that may have already sprouted or ones that are about to come up. If you find any seedlings, try using one of the weed control methods below:

  • Pull out weeds by hand while the soil is still moist
  • Use pre-emergent herbicide to kill any weed seeds before they sprout

After Planting

Applying a pre-emergent herbicide after planting will not prevent weeds from invading strawberries, but it can kill any new arrivals. When applying this type of chemical, be sure to follow manufacturer instructions for use near strawberries. Once weeds reach about 3 inches in height, you can pull them up and remove them from the field, or cut them with a mower and leave the vegetation on top of the ground where it’ll eventually break down to a manageable size.

Keep Weeds Manageable Using Mulch

You can also prevent weed growth in strawberries by utilizing mulch around the plants, but this may not be an option for organic growers because of the risks associated with using artificial chemicals. Strawberries have shallow roots that benefit from being kept warm and moist. In addition to weeds, straw mulch helps reduce evaporation as well as regulate soil temperature, which is why it’s been used since ancient times. There are many ways you can manage strawberry beds using mulch:

  • Straw bale gardening – Grow strawberries between rows of straw bales and keep them off the ground where they won’t come into contact with weed seeds or soil
  • Weed fabric – Use a type of impermeable weed fabric that prevents seeds from poking through the ground and growing
  • Mulch mat – Take sheets of black plastic and cover the rows in between strawberry plants, then push straw mulch over the edges to prevent it from blowing away or seeping into the soil

If you’re Growing Strawberries organically…

Regular herbicides should never be used on organic strawberry crops. Instead, try tying up weeds with something like baling twine so you can trim them off once they die out. Be sure not to leave any living vegetation in your strawberry field because it could eventually begin to regrow and spread its seed throughout your crop, making it harder to keep weeds at bay.

Regardless of how you choose to combat weedy invaders, remember that weeding and killing weeds should be done early and often for best results. The most important time to keep weeds out of strawberry beds is between March and May, when weeds are at their prime and strawberries are just starting to emerge from the ground. Keeps a close eye on any new growth for hampering weeds so they can’t take hold in your crop, thus limiting the damage they could potentially cause during future growing seasons.

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What should I do to become a better fruit farmer?

Should one just purchase fruit tree seedlings and just plant? The answer is no, a good farmer knows what to plant at a particular season. A good farmer also knows why he/she is planting certain fruits and who his/her targets are. A good farmer also knows when to do the planting so that he/she can get the desired yield.

With short rains around the corner, it is crucial to purchase seedlings now so that by the time it is raining the fruit trees are already on the planted.

Why is it important to plant before it starts raining? Fruit tree seedlings always have sensitive root structure. Agronomists always recommended to never take the seedling from a favorable environment to a non-favorable environment.

Did you know planting before the full onset of the rains always comes with more pros than cons?

First, as a farmer you will have easy task in land preparation and also easy task during the planting.

Secondly, this helps you as the farmer to ensure full maximization of the rains from day one till the day when the last drop will be dropping.

Lastly, Planting the fruit trees before onset of rains aids with the proper root establishment in the soil so that in the event the rains happen to come in excess levels, then the plants have higher chances of evading root rot which is a serious disease common in water logged soils.

Engage our various regional sales managers.

Western Region

0706222888 Whatsapp link https://wa.me/c/254706222888

Nairobi Region

Visit us at Ridgeways along Kigwa road. 0769623300 or Whatsapp https://wa.me/c/254769623300

Nakuru Region

Visit us at our farm around white house. 0740000044/ 0758944535 or Whatsapp https://wa.me/c/254740000044

Mt Kenya region

Visit Mkulima wa Nyeri farm at Tetu, Githakwa. 0742194880 or Whatsapp https://wa.me/c/254742194880

Eldoret Region

Visit us around rupa mall area, Contacts 0710588060 / 0757800641 or Whatsapp https://wa.me/c/254710588060

Eastern and Coast Region

0769623300 / 0740000044 WhatsApp link https://wa.me/c/254706222888

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Understand your Soil before Investing in Fruit Production

Fruit farming is a lucrative industry that raking in billions of dollars every year. However, farmers cannot enjoy the profitability of the agribusiness if they do not understand the conditions of their soil. With the right soil, it’s easy to solve the challenges of nutrient deficiency and evade several diseases.

