Carbon is an important component that should be present in the soil. Human activities can either result in improved carbon storage or loss. Deforestation and decomposition of soil organic matter (SOM) contributes to the reduction of carbon levels in the soil. Deforestation removes the forest canopy increasing the soil temperatures when the ground becomes warmed up. The activity of the microbial decomposer community causes the decomposition of SOM in the absence of continual rates of carbon input. Loss of carbon input has increased Carbon (IV) Oxide (CO2) levels in the atmosphere. To maintain the carbon input in the soil, planting fruit trees is an important idea that farmers should put into consideration. Fruit trees not only help in capturing CO2 in the soil but also in keeping soil temperatures at optimum levels.
However, the rate at which a tree stores carbon varies depending on the rate at which the tree grows and how big the tree becomes. Carbon input levels are cause dictated by the capacity of the soil to store moisture, the rate at which water is lost through transpiration, evaporation, runoff, and the ability of the soil to absorb water. These factors are determined by the proportions of silt, clay, and sand. With the right mixture in the soil structure, there are many pores in the soil. Since soils such as clay soil have micropores, they can store more water compared to sandy soils which have macropores. Apart from surface crust and compaction, soils with a good soil structure tend to hold water longer. The amount of organic matter that breaks down into nutrients and carbon plays an important role in improving the water absorption rate.
How to maintain soil carbon levels
There are many agronomic management practices that farmers can employ to maintain soil carbon levels. These include:
- Minimizing tillage on the farm.
- Employing soil health and environmentally friendly farming practices.
- Promotion of farm forestry by planting fruit trees.
- adoption of environmental and soil health-friendly farming systems;
- Planting cover crops especially in farms with fruit trees to minimize water loss through evaporation.
- Mulching crops with synthetic materials or different forms of crop residues.
- Minimizing water and soil losses by erosion and surface runoff.
- Employing organic farming practices. Farmers can apply external organic matter such as biochar, compost, biosolids, manure, and mulch. Biosolids not only provide nutrients to the soil but also promote carbon storage. Extra soil carbon that is stored in the soil helps in capturing more moisture which means that plants will grow strong and healthy. Biowastes reduces the effects of drought on productivity and soil health.
- Adoption of integrated nutrient management practices to increase soil fertility.
Importance of soil carbon sequestration includes;
- It helps in reducing the emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs).
- It helps in minimizing CO2 emissions.
- It reduces nutrient losses.
- It helps in lowering atmospheric temperatures.
- It improves productivity and soil health.
- It creates a suitable biotic habitat.
- It helps in reducing soil erosion
- It enables and promotes root growth.
- It promotes water conservation by minimizing water loss through evaporation and runoff.
The agriculture sector can play an important role in reducing emissions of GHGs if suitable measures are adopted. Since soils with a high organic matter have higher carbon dioxide sequestration potential, healthy soils can help in fighting climate change. Farmers should ensure adopt regenerative agriculture to increase biodiversity, enhance ecosystem services, and enrich the soils. Fruit farming not only helps in storing soil carbon but can also be a lifetime venture. If you are planning to venture fruit farming, you should buy seedlings at Oxfarm Ltd.
Symptoms of nutrient deficiency are common to fruit farmers. However, multiple nutrition disorders can occur simultaneously which makes it complicated for farmers to diagnose production problems. To determine the nutrients that are deficient in the soil, farmers should have their soil analyzed by experts. Protein is an important element required by living organisms for growth and development. One of the elements present in proteins is Nitrogen, which is a component of chlorophyll, DNA, RNA, amino acids, alkaloids, and enzymes. In fruit farming, various nutrients play an important role in enhancing the growth and quality of fruits. Commercial fruit farming is being embraced in various parts of the country due to its high returns. Watermelon, for instance, is a fruit with a short maturity period, high yields, high demand, and ready market. The fruit is composed of 92 percent water, making watermelon a suitable fruit when it is hot.
