Posted on

Places that Grape farming thrives

If you are a wine lover, you might have heard salespeople or winemakers proclaiming some bottles to be unique thanks to high elevation vineyards. Why do they emphasize on high elevation when it comes to finished wine? Vineyards are set on high elevations because of greater temperature fluctuations, solar rays, and scarcity of water resources. High elevation grape farming is exposed to environmental limitations and challenges that help shape highly-acclaimed and unique wines. In Kenya, in Meru, Mombasa, Kibwezi, Mandera, and Naivasha, and parts of Nyeri like Othaya. are the best grape farming areas.

How Solar Rays and Temperature Affect Wine at Elevation

The acidity and tannin structure of a wine is developed in the vineyard and it’s mainly determined by the temperature shift that the vineyard sees from day to night and the exposure to the sun. The intensity and density of solar rays increase as you move upward in elevation. This means that the temperature and direct sunlight hitting the vineyard increases.

Hillside vineyards tend to receive more concentrated and direct sunlight which makes the grapefruits develop thicker skin enhancing the color concentrations and resulting in stronger tannins and flavor profiles.  Greater temperature shifts between day and night are experienced in high elevation areas. When the sun sets, temperatures drop although this shift depends on the altitude. The cooler nights throughout the vineyard enable the grapes to conserve their acidity resulting in age-worthy wines. Temperature shifts also help to lengthen the growing season giving grapes more time to develop and mature on the vines. With a sloping terrain, Naivasha is one of the places where grapes can perform well. It has a warm and dry climate where grapes can receive the sun throughout the day.

Climatic conditions for growing grapes

Kenya’s climate that ranges from tropical climate to highland, arid and semi-arid climate makes it ideal for grape farming. Sufficient water, adequate sun, and heat favor viticulture. These factors are important to promote healthy growth of the vines. During fruiting, grapes require warm or hot temperatures and hence the weather must be dry and sunny. Warm temperatures increase the sugar content of the grapes.

This explains why grapes grown under irrigation in arid and semi-arid areas such as Mandera are sweeter than those from humid regions. Apart from the cool climate, Kenya has cool nights, warm days, fertile soils, and moderate rainfall which provide the optimum conditions for grape farming.

The crop thrives in well-drained soils especially in sandy and loamy soils.

Vines can be damaged by frost which happens when temperatures go below 00C. During vegetative growth, the physiological processes of grapevines begin when the temperatures are above 100C. In Kenya, the average temperatures range between 170C – 200C which are ideal for vegetative growth and flowering.

When temperatures rise above 200C, most of the physiological processes are complete and the grape clusters begin to ripen. Naivasha has temperate climates that give the vines long, warm periods which are important during flowering, fruit set, and fruit ripening.

Other factors that influence viticulture are humidity, sunlight, and wind. Grapes do not require high humidity or strong winds and perform best in places where they are put under irrigation. They thrive in places with light winds such as Naivasha and Meru.

When there is little moisture, irrigation should be ensured. However, irrigation should be withheld after heavy rains to minimize excessive vegetative growth and to force the crop to go dormant. The cropping season is from September to March. Between August and September, fruit buds should be forming and hence the plants should be kept healthy and well manured.

Posted on

When should you plant plantain Bananas?

Currently, plantain farming is one of the most lucrative ventures in agriculture. Unfortunately, most farmers lack the necessary knowledge needed to start a plantain plantation and hence miss out on the profitability of agri-business. Plantains have fruits similar to bananas, but unlike bananas, the fruits remain green and don’t turn yellow when they ripen. Plantain fruits are mainly boiled, steamed, or fried although they are also eaten raw. With high demand, they can be a good source of revenue even to local farmers.

Climatic factors

Plantain is sensitive to temperatures and hence cannot thrive in areas that are extremely cold or too hot. The tropical climate is ideal for plantain, especially in areas where temperatures are between 200C to 300C. The optimum temperature for plantain farming is 270C . These bananas cannot survive in temperatures below 140C. At low temperatures, the leaves and the fruit turns yellow and eventually the plant dies. The bright sun, warm temperatures, and adequate rainfall create an optimum environment for plantain farming.

They require adequate rainfall although they can be put under irrigation. If they have enough water, they can handle extreme temperatures and cool weather. However, in extreme temperatures, they do not thrive.

A pH of between 5.5 and 7.0 is the best for plantain farming.