Understand the soil properties

Most fruits flourish in the following conditions:

Deep, fertile, well-drained soils

Plants such as macadamia, avocado, tree tomato, and apples flourish in deep and well-drained soils. Adequate drainage helps prevent the development of fungal diseases and root rot. Before planting, it’s important to perform a soil test to understand the soil fertility, drainage, texture, and other soil properties. The drainage should be molded before planting.

A pH range of between 5.5 to 7.5

Fruit trees are easily affected by the alkalinity, acidity, and salinity of the soil. Plants perform best at a pH range of between 5.5 to7.5. After the soil is tested, a professional will determine whether the soil is suitable for the crop you want to grow or not. After assessing soil health and pH, professionals and agronomists will help you devise the best technique to adjust the soil pH and to maintain ideal soil conditions in the orchard. Some soil-improvement techniques that can be used include:

  • Increasing the organic matter with manure, crop rotation, cover crops, and adding compost manure
  • Applying nitrogen-based fertilizers, especially during the early and vegetative stages
  • Adding lime to the soil to neutralize the soil pH

Get your soil tested by professionals

When the soil has attained the optimum conditions for fruit and vegetable production, achieving a healthier fruit season becomes easier. It’s not possible to fully understand the soil conditions by just looking, smelling, or feeling it. Commercial fruit farmers, especially those that practice large-scale production invest in regular soil testing to ensure that they achieve optimum performance and production. Integrating regular soil testing with regenerative and sustainable soil practices will minimize the costs of amending the soil and the need for fertilizers.

It’s important to understand your soil throughout the plant’s growing season. Before planting, soil testing will help you understand the nutrients which are present and absent in the soil. This will help both smallholder and large-scale growers to devise effective manuring and fertilizer application programs. Besides, it will help farmers determine whether the pH is suitable for fruit production or it needs to be adjusted. Also, soil testing will help the growers to understand the soil’s ability to resist diseases and any soil-borne diseases that are likely to occur.

 Organic- friendly soil fumigation

Soil fumigation is an important practice to prevent soil-borne and bacterial diseases in plants such as apples, citrus, macadamia, grapes, and avocado.

After testing and treating your soil, the next step is to select the most suitable variety.

Choose appropriate varieties based on the soil properties

The growing conditions of different varieties vary. Apart from the climatic conditions and geographical location, the choice of the varieties selected is also influenced by the geographical location and soil properties. It’s recommended to understand the soil requirements before planting fruit seedlings.

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Tips that can help you devise effective crop protection strategies in fruit farming

Crop protection is a challenge for most tree nut, fruit, and vegetable farmers. Attacks by pests, fungal and bacterial diseases, depleted soil, and harsh climatic conditions cause massive damage to crops in different parts of the country causing significant losses for farmers. There are various strategies you should implement to ensure optimum crop protection.

Develop a regular monitoring weed, pest, and disease monitoring program

To achieve sustainable crop production, it’s important to invest in crop monitoring. It helps growers to detect pests and possible disease development, understand the performance of their crops, and helps them create resilient farming systems. Crop monitoring minimizes crop protection costs which can arise when plants are heavily infested by pests or attacked by diseases. In fruit production, it’s important to develop a centralized and independent monitoring system to help growers devise successful pest, disease, and weed control strategies.

Manage pests and diseases on time

Pests and diseases can adversely affect crop performance and overall production. At times, they can destroy the entire produce fruits causing losses to the farmer.

  • Pests and diseases in fruit trees can be controlled in various ways such as:
  • Planting high-quality varieties that are resistant to various pests and diseases
  • Defending young plants against pest and disease pressures
  • Use chemical control, especially in severe cases to control pests and disease development. However, pesticides and fungicides should be applied at controlled levels. For instance, using copper-based pesticides extensively can cause damage to newly emerged leaves of pear, plum, and apple trees.
  • Embrace cultural pest control
  • Introduce beneficial insects such as ladybugs to minimize the populations of pests such as aphids, mites, and scales.