The goal of every fruit farmer is to produce high-quality fruits that satisfy the consumers. For instance, melon consumers look for quality fruits with firm flesh which means that quality and firmness are paramount.
The quality of fruits is determined by the availability of nutrients. During the establishment, vegetative growth, flowering, and fruit development stage, balanced fertilizer and manure application. The availability of all the nutrients helps in producing firm and tasty fruits. These nutrients also boost the strength and elasticity of the fruits and hence a longer shelf life.
Some important nutrients that help in improving fruit firmness include:
During the early growth stage, a lot of calcium is required to enhance leaf production. Although a small percentage of calcium is found in the fruit, calcium should be maintained at 15% to minimize fruit cracking and maintain quality firmness. High levels of calcium help in thickening the cell walls and, therefore, a firm and high-quality fruit.
Magnesium is an
important nutrient for enhancing chlorophyll in plants. It stabilizes cell
membranes and enables the metabolism and movement of carbohydrates. Chlorosis
is a common symptom of magnesium deficiency whereby the leaves to turn from
green to yellow. If the magnesium deficiency prolongs, necrosis develops
between the veins making the leaves of the fruit trees to curl downwards. If
the deficiency continues, the leaves fall off, the plant weakens and eventually
dies. This is common in citrus trees. However, magnesium should be applied at a
balanced rate with Potassium, Ammonium, and Calcium to enhance the firmness of
Nitrogen plays an important role in enhancing the taste and sugar content of the fruits. However, excessive application of nitrogen results in rots and rind blemishes.
Phosphorus enhances flower formation, root growth, and fruit setting. It provides energy to the plants required for photosynthesis and respiration in form of ATP. Also, it helps the plants to produce thicker skins.
Potassium helps in increasing the sugar content of the fruit at harvest. It enables the activation of enzymes for the production of sugars and proteins. It also helps in maintaining the turgidity of cells hence making photosynthesis efficient. In strawberry, potassium increases the acid and sugar content, making the berries tastier. Potassium regulates transpiration ( the opening and closing of stomata) and enhances the translocation of nitrates.
Manganese promotes photosynthesis in plants. It facilitates the formation of radicals during water splitting. The biochemical process happens when manganese contributes to the necessary electrons. Manganese deficiency can be facilitated by environmental factors such as extremely hot weather, ozonated water used for irrigation, and poisonous gases from motor vehicles.
Zinc plays an essential role in promoting protein synthesis, optimal fruit set, and fruit quality. It enhances the growth of shoots and roots of plants. Deficiency of zinc results to reduced fruit size, fruit number, and decreased yields. Also, it results to necrosis, and veinal chlorosis. The availability of Zinc is reduced by bicarbonates and high pH. Zinc foliar fertilizers are more effective compared to soil fertilizers.
Boron is required in plants for auxin activity, cell division, the formation of cell walls, xylem differentiation, the formation of apical meristem, metabolism of nucleic acid, and inhibition of callose formation. It also enhances reproduction and pollination and counters the harmful effects of Aluminum.
Since the nutrients
play different roles, proper fertilization should be ensured. For instance,
farmers should apply nitrogen-based fertilizers to enhance the leaf color,
fruit quality, and to increase the nitrogen content in the soil. Farmers should
also use fertilizers rich in calcium, phosphorus, and Magnesium, Zinc, and
Boron to maintain steady growth and high-quality fruits.
Over the years, the demand for watermelon has been increasing rapidly, both locally and internationally. Watermelon has become a crucial part of most fruit salads. It is common to find melon slices served in groceries, alongside lunches during weddings, conferences, cooperate retreats, and also at homes. The success of watermelon farming, however, depends on the quality of fruits and the overall yield. When the fruits are affected by pests and diseases, most likely, nobody will be willing to buy them. Anthracnose is a destructive fungal disease that can ruin your watermelon farming venture if it is not controlled. If not controlled, it can damage the fruits and lead to vine death. When the plants are severely infected, especially when there are numerous lesions, anthracnose causes vine defoliation leading to low-quality fruits and a significant yield reduction.