In Kenya, plantain farming can thrive in most parts of the country especially places such as Tharaka Nithi, Meru, Nyeri, Kisii, Muranga, Embu, Nyamira, and Kirinyaga.

Time to Plant Plantain Bananas

Plantain suckers can be planted after land preparation. The land should be prepared before the rainy season and the suckers planted during the rainy season. During the first 3 to 4 months after planting, the plants should be well watered to ensure vigorous vegetative growth. This means that they should not be planted in the last month of the rainy season. This means that they can either be planted between March and April or between October and November.

However, fetch good returns, farmers can also plant during the dry season and put the plants under irrigation. Most farmers plant immediately when the rains start and flood the market when the plantains mature which causes the prices to be very low. Planting during the dry season or in the middle of the rainy season puts farmers in a better proposition since they will harvest they plantain off-season and hence get high prices.

Weeding and fertilizer application

Weeds can compete for nutrients with plantain plants slowing down their growth. Constant weeding is hence important. Chemical weed control is, however, not recommended.

The application of fertilizers will be based on soil fertility. To know the soil fertility, a soil test is recommended before planting. If the application of fertilizers is necessary, it should be applied in the right proportions. Manure should be added regularly to improve soil fertility. Mulching should also be applied since it not also minimizes water loss through evaporation but also improves the soil fertility when the mulch decomposes.

Maturity and Harvesting

Plantain fruits take between 8 to 10 months to mature and be ready for harvest. Harvesting is done when the plants begin to ripen. A bunch ripens within one week. The plant produces more fruits throughout the entire season. The fruits should be harvested carefully so as not to hurt the fruits.

Marketing

The profitability depends on how they are maintained. The demand for plantain has been increasing over the years and there is always a ready market for the fruits. In Kenya, the consumption of plantain fruits is high. Farmers can either sell the fruits in the local market, to companies that process plantain into flour or export to the international market. In East Africa, South Africa, and Asia, the market for plantain is large and is increasing over the years.

Posted on

More and more farmers enter into macadamia farming

Macadamia farming has proven to be a profitable venture, and many farmers in the country have started to grow macadamia trees. The high profits and increasing demand for macadamia nuts have made nut farming an ideal venture even for low-income farmers. Increased small scale production has made Kenyan macadamia nuts to gain recognition globally. Over the past few years, more farmers have ventured into macadamia farming because of several factors such as;

Low returns in other sectors

Previously, cash crops such as tea and coffee were the leading exports in the country. However, due to the high number of middlemen and the changing economy, the once-lucrative venture shrank and farmers ended up making losses. When coffee farming was profitable, farmers planted macadamia trees to provide shade to their coffee plants. Today, most farmers have shifted to more profitable crops with most of them venturing into macadamia farming. In some regions, farmers have started clearing their coffee bushes to pave way for macadamia. For instance, the prices of macadamia nuts in 2018 rose to KES 180 per kilo in 2018 and part of 2019. Compared to crops such as maize that were going for even KES 20 per kilo and coffee which was going for about KES 55 per kilo, the prices of nuts can be considered incomparable. Close to September, the prices rose to KES 200 per kilo. The attractive prices were fuelled by the high demand in the international market.

Lower yields in other sectors

Compared to other crops such as coffee, macadamia produces more yields. For instance, one acre can accommodate up to 70 macadamia trees. One tree can produce up to 100kgs of nuts. With a price of KES 160, a farmer with 70 trees can make about 1,120,000 per year. Other crops such as tea, coffee, and maize can barely reach this figure, considering their high cost of production. However, farmers should adhere to the right farming methods to achieve optimum benefits.

Versatility and Ready Market For Macadamia Farming

Previously, the macadamia nut industry was dominated by middlemen who took a large number of farmers’ profits. However, with about 27 licensed processors that buy nuts directly from farmers, farmers are well cushioned against losses and exploitation. Kenyan nuts are popular in the local and international markets due to their crunchy nature. This has ushered fierce competition among raw nut exporters, local, and foreign roasters. The demand for macadamia nuts is high in Europe and Asia and hence there is always a ready market for Kenyan nuts. However, for farmers to get higher returns, Kenya should encourage investments in value addition. The global market has expanded due to the application of nuts in cosmetic and pharmaceutical products, food, and beverages. In the food & beverage sector, nuts can be used in confectionery, dairy and frozen desserts, bakery, and culinary segments. In cosmetic and personal care products, they can be used to add value to lotions, shampoos, and moisturizers.