Managing weather risks

Crops are always susceptible to weather risks and unpredictable climatic conditions. Phenomena such as hail, drought, floods, and extreme temperatures can cause serious crop damage, especially in the early, flowering, and fruit development stages. Before venturing into fruit farming, it’s important to understand the weather patterns in your region and to understand the ecological requirements of the tree you are planning to grow. Fruit trees such as citrus, avocado, and macadamia can tolerate harsh climatic conditions while strawberries, grapes, and watermelon are easily affected. Understanding your climate will help you plant crops that are suitable for your region and to prepare the field for harsh weather conditions.

Weed Management

Weeds deprive the grown fruit trees, competing with them for nutrients and water. Besides, some weeds carry diseases while others act as hosts for pests such as Tuta absoluta. Each year, farmers lose a significant percentage of their harvests because of weeds, pests, and diseases. They can be controlled in various ways such as:

  • Mulching
  • Planting cover crops such as legumes
  • Chemical control using herbicides
  • Biological and agrotechnical control

Stay ahead in Fruit farming with Oxfarm Ltd solutions

Whether you are a novice organic fruit grower seeking crop protection strategies or an established convectional farmer looking to adapt to the changing climate and rising water shortages, Oxfarm has different solutions to help your crops flourish. Apart from drip irrigation systems and high-quality seedlings, Oxfarm also provides enticing packages to help you establish your commercial orchard and helps you devise effective pest, disease, and farm management strategies. As a way of helping farmers enjoy the productivity and profitability of fruit farming, Oxfarm provides an extensive selection of crop protection solutions that farmers can use in their orchards.

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The Unconventional Relationship Between Fruit Farmers and the Changing Climate

The relationship between a farmer and the weather varies from people who are not affected or depend on the changing weather conditions. For people who love outdoor activities such as hiking and traveling, a sunny day is all they would wish. However, farmers want balanced weather conditions, with moderate rainfall alternating with a sunny day.

On most occasions, the relationship can be hard to describe since the weather has become indispensable and unpredictable. Besides, the ecological requirements for different crops vary.

All farmers require rainfall

The water requirements for different crops, which mean that most crops show a different response when the water levels are beyond what they require. Farmers usually pray for balanced temperatures, sunshine, and rainfall for their crops to achieve maximum productivity. However, this does not happen and they have to adapt to the unpredictable weather patterns and adopt various strategies to achieve the balance.

Working with different weather requirements

Fruit trees require different weather conditions to flourish, which means that farmers have different weather needs. For farmers rearing livestock and growing multiple crops, the view of optimum weather becomes more complex.

A rainy season with cold-weather helps out thirsty crops. However, another crop might require a warm, dry spell to fully mature for harvest. For instance, crops such as grapes require temperature shifts between day and night to preserve their acidity and to lengthen the growing season, giving them more time to mature. However, extreme temperature variations in other crops such as watermelon and citrus promote disease development. Before investing in fruit trees, farmers should first understand the ecological requirements of the plant they want to grow and the soil and weather conditions in their region.

The need for conversation in extreme weather unifies farmers

With the increasing effects of climate change and extreme global warming, predicting weather patterns has become difficult. No farmer hopes for harsh weather conditions such as extreme cold or heat, drought, and flooding.

When a certain region is affected by extreme conditions, the need for conversations to devise better ways to adapt to the changing climate brings different farmers together. For fruit farmers, when severe weather conditions strike, farmers from different agricultural communities come together to share ideas and resources to cushion themselves from the impact. For instance, prolonged heavy rainfall favors the development of diseases such as powdery mildew, anthracnose, and root rot in plants such as strawberries, grapes, and watermelon. Prolonged drier seasons with extreme temperatures favor the growth of thrips which can cause massive damage to plants, especially when they attack fruit trees during the flowering stage. Such uncertain times bring farmers together to share ideas on better strategies they can implement in their farms to keep their crops healthy and productive.

Prioritizing on weather monitoring helps in achieving success

The weather requirements for different crops vary. Some crops require a certain temperature range to germinate, grow, and form fruits. Temperatures, humidity, rainfall, and wind can be used to predict the occurrence of various diseases and pests. Investing in weather monitoring can help farmers obtain essential information to assist them in devising planting plans, crop protection and farm management programs, and harvesting strategies. This helps the crops to achieve optimum performance and to avoid yield losses.