Symptoms of Anthracnose in Watermelon
This disease is common in cucurbits such as melon and cucumber. At its early stages, water-soaked spots appear on the leaves which become brown as the disease progresses. Eventually, these spots darken and expand over the surfaces with the foliar lesions developing cracked centers. When stems and petioles are infected, they develop shallow, elongated, tan lesions that girdle the stem resulting to plant wilting. Infected fruits form circular, sunken, black lesions, providing an ideal environment for the formation of acervuli (small fruiting bodies). Under humid conditions, acervuli produce conidia which makes the lesions to have a pinkish color, a unique characteristic of anthracnose. When the disease gets to the pedicels of young fruits, the fruit either abort or shrivel.
Conditions for Disease development
Colletotrichum orbiculare, the causative agent of anthracnose, mostly comes in the seed or infected crop debris. The fungus can be spread by overhead irrigation, insects, splashing water, farm equipment, and field workers. The development of the disease is favored by warm weather and high humidity. The optimum temperature for anthracnose is 24°C. Later infection may inhibit the marketability of the fruits during storage, shipping, and display.
How to Control Anthracnose in Watermelon
The disease develops and spreads in warm, moist conditions, although the fungus can be carried in seeds, and infected debris. Infected vines should, therefore, be removed from the farm and destroyed. Farmers can also implement a comprehensive preventative fungicide program to prevent anthracnose.
Non-chemical control method
- Avoid composting infected plants. Instead, they should be removed and destroyed.
- Use varieties resistant from anthracnose.
- Plant certified watermelon seeds and healthy plants.
- Plant trees in well-drained soil.
- Plant the watermelon in well-drained soils.
- Ensure constant crop rotation with non-host plants such as cucurbits and French beans every 2 to 3 years.
- To prevent wetting the foliage, avoid overhead irrigation. Also, avoid touching the plants when they are wet.
- Control all weeds especially the volunteer cucurbits since they can host the anthracnose fungus.
- Control all weeds, especially wild and volunteer cucurbits
- Avoid wounding to prevent post-harvest losses since anthracnose can develop and the wounded part of the harvested fruit.
If the disease is controlled, watermelon farming is a disease that can rake you millions of money. The demand for watermelon is yet to be met and hence this is the venture one can consider.
The agriculture sector has a major contribution to the country’s economy. Horticulture, for instance, generates more than $1 billion annually. The demand for food is high not only locally but also internationally. However, food production is determined by the soil health. The primary indicator of soil health is soil pH. The yields from the farm and what you can grow can be predicted by the soil pH. It is therefore important to manage the soil pH for your crop.
Factors Affecting PH
Most crops perform well when the pH levels are neutral, ranging between 6 to 7.5. Low pH can inhibit the nitrogen cycle. Some inherent factors affecting soil pH include soil texture, mineral content, and climate. Minerals in the parent material determine the pH of newly formed soils. When the rainfall amounts are high, the soil pH decreasing as a result of acidification caused by leaching. In dry environments, the soil pH is either alkaline or neutral since weathering and leaching are low. However, soils with high organic matter content have a high buffering capacity and hence more resistant to changes in pH. Mostly, sandy soils contain little organic matter content leading to high rates of infiltration and water percolation and low buffering capacity. This makes them susceptible to acidification.
Nitrogen levels in the soil also affect the soil pH. Some sources of nitrogen such as manure, fertilizers, and legumes either form or contain ammonium. As the ammonium is being converted into nitrates, during the nitrification process, it releases H ions. The nitrate provided or formed combines with basic cations such as potassium, calcium and magnesium leaching the soil. These bases are replaced or removed by the H ions and in the process the soil becomes acidic. The application of sulfur fertilizers increases soil acidity making the pH levels to become lower.