Short maturity and last longer

Macadamia trees are a lifetime investment that matures within a short time. Grafted seedlings mature within 2 years and have a high productivity rate. These trees produce high yields for a couple of decades unlike other crops such as maize which last only a few months.

Reuse and waste reduction

Macadamia husks can act as fuel in rural and urban areasreducing the usage of charcoal and firewood.

Kenyan farmers have experienced poor prices and losses of their produce and hence most of them shifting to other streams of income. With the development of macadamia farming, farmers can smile again. Macadamia trees require little maintenance unlike other crops such as coffee but fetch high profits. Farmers should consider planting grafted seedlings that mature fast. However, farmers should ensure that they get grafted seedlings from certified nurseries. As the macadamia industry grows, more farmers should venture into the lucrative business to help meet the increasing demand and enjoy high prices.

Posted on

Why farmers should invest in grapes

In case you have purchased grapes from a fruit vendor recently, you must have bought a packet between KES 250 and KES 300. Both in supermarkets and fruit stores, that’s the average price range. Grape farming is a lucrative venture that is yet to be tapped. With an agricultural land located in a place with an ideal climate, topography, and soils that favors grape farming, farmers can also make it into English wine.

Why farmers should invest in grapes

There various reasons why farmers should invest in grape farming. This includes;

It’s a growing industry

English wine production has been increasing steadily over the years. With accreditation from wine experts, journalists, and international wine competitions, a spotlight is shining on Kenyan grapes. In the UK, the wine industry is one of the fastest-growing industries in the agricultural sector that is aiming to reach an output of 10 million bottles by this year and 40 million bottles in the next two decades. This means that more than 2 million vines should be planted to help meet this goal. Why not become part of the boom?

Higher prices than other sectors

Previously, the majority of farmers engaged in subsistence farming growing crops such as maize and beans, and cash crop farming such as coffee and tea. Unfortunately, the prices of these products have fallen to the extent that farmers can barely make any profits. For instance, a kilo of coffee has been retailing at KES 55 and KES 20 for maize. Farmers have therefore been looking for other streams of income to keep farms sustainable and barely generating significant revenue from their crops. Grape farming is a lucrative venture that can give farmers high returns especially when proper farming methods have been put in place. Compared to other crops, the prices of grapes are quite high considering that a kilo of grapes can go for even up to KES 300.

Rising Demand

The demand for grapes has been increasing rapidly over the years due to its use in wines and food processing industries. Grapes can either consumed fresh or processed into different forms like jellies, jam, raisins, juices, and wine. Wine is the most expensive grape product.

The increase in demand for wine and the increase in the number of wine processors have fuelled the rise in demand for grapes. Worldwide, the wine market is expected to reach USD 415 billion by 2024. The largest importers of grapes in the world are Europe especially the United Kingdom and the United States. The demand in the international market is high and is yet to be met.

Pest and Diseases affecting grape farming

Pests

Grapes are attacked by sucking insects such as aphids, spider mites, black vine weevils, grape mealybugs, and Japanese beetle. These pests can be controlled by registered pesticides although chemical control is rarely needed. Neem oil and insecticidal soaps can also be used to control insects.

Diseases

Fungal

Most diseases affecting grapes are fungal. They include:

  1. Anthracnose (Bird’s eye rot) – can be controlled by planting less susceptible cultivars.
  2. Armillaria root rot – can be controlled through fumigation, especially in soils suspected to have carried the disease.
  3. Botrytis – can be controlled by planting less susceptible cultivars, avoiding over-fertilizing, and reduce excessive vegetative growth. In severe cases, chemical control can be employed.
  4. Dieback – Chemical control can be used to control the disease.
  5. Powdery mildew – Good air circulation should be ensured to prevent the spreading of the disease. Copper-based fungicides can also be used.
  6. Leaf spot – Appropriate fungicides can be used. Pune the infected parts and plant pathogen-free plants.
  7. Esca – Remove the infected parts plants immediately they are detected.

Bacterial

These diseases are also common and can be devastating since they spread from vine to vine especially where vines are planted in an orchard situation. They include:

  1. Black rot – Can be controlled using fungicides.
  2. Crown gall – Can be prevented by planting disease-free stock and avoid injuring the plants. It can also be controlled by solarisation and soil fumigation. 