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A Blueprint For Success: Using Digital Tools in Entrepreneurship

Just like in other countries, Mozambique has also felt the impact of the novel coronavirus. It has been a difficult moment in most parts and many entrepreneurs such as Catarina Bie have struggled to keep their businesses running. Catarina’s shop in Maputo, Mozambique was on the verge of getting closed. Most of her customers disappeared when COVID-19 erupted. Things got worse to appoint that she was almost about to close her business – a decision that could have had a long-term impact on her family’s future. Fortunately, she got involved in digital technologies which introduced her to better approaches that helped her keep her business running.

A Shift to Digital

Millions of small businesses globally like Catarina’s have experienced challenges as COVID-9 cases increased. With social distancing and travel restrictions, it was hard to do business. Every industry was affected from agriculture to retail and supply chain to tourism. To keep the sales flowing and operations running, businesses turned online and mobile platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp became the new marketing hubs. In the agriculture sector, shifting to digital tools not only maintained the sales, locally and internationally, but has also enhanced crop productivity.

A Blueprint for Success

However, some groups find it difficult transitioning from traditional methods to digital formats.  To overcome these challenges, there are a few factors that should be put into consideration. They include:

  • Understand your needs as an entrepreneur and familiarize with various technologies in your field: These days, most entrepreneurs have smartphones which means they are connected to the internet. With adequate knowledge, they can turn their smartphones in to a marketing hub through platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp. Before investing in technology, start-up and well-established businesses should first understand their needs and weigh different technologies that they can use to improve their services and operations.
  • Choose the delivery methods and the most suitable technologies: To keep the entrepreneurs engaged, an interactive structure such as a WhatsApp or Facebook group is important. This can provide an ideal ground for various businesses to share ideas and market their product. After weighing down different technologies, the next step is to select the most suitable technologies to integrate into the business. Embracing marketing platforms such as social media platforms can be a blueprint for success.
  • Measure the effectiveness with regular feedback from various groups: If you are using marketing platforms and your products are ordered online, you should measure the effectiveness of your marketing strategy and technologies using the generated returns and feedback from the customers. You can even create a WhatsApp or Facebook group to interact with regular customers.

Catarina invested a part of her savings in the business. She bought a few chairs to attract and accommodate more customers outside. Catarina says that she could have thought it’s possible to make her small business profitable during the pandemic. The new technological approaches helped her reach customers despite the COVID-19 pandemic. “Social media has helped me improve my business skills,” she cites. She can now afford a smile as she looks at a group of people settling down in one of her new outdoor tables and order a meal.

Order your favourite fruit seedlings from oxfarm.co.ke

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Top 5 sustainable farming and environmental-friendly practices

Large-scale agriculture has caused massive destruction to the environment. With the rising awareness of environmental harm, most farmers are shifting to eco-friendly practices. Intense carbon outputs, extensive pesticide use, and massive deforestation to create room for farming have fueled the negative impacts of climate change. This has forced policymakers to advocate for sustainable and environmental-friendly practices to overcome the adverse effects. Currently, the demands of fruits have been increasing in the local and export market. To promote green environments, fruit farming can be a good measure to counter climate change and environmental pollution. Some top sustainable and eco-friendly practices include:

Permaculture

This incorporates growing fruits and cover crops in a way similar to how plants grow in natural environments. It involves extensive application of smart farming to enhance production efficiency and minimize wastage of resources. Permaculture includes growing cover crops such as grain and vegetables without tillage, planting fruit seedlings such as grapevines and strawberry on raised beds, and creating swales to hold water. 

Aquaponics & Hydroponics

These are innovative farming practices that incorporate planting fruits and vegetables without any soil. Plants are provided with water-soluble nutrients that are carried by water. Hydroponics contain sophisticated systems, especially in commercial fruit and vegetable farming. Once they are dissolved in the water, mineral solutions are absorbed by the plants’ roots and taken up to all the tissues. For effectiveness, hydroponic systems are integrated with aquaponics systems. Fish produce waste which provides nutrients that are required to enhance plant growth. He plants purify the water which then gets back to the aquaponics systems and the cycle begins again. This farming technique is efficient when growing vegetables and fruits such as strawberry. The method is not efficient for woody plants such as avocado and citrus.