Know Your Levels
Farmers need to know the pH levels of their soils to know which management techniques to employ. Regular soil testing is therefore important to help you know the crops that you can grow. Soil testing also helps you know the best time to apply fertilizers, the quantity to use, and the nutrients required by the soil. To have an accurate soil pH of the farm, multiple soil tests are recommended.
Different crops thrive well at varying soil pH. For instance, legumes require neutral pH ranging from 6.5 to 7.0. Grains perform well at a pH that is slightly acidic to neutral – 6.0 to 7.0.
Some of the measures that can be applied to raise the soil pH or reduce acidification include:
- Liming to increase the pH of acidic soils. Lime not only corrects the soil acidity but also provides the soil with important nutrients such as Magnesium and Calcium, and prevents elements like Aluminium and Manganese from harmful to plants.
- Proper fertilization: fertilizers should be applied as per the plant’s needs. This is because elements such as nitrogen and sulfur can raise soil acidity. Proper irrigation management should be used to minimize the leaching of nitrates.
- To minimize the acidifying effects of nitrogen fertilizers, farmers should diversify crop rotation.
- Applying irrigation water and manure and other organic material that have a high content of calcium or magnesium bicarbonates.
Using cover crops, diverse rotation with high-residue crops, and applying solid manure improves soil buffering capacity, increases organic matter content, and minimizes changes in soil pH. Due to the global-positioning, solid infrastructure, and favorable climate, the agriculture industry is growing at a fast rate. However, the farmers will not be able to meet the demand for food if the soil pH is not maintained. Soil testing should be put into emphasis to ensure that food production does not reduce.
Grafting is a technique that is used to combine two plants to produce the desired rootstock, providing trees with the desired fruit characteristics. Grafted plants develop resistance to soil-borne diseases such as bacterial wilt, southern blight, fusarium wilt, root-knot nematodes, and verticillium wilt. It also enables the plants to withstand harsh climatic conditions and to overcome salinity issues. The grafted part is composed of the scion (the top of the grafted plant) and the rootstock (the bottom part). Grafting success is facilitated by the propagation environment, grafting methods and grafting seasons. Greenhouses and shade net houses are common structures in grafting nurseries.
They are categorized into two; high cost and low-cost greenhouses. The high-cost greenhouse comprises of a polythene sheet set on metallic ashes. This type is easy to build and it can withstand strong winds without getting damaged. Greenhouses offer an ideal environment for grafted plants. Temperatures inside the greenhouse are higher than in the outside environment although they can be maintained at the desired level. The humidity in the greenhouses can be raised by sprinkling water even during the cold season. Since they offer a propagated environment, the success rate of the plants is high. The investment capacity determines the type of greenhouses and shade net houses required. It is effective for both small scale and large scale graft plants’ nurseries.
Shade net houses
A systematic shade house is required for both small and large scale multiplication of graft plants. Mostly, young graft plants need a regulated environment in partial shade. Shade net houses can be easily built since only wooden poles are used to support the shade net. They allow the circulation of air and are not affected by wind. They offer a controlled environment required for the proper growth of the graft plants.
In a controlled environment, the graft plants take fewer days to sprout. These plants have a high number of leaves and grow at a faster rate. In Greenhouses and shade net houses, the grafts seem to heal quickly. The graft exposure to optimum temperature and humidity results in variations in the number of leaves of the graft plants. High humidity helps in the formation of the callus between the scion and stock and also prevents the scion from drying. Compatibility between the scion and the stock promotes cambium formation and easy union formation.
With the latest gadgets and innovations, technology has transformed today’s agriculture. The number of entrepreneurs and investors who are investing their money in agriculture has been rising rapidly. In the future, agriculture will look completely different from what it is today. There have been major advancements in telecommunication, engineering of farm machinery and equipment, and computer software. In Kenya, mobile technology has been used extensively to improve small and large scale farming. It helps in reducing post-harvest and weather-related losses, improving farm operations, comparing different market rates, controlling farm machinery and equipment, monitoring the supplies and in the process making farming more efficient. Some of the major technologies that will take agriculture to another level are sensors, automation and mechanical engineering, and mobile devices.