Market for Grapes

The demand for locally grown grapes is yet to be met both for wine and table purposes. About 99% of table grapes are mainly imported from Egypt and South Africa. These countries have many hectares under grapevines because of their established wine production. Kenya has an ideal environment for growing and producing grapes locally. Farmers should consider venturing this industry as the demand for grapes in the local and international markets is increasing. In Kenya, there are only two commercial wineries that produce wine with one of them importing fresh grapes since we are unable to produce enough grapes to meet their demand. The demand is also high in jam and juice makers.It is evident therefore that the demand is very high while the supply of grapes is almost insignificant and it’s the high time farmers start filling this gap. Currently, there is little competition among farmers since there is only a small number growing the crop.

Posted on

Three Main Types of Avocados in Kenya: Why you should plant hass avocados

What is the difference between Hass, Fuerte, and Kienyeji avocados?

Kenya provides an ideal environment for avocados especially due to the subtropical climates. African avocados have gained recognition globally, with the majority of exported avocado varieties being from South Africa and Kenya. Hass and Fuerte are the most exported varieties from Kenya. There are slight differences between Hass, Fuerte, and Kienyeji avocados. For instance,

Hass avocados 

The skin of hass avocado becomes dark when ripe. The ripeness can be determined by a gentle squeeze. They are served when the inside is white-green. This variety has an intense flavor and creamy flesh making it suitable for making guacamole. Hass avocado takes lesser time to mature and produce more yields.

Fuerte avocados

 This variety has a characteristic elongated form with glossy and thin skin. They have a bright green, loose, textured skin that is easy to peel. They do not soften and hence hard to determine when they are ripe. They have a low-fat content and calorie count compared to hass avocados. They are mainly used to make salads since they can be easily sliced and diced.

Kienyeji Avocados

Compared to hass avocado, local avocados are larger in size and have a low-fat content. For instance, 3 slices of kienyeji avocado contain about 3 grams of fat while has avocado contains 4.6 grams. They take a couple of years to mature and some can even take a decade.

Why hass avocado is preferred

The demand of hass avocados in the local and international markets has been increasing over the years. There are various reasons why hass avocado is preferred. These include:

Greater yield

The hass plant is far much preferred for its long harvest season and greater yield.

The hass plant produces greater yield and a long harvest season and hence more revenue to the farmers.

Long shelf life

The fruits have a tough skin which helps in minimizing damaging of fruits during transportation. Compared to other varieties, they have a longer shelf life and can last up to 3 weeks from the time of harvest. Thus makes shipment and handling convenient.

Health benefits

Unlike other varieties, they have more health benefits. For instance, they contain oleic acid which helps in fighting inflammation in the body and protects against diabetes and heart diseases.

Also, they contain antioxidants and important minerals such as carotenoids, copper, and vitamin K.

Fertilizing avocado plants

Fertilizer treatments in avocado farms are determined by soil and leaf analysis results. In less fertile soils, farmers may need to supplement their plants with nutrients that are not in the soil. Adding fertilizers immediately after planting is not recommended since it can burn the roots of the young tree. Some of the nutrients that are required by avocado plants include Nitrogen, Calcium, Boron, and Zinc. The soil pH also plays an important role and should also be taken into consideration.

Nitrogen speeds up vegetative growth and encourages canopy health. Fertilizers containing boron and calcium should be added to enhance flowering, fruit set, and to improve the fruit quality. The soil pH can be regulated by using lime.

Irrigation

Avocado plants require adequate water supply throughout the year. Too much water and little water can have adverse effects on the plants.

When the plants don’t get enough water;

  1. Plants experience stress which results in early flowering and poor fruit set.
  2. Increased flower and fruit abortion
  3. Poor quality fruits and reduced fruit size

Too much water results to;

  1. Nutrient imbalances
  2. Promotes root rot
  3. Reduced tree vigor.
Posted on

Pear farming: A lucrative venture that you should invest in

Provided that proper farming methods are applied, commercial pear farming can be a lucrative business. Various cultivars can be grown in different regions depending on their adaptability. They perform well in a wide range of soils and are tolerant to drought and wet soils. However, they cannot tolerate flooding since it damages their root system.