Using Renewable Energy Resources

Sustainable farming involves the application of eco-friendly sources of energy such as solar power, wind power, or hydropower. In drier regions such as Moyale, Kitui, and Mandera, irrigation has to be done during the dry season to keep the plants growing. Solar panels can be used for power-pumping and fertigation systems. Hydroelectric power can be used to run farm machinery. Utilizing natural sources of energy to run farm equipment can help cut down the orchard management costs.

Crop Rotation

Planting one crop at the same place for a long time increases the chances of vegetable and plant diseases. Crop rotation and crop diversification can be used to minimize the chances of diseases such as bacterial wilt and rust. This practice can reduce fertilizer and chemical use.

Fruit farming

Agroforestry is one of the most efficient ways of promoting sustainable farming. Sustainable agriculture incorporates the application of syntropic agroforestry, regenerative farming, and forest gardens. Fruit farming is one of the most profitable agribusinesses. With the increasing awareness of green environments, planting profitable trees is the best way to promote agroforestry. This is a win-win situation for both the farmer and the environment. Growing fruit trees reduces carbon levels and enhances biodiversity. To the farmer, fruit trees can be a good source of income, especially when done as an agribusiness.

Sustainable farming is a key factor in minimizing climate change. Sustainability should be ensured to promote environmental protection and at the same time increasing production capabilities. Grow crops passion and practice smart passion farming in well-managed agroforestry systems. Promote biodiversity and invest in fruit farming. For high-quality seedlings, contact Oxfarm Ag Ltd and kickstart your farming agribusiness.

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How Demand and Supply Affect Profitability in Fruit Farming

Demand and Supply

Fruit farming industry is highly competitive as every farmer chases his opportunity to succeed. Farmers not only strive to produce high yields and high-quality fruits but also to sell their fruits at competitive prices and acquire higher profits. Most farmers face a challenge surviving on the local and export market due to factors of demand and supply.

When done as an agribusiness, fruit farming is a profitable venture that relies on natural processes. To achieve success, farmers should aim at employing unique farm management practices. Each practice can bring overwhelming results. These farm practices range from land preparation, planting, tree management during the vegetative growth stage, harvesting, marketing, and packaging. To get higher profits, farmers try to put the maintenance costs to a minimum.

What Should you Know Before Deciding on the Fruit to Plant?

Crop requirements – different fruits have varying requirements. For instance, strawberries, passion, and grapevines are more delicate and susceptible to damage compared to citrus and crop such macadamia. This means that more care is required by these plants. Different requirements illustrate that varying finances are required to manage these crops. Farmers should invest in crops that fit their financial possibilities.

Market – the demand for fruits varies depending on either on the season, nutritional value, and consumption. Markets for most agricultural produce are seasonal and only make good money when the demand is high and the supply is low.

Durability – Some crops such as strawberries and bananas are perishable and cannot be stored for longer periods. If farmers are not ready to adapt to fluctuations in the demand for perishable fruits, they should consider investing in fruits that can be stored for a certain period such as macadamia.

How does demand relate to supply in Fruit Farming?

 Demand describes the number of goods that a customer is willing to buy at a certain price at a given period. Supply means the amount of goods a farmer is ready to offer on the market at a given price and period. The relation between supply and demand determines the prices of fruits in the market. There are two concepts fruit farmers should know:

The Demand and Supply Determine the Market Price for Fruits

When farmers set high prices for a certain fruit, the demand and supply reduce. When they set low prices, the consumption increases hence an increase in demand and supply.

The market price determines the supply and demand for fruits

When the market price is high, the interest of farmers to invest in a certain crop will be high. What will happen later? Flooding in the market when the fruits mature in the same period leading to a sharp fall in prices. When the market price is low, the demand and supply will increase as the interest of consumers rises. At this time, few producers will show interest in the crop and hence the chances of selling at competitive prices when the crop matures are high. When the prices are low, farmers make less profit and at times are forced to sell at distress prices.

How do you Find a Balance Between Demand and Supply?

Demand and supply will always fall and rise until market equilibrium is achieved. For instance, if tangerine prices are too high, most consumers will shift to other fruits retailing at affordable prices. This will force the farmer to lower the prices until the demand for tangerines increases. When the demand and supply are balanced, the market is considered to be at equilibrium.