Since most farm equipment can be connected to mobile devices most farmers are incorporating mobile devices in their farm operations. There are many apps that perform a wide range of functions such as controlling water meters, checking the weather, collecting field-level information and selling farm products.
Combining different technologies, farmers can be able to create smart farming systems. Smart farming utilizes internet-connected tools to leverage and capture data required for decision making.
Sensors play an important role in farming such as traceability, helping farmers to get real-time information and data regarding their equipment, livestock, and crops. Furthermore, they promote accuracy since the data undergoes complex diagnosis and analysis before a report is given. Today, sensors are connecting to sophisticated systems that analyze the collected data automatically. To grow high-performance crops, farmers are employing high tech systems. Sensors are also used for comparing weather conditions and testing the soil. Some of the sensors used in agriculture include:
Livestock biometrics: Collars with GPS and biometrics can be used to collect and relay real-time information about the livestock automatically.
Soil and Air sensors: These are sensors that can help farmers to understand water, soil and air conditions of their farms.
Crop sensors: These sensors are used to collect information related to the crops. They can help farmers understand the field conditions before fertilizer application and the amount of fertilizer required in the field. Drones can be utilized to monitor the crops’ health and know the correct remedy to prescribe in case the crops are not healthy. For instance, they can identify if the crops have been infested by pests or powdery mildew and relay the information to the farmers for analysis. During irrigation, sensors can be mounted on the irrigation systems to measure the amount of moisture in the soil which can help the farmer to know when there is enough moisture in the soil. Since the rate of irrigation is different in different crops, the information relayed by these sensors can vary. To assess the performance of the crops, drones can be fitted with sensors and GPS technology.
Equipment telematics: This technology is used for communication or from far. For instance, tractors can be started and given a few minutes to warm up before they start working.
Automation & Mechanical Engineering
In the next few years, farm equipment and machinery will be automated. Automation incorporates the use of robotics, micro-robots, computer applications and systems to monitor and maintain the crops. Some of the recent advancements include:
Variable-rate swath control: This is an advancement of geo-location technologies that help farmers to save on fertilizers, seeds, and herbicides by pre-computing the field size, overlapping inputs and automating tasks such as fertilizer application.
Agricultural robots: These days, tractors can be used to apply to be installed with devices that can be used to apply pesticides and liquid fertilizers to crops in the field. Agricultural robots can be programmed to perform tasks such as seeding and harvesting automatically.
Today, organic foods are appealing to consumers since they are an ethical choice and healthy. Therefore, organic farming can be a profitable sphere to venture in. Apart from ethics and money. Organic farming practices are friendly to the environment. Organic farming can be considered as a farming method that avoids the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, additives, growth regulators and growth hormones. They rely on animal manures, bio-fertilizers, crop residues, crop rotation, organic wastes, and mechanical cultivation. Biological methods are used for pest and weeds control while still maintaining soil productivity. Organic farming helps in enhancing biological diversity, soil fertility and this way resulting in sustainability in agriculture.
To maintain soil fertility, crops should be supplied with nutrients using insoluble nutrients like the action of micro-organisms. Legumes can be grown to ensure nitrogen soil self-sufficiency since they facilitate to nitrogen fixation.
Pros of Organic Farming
In fruit farming, organic farming has many benefits such as reducing chemical residual levels and minimizing soil erosion. China giving a nod to Kenyan avocados, that was a big opportunity for Kenyan farmers. However, the export license can end up being canceled if high pesticide levels and the use of unregistered pesticides are detected. Apart from discouraging smart farming practices like crop rotation and growing cover crops, pesticides and synthetic chemicals result in soil, air and water contamination. Continuous use of pesticides allows disease resistance to develop in weeds, plants, bacteria, fungi, and plant-eating-insects.