Climatic Conditions

Most pear varieties thrive in cool regions when temperatures do not exceed 320C. Pears require abundant exposure to sunlight for maximum fruit production. Sufficient sunlight also enhances the color of the fruits. Pears require adequate rainfall, although they can be put under irrigation especially in dry areas. In warm and dry regions, commercial pear farming requires regular fertilization, irrigation, and continuous optimization of pollination. A cold season (chilling) is necessary to break dormancy and to enhance fruit bud development. Lack of chilling slows down leaf formation and causes poor fruit set. However, different varieties require different chilling requirements. In the tropics, especially in Kenya, farmers should consider growing varieties with a low chilling effect. Due to the cold season that dominates the area, Limuru is ideal for pear farming. 

Soil requirements

Pears are not selective when it comes to soil requirements. They can be grown in different soils ranging from loamy, clay loamy or sandy soils. The plants thrive in soils that are either light sandy or loamy. However, they are sensitive to pH and require a soil pH of below 8.5. Alkaline soils above this are not suitable for pear farming. High soil pH of above 8.5 seems to cause zinc deficiencies and iron chlorosis in plants.

Pear plants require Potassium and Nitrogen for normal leaf growth, flowering and fruit set, and Phosphorus for the development of a strong root system, especially when the plants are still young. They also require Magnesium, Manganese, Boron, Zinc, and Calcium for bud development, flowering, and fruition. Nutrient deficiency negatively affects fruit quality, number, and general tree health. If any of the nutrients is not available in the soil, it can be supplemented by applying fertilizers.

Pests and diseases that affect pear farming

Just like other fruits, pears are also attacked by pests such as aphids, beetles, leafhoppers, spider mites, and moths. When these pests attack the tree or the fruits, they feed on the plant causing damage to the leaves and fruits. They cause curling and yellowing of leaves, holes or spots to the fruits, and flower and fruit drop in severe cases.

They are also susceptible to a number of fungal and bacterial diseases. For instance, they are prone to powdery mildew, a fungal disease that attacks the leaves, flowers, and fruits, causing leaf and fruit discoloration and distortion. If not controlled, the infected tree becomes weak and unproductive. They are also prone to fire blight, a bacterial disease that attacks the shoots and branches, especially of young plants, and makes them appear like they are burned.

Other diseases that are collar rot, crown rot, and root rot.

Market prices for Kenya pears

Prices for Kenyan pears fluctuate depending on the market. For instance, one kilo of pears was going for KES 26 in 2018 and KES 30 in 2019. Fresh pears exported to Rwanda, Belarus, Bahrain, and Somalia have the highest prices per kilo. In the local market, one pear goes for Ksh 10 but can rise up to Ksh 15 depending on the season. When proper farming techniques are employed, a tree can produce 180kgs in a season. This means a farmer with 200 trees will harvest 36000kgs of pear fruit in one season. When a kilogram is going for KES 30, a farmer can make 1,080,000 in one season.  Pear fruits require little maintenance and hence most of the revenue generated is profit. Isn’t that a lucrative venture?

You can also look for what the government is doing for avocado farmers.

Posted on

How The Government Supporting Hass avocado Farming

Hass avocado is a variety that has a high demand in the local and international markets. Due to its high demand, hass avocado farmers are earning more than two times compared to those growing other varieties such as Keitt and Fuerte. Annually, Kenya produces about 115, 000 tons of avocados with small scale farmers producing about 70%. Currently, Kenya exports about 75% of the produce while 25% is consumed locally. Avocado farming is mainly done in Rift Valley Counties, Upper Eastern Region, Central Region, Western and Some parts of Nyanza region. With the high demand and good prices in the international market, the government has been making efforts to support hass avocado farming. This includes;

ISSUING HASS AVOCADO SEEDLINGS

Various counties have issued seedlings to farmers as a way of encouraging them to venture into the lucrative business. County governments such as Baringo, Kiambu, Meru, Embu,  Nyeri, and Muranga have provided farmers with grafted seedlings, offered them technical support and helped them to acquire subsidized agro chemicals. This way, farmers will be able to get the value of their money and manage to become economically stable. For instance, as a way of maximizing production, Murang’a County is targeting to provide about 1 million seedlings to farmers. Also, the county has encouraged farmers to form groups to boost their marketing power in the international market. 

Nyeri County is also supporting farmers by issuing seedlings to farmers. For instance, in 2018, the county government provided 81,000 Kephis certified seedlings and 52,600 seedlings in 2019. Also, the county government organized a farmers’ workshop to equip them with skills and knowledge on how they can make hass avocado a profitable venture.