Farmers make more profits in markets that are not controlled. This is because the demand and supply dictate the market prices for fruits. Fruit farmers should regularly monitor demand and supply curves and turn the information into profit. Adequate information will help them regulate the entire market competition. For instance, if the supply of avocados to China is high, the prices will be low and hence they can shift to markets in Europe and Mauritius where there are less competition and better prices.

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A critical Issue in the Fruits Supply Chain Management

Fruits supply chain

The food and beverage industry has been growing rapidly as fruit and vegetable processing increases. As more processing plants are being set up, the global demand for fruits is expected to rise by more than 10% in the next 5 years. Fruits are extensively used in making products such as juices, jam, tomato sauce, cosmetics, and beverages such as wine.

The key issue, however, is how food supply chains are going to be managed by processing companies and farmers. How are the two groups going to maximize on quality and production of fruits and end products?

Sustainability when Outsourcing Agricultural Products

Managing supply chains is a difficult task from a business perspective. Challenges such as poor production and product quality are common when poor management techniques are employed. This results to food waste and losses. Some critical issues on quality and production management include: 

Harvesting Fruits too early or too late

Fruits should be harvested at the right time when they mature. However, some farmers tend to harvest fruits before they mature which is a common issue especially in the macadamia subsector. Most immature fruits end up being rejected by buyers. Also, some farmers harvest their fruits later on after maturity. What happens when they do this? Fruits such as watermelon, citrus, and pomegranates start splitting while other fruits become overripe and they start rotting.

Irregular shape and size of Fruits

Fertilization, manuring, and pest control management techniques employed determines the shape and size of fruits. Over-fertilization can make the fruits to be extremely large. Most customers will find this abnormal and only a small number will purchase the fruits. Poor management such as under-fertilization, pest control, and manuring will make the fruits have an irregular shape and small size. Buyer s also won’t be willing to buy that. This means the farmer will be forced to dispose a large chunk of the fruits meaning more losses.

Differences in knowledge and a dispersed supplier network

Crop production requires attention and clpose supervision especially when growing a fruit that you are growing for the first time or using new technologies. The fact that suppliers are in different geographical locations makes the agricultural supply chains complicated. The supplier network is made up of farmers with advanced knowledge and non-skilled ones. If the farmers are not careful, these suppliers can end up affecting their entire season.

Poor crop management

Poor disease and pest control, ineffective weed control, and failure to apply manure and fertilizers results to extremely low yields and poor product quality. Also, poor choice of seedlings can also result to poor performance, low yields, and a longer maturity of the fruit tree.

Maintain high product quality

High-quality products will always attract the attention of many buyers. To avoid losses, farmers have a role to play to maintain their market share in the local and export markets. To help farmers manage the fruit quality, sourcing companies should:

Have a common place to interact with farmers

With the advancements in technology, software have been developed which provide an ideal ground for farmers to interact. This can help in nurturing the relationship between farmers and buyers, companies, agronomists.

Equip farmers with management practices that they can utilize

Agronomy support is always important in fruit farming to help farmers employ proper orchard management techniques. Educating farmers will help them avoid unproductive practices and show them the methods they can use to improve productivity in their farms.

Present their requirements in clear terms

The export market is highly demanding and is quite keen when it comes to quality. Exporters should present the product requirements in understandable terms to help farmers know where they need to improve and how they can maximize on the product quality.

Ensure there is traceability and transparency to help farmers understand the performance of the export markets

A digital solution to enhance product quality

These days, farmers are migrating to digital agriculture. A cloud-based platform can be an ideal solution to improve production and product quality. An integrated management platform can help farmers have a common place to:

  • Market their produce – With a large number of potential customers in a single platform, buyers can select the most appropriate buyer for their produce.
  • Interact with other farmers, buyers, agronomists, and farm input suppliers – real-time communication in a common place can be an important environment for farmers to share or look for information. Also, farmers can know the best places to purchase seedlings and farm inputs.
  • Monitor performanceoxfarm online platform helps farmers monitor production crop traceability, and product quality. They can also monitor the performance of their crops and weather patterns. This will also help them know the best pest and disease control method to apply. While still communicating with other farmers, farmers can learn how they can ensure higher yields and high quality fruits.