Soil erosion is a serious issue that should be combated since it affects the land, humans and can greatly cut the fruit supply, especially when the trees are destroyed.
When you treat the soil with harmful pesticides, you destroy it to the point that the soil can no longer thrive on its own. Growing healthy fruits starts with healthy soil. Organic farming means that you will produce healthy fruits.
Organic farming facilitates water conservation and preservation. Some fruit trees such as peaches, pears cannot tolerate drought and hence require a lot of irrigation. Apples require a lot of water during vegetative growth and fruit formation. Most fruits are resistant to rotting hence they can withstand wet soils. Most mature fruits are composed of approximately 70% water. This means that plants require a lot of water during fruit formation. On most occasions, 1% of the water that the trees use is retained in the fruits. Continuous use of fertilizers reduces water retention capability results in poor drainage of the soil. This leads to a lot of irrigation, affected water conservation negatively. When farmers employ organic practices such as mulching, they manage to minimize irrigation and hence conserve water.
Consumers prefer organically grown fruits not only in Kenya but also in other countries since they are tastier. The quality of the fruits is also different. Organically grown fruits are free from preservatives, harmful chemicals, and artificial flavors. Furthermore, the cost of organic fruit farming is relatively lower compared to non-organically grown ones.
Challenges facing Organic Farming
The organic farming industry faces several challenges. For instance, farmers are not aware of the high demand for organic fruits and their market. Also, there is a lack of enforcement o organic farming, lack of certification by agricultural bodies and lack of proper inspection of fruit quality. The inappropriate use of chemical and high maximum residual levels (MRLs) in the horticultural sector, for example, resulted in the European Union rejecting Kenya’s horticulture produce. This shows the importance of setting standards and certification of organic farming.
The demand for organically produced fruits has been rising not only locally but also in the export market. Some farmers are already amassing high incomes from organic fruits. Unfortunately, the number of organic farmers is still low and hence the demand is yet to be met. In Kenya, there are some supermarkets in Nairobi and other parts of the country which are stocking their shelves with organic foods. Apart from low chemical levels, organic fruits have health benefits to those suffering from serious diseases such as high blood pressure, cancer, and diabetes.
If other farmers are amassing wealth from organic farming, why not you? For more information, you can consult Oxfarm.co.ke to get into the organic farming.
Kenya is the rising star. It has taken 65 years to prove that a man can run a marathon in less than 2 hours. What Eliud kipchoge’s success has proved is that the perpetual and best things in life take time. Farmers should all be willing and patient to go through the process because God makes everything beautiful in the fullness of time.
The biggest advantage with Kenya is that its rich soils combined with climate is suitable for hass avocado growing as the crop requires areas with at least 1,000mm of rainfall.
Currently, Kenyan hass avocados are mainly intended for Europe and have recently gained access to the Asian market, where the sector is growing. The acreage and production are growing and new export markets, especially in Asia, are being opened.
The most important development on the export market of Kenyan hass avocados is the future trade agreement with China. As soon as this agreement is fully active, 40% of the avocados are expected to go to the Chinese market.
In 2017, Kenya accounted for 38.9% of Africa’s total avocado exports and for 1.3% of the fruit’s global trade. Kenya is the 7th biggest producer of hass avocados in the world with an average annual production of 191,000 tonnes per year as of 2017, compared to Mexico, the first in the world with, 1.5 million tonnes per year, according to Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Kenya can be the leading producer and export if it can address the challenge of increasing irrigation to ensure better yield and uniformity of avocado fruits, increase avocado acreage under production, and improve the quality of avocado fruits by planting the right variety.
Finally, farmers lets embrace hass avocados planting and with all the records set lets know that we are not limited to attaining the number one slot in the world as our great warrior Eliud Kipchoge did.