POLICIES

In 2007, Kenya lost the market for avocados when South Africa said that most fruit production areas were infested with fruit flies. After intervention by Karlo and KEPHIS, the export market for avocados was reopened bringing the standoff that had lasted more than 10 years to an end. To ensure that the country does not lose the key global markets, KEPHIS has introduced new regulations that will control almost all steps of production and export. The fresh regulations will help ensure that the avocado produce is of high standards.

The international market especially the European one is strict when it comes to MRLs and hence pesticideuse has to be applied at the recommended rates only. To maintain the South African market, fruit fly monitoring shall begin three months before harvesting and continue throughout the harvesting period. Also, KEPHIS shall conduct thorough pest monitoring, especially on fruits being exported to South Africa.

Production sites, pack houses, and storage facilities should be approved by KEPHIS, especially for fruits destined to be exported to China, Europe, and South Africa. Through KEPHIS, the national government has been educating and monitoring farmers and exporters to help them understand the global market standards and how they can adhere to the set regulations.

MARKETING

The government has also supported hass avocado farming by opened new markets for Kenyan avocado. With support from the national and county governments and readily available market, many farmers have ventured into hass avocado farming. The profitability of hass avocados has even attracted counties such as Uasin Gishu who have started educating farmers on the need to venture into high-value crops such as macadamia and avocado. Kenya mainly exports avocado to China, South Africa, and Europe, especially to Netherlands, Spain, France, UK, Belgium, and Russia. There is also a substantial market for avocados in Qatar, Bahrain, UAE, Lebanon, Kuwait, and Egypt and upcoming markets such as Hong Kong and Singapore. 

The government has also negotiated with companies such as Kakuzi to buy directly to farmers hence eliminating middlemen who exploit the farmers.

Recently, Kenya signed a deal with China, opening a market for Kenyan avocados in China. With a large population, China might be consuming more than 40% of Kenyan hass avocados. After negotiations with the national government, China agreed to reduce the levy on Kenyan avocados from 30% to 7% to help people export without straining.

Posted on

6 REASONS WHY FARMERS ARE SHIFTING FROM COFFEE TO HASS AVOCADO FARMING

Since it’s becoming difficult to gain profit from growing coffee, farmers in Kenya are switching to new ways of earning money. Over the past few years, coffee prices in the global market have been falling at an alarming rate. For this reason, farmers in various parts of the country have shifted to hass avocado farming which is more lucrative compared to coffee. Apart from the rising demand, competitive prices, and favorable climatic conditions, avocados are easy to plant and harvest.  The costs of production for farming avocados are relatively low. Due to the high demand, farmers save transportation costs since buyers prefer to purchase the produce on the farm before someone else does. Furthermore, it is easier to boost production since farmers can keep bees to promote pollination.

One variety that has become popular among farmers is hass avocado. This is because of its rising demand in the local and international markets, more yield, healthy benefits, and fast maturity. Currently, hass avocado is the second profitable crop after coffee but if the trend continues, it will overtake coffee in a couple of years.

Reasons Why Farmers Are Shifting From Coffee To Hass Avocado Farming

Favorable climate

The effects of climate change such as unpredictable weather patterns and cold and dry spells have affected coffee farming and increased the cost of production. Unfortunately, the income from coffee has been relatively low making the crop unattractive. Kenya’s climatic condition favors avocado farming especially high altitude areas such as Central Kenya. However, the crop can thrive nearly in all parts of the country. The temperate climate in the country is well suited for hass avocado cultivation. Since they perform well in dry and wet regions, farmers are finding this crop a better alternative to coffee.

Increased Demand

The demand of hass avocados in the local and international market has mainly been fueled by its nutritional health benefits. The demand is increasing in the developed countries where they care more about health, considering that most Kenyan avocados are produced organically and chemical use is limited. Hass avocado is common in most dishes locally and internationally. For instance, they are the main ingredient in Guacamole, which is popular in Europe, Asia, and America. In Asia, the consumption of Kenyan hass avocados has increased in China which has offered a good and lucrative market for the fruits. China’s population is high and hence it will take a couple of years to meet the rising demand. Some of the countries that are interested in Kenya avocados include Belgium, Russia, Netherlands, Germany