Hass Avocado Is The Canopy Of Life: A Testimony Of TEHU Self Help Group
They say when people come together they can conquer the world and there is power in numbers. Mr. Paul Muthami Tumuti a writer and a farmer who is the chairman of TEHU self-help group had a vision for the group and the entire Kenya. According to Mr. Muthami “Avocado is the canopy of life”, this is what we are going to show you in this article.
Mr. Muthami who is an alumni of Kimathi Institute which has now changed to Dedan Kimathi University of Technology studied building but decided to do farming as a part timer.
Every day is a learning day and life is an experience. Few farmers had Hass avocado trees in TETU and market was a challenge. Brokers and Cartels always come in sheep skin but inside they are leopards. They will tell farmers how the market has shifted and they should sell their produce to them since they are connected and have ready market.
In 2016, with just 22 members, TEHU (Tetu and Huhoini) Fruits and Vegetables self-help group was formed and registered with assistance of agricultural department. The main purpose of forming the group was most farmers had few mature trees and the only way of having a bargaining power was to be in a group. TEHU was registered from members of several sub-locations that are karaihu, Kigogoini, Gatumbiro, Kiriti, e.t.c.
In 2016, the group sold 52,000 pieces of hass avocado from various farmers to one of the biggest exporters in Kenya. Their anticipation was 10 Ksh per fruit but they only managed to sell at 5.19 Ksh per fruit. They were very demoralized and almost gave up. However, they knew there was hope because previously their fruits were being bought for less than Ksh 2-4.
In 2017 more members joined and they had 17 new members making a total of 35 members. According to the chairman, they were frustrated by the strict conditions given by the exporter and they decided to sell at the farm gate. This time they managed to get a supplier. They sold a total of 78,000 hass avocados fruits at 8.50 Ksh. This was more of a break through. The farmers were excited since they were paid promptly and at the farm gate.
In 2018, the group was becoming bigger, from 35 members to 110. This time the group expanded from Tetu and Huhoini to other areas such as Thegenge, Nyeri Municipality, Mweiga, and Giakanja.e.t.c. The dream was coming to a reality and now the target was an exporter. So the group management together with members called a meeting to deliberate on the terms to be given to the buyers of the fruits.
Avocado Training in Meru, OxfarmAg educating farmers group
Terms to the buyer
- They should verify the quality and quantity of the fruits
- They should negotiate and agree on the best price.
- Exporter/interested party have to deposit a good sum of money in TEHU’s bank account as a down payment.
- Supervision both from the exporter and TEHU has to be present during harvesting.
In 2018 the group received more than 10 interested parties who wanted to buy the fruits from members. Each buyer was to come up with best price they can buy the fruits and also best terms. The management tasked by the group was meant to select the best of the parties,
The group members sold the fruits to one of the exporting companies at Ksh 12 per fruits gate price.
In 2019, Things were bigger and better, the members rose from 110 to 300 of which 150 members had mature fruits for sale. This time members came all the way from marwa, and Othaya. After doing the vetting of various interested parties, one exporter who won to buy the fruits bought 450,000 pieces of hass avocado at Ksh 16 and 200,000 Fuertes avocados at Ksh 6- Ksh 8. While the members were selling at Ksh 16, the non-members were selling theirs at Ksh 8. That is 100% difference; do you now believe there is power in numbers?
TEHU has created for the local young people who during harvesting are highly engaged. Its only in 2016 they had professional pickers but there after the group decided to engage the local young people.
Some conditions for Becoming a Member of the group.
TEHU doesn’t discriminate any farmer, whether you are a farmer with a single tree or a farmer like Mr. Kabue from Githakwa with 300 trees. So what do you need to become a member?
- Registration and membership fee of Ksh 1000
- Fruit should be grown organically, (no synthetic fertilizers). Most exporters want organic products. ( Use traps instead of chemicals to control pests)
- Members should undergo trainings
- Members should wait for the fruits to mature fully and wait for TEHU management to give out directives
The group management meets at least once in a month to deliberate on issues affecting the group or emerging news. On the other hand, members meet at least twice a year.
Benefits of being in the group to the farmer
After having an interview with TEHU self help group chairman Mr. Muthami, we visited a member of Tehu, Mr Kabui, a farmer of Hass avocado who hass 300 trees and here is a summary of the advantages associated with joining TEHU.
- Group creates social relations that enable individuals to achieve goals that they may not otherwise be able to achieve by themselves.
- Enable farmers to improve on fruits quality due to trainings.
- Help farmers benefit from economies of scale by lowering their costs of acquiring inputs or hiring services such as pickers and transport.
- It also empowers their members economically and socially by involving them in decision-making processes that create additional rural employment opportunities, or enable them to become more resilient to economic and environmental shocks.
- They have an easy reach to resources as group members can apply for loans on bank they operate on due to the security they have on the fruits.
- They have an easy reach to donors such as DANIDA as it has offered to construct a cold room for the group.
- They attract good hass Avocado prices as they have quantities that can interest exporters thus eliminating the broker and having a direct exporter of their produce.
How Is the Avocado Market?
According to Mr. Muthami, even if we uprooted all the other trees in Kenya and plant avocados, we wouldn’t meet the global demand of avocado. Currently avocado fruit is the most sort after because of its healthy benefits. Mexico produces more than 40% of the total global production of hass avocado. Combined with other Latin American nations they produce more than 80%.
Their avocado fruits hit the market between March and June. This is a great advantage to Kenya and other tropical countries in Africa since our avocados and especially the highlands mature at around June-September. ” If only we farmers can be patient enough and sell in August…” poses Mr. Muthami. By around that time, there are few fruits in Europe and Middle East which means, by the law of demand and supply, assuming the demand is constant, the price will definitely go higher.
“The consumer wants the product but most don’t have the conditions to grow them. Avocado oil is very expensive and it’s very hard to find it in local market. For economic returns and food security the farmers have to be into groups. Most farmers are frustrated by market when they do it individually. The more you narrow the chain of brokers the more you earn. Use good agricultural practices and channel your energy in good use” Added Mr. Muthami.
What Ministry Of Trade Should Know
County governments and national government can play a vital role in ensuring youths and farmers form groups that can help them market their produce be it fruits or veggies. Nyeri alone produces more than 10 million hass avocado but are disorganized and sell to brokers at less than Ksh 8.
Imagine, TEHU due to their bargaining power sold their fruits at Ksh 16, while most individual farmers at Ksh 8. This means more revenue is lost in Nyeri county alone. Agriculture is the backbone of Kenya in terms of GDP. It then means that if the relevant parties can come together and ensure farmers are organized, they can offer employment.
There are many beneficiaries;
- County and national governments
- Employment to the local young people
TEHU testimony should be used as an inspiration to many young people.
Where is the Future of Young People in farming?
Young people can form groups and grow crops together. Quantity is the biggest challenge, but if young people have good will, have trusts among them they can do wonders.
The world we are living in has many challenges, after completing education, most youths end up in towns, tarmacking looking for white color jobs but the money is with masses and coming together. We keep on complaining how there no jobs in Kenya, the time is now, and we must come together and fight together.
Writers’ Point of view
TEHU coming together is a success story that ought to reach the entire world. Its part of a comprehensive and sustainable plan advocating the long term vision of the hass avocado farmers. It will benefit farmers and the entire village’s community since it advocates better farming practices at a minimized cost and will thus increase the avocado production leading to more profits for farmers.
I trust that this article would inspire many more hass avocado farmers and help them in creating both employment revenue for themselves. I also take this opportunity to congratulate all the TEHU members who have been working tirelessly for achieving their objective. You are True Heroes!
As OxfarmAg Ltd company we are involved in training and organization of farmers groups interested on avocado farming.
If you would like to book us email us firstname.lastname@example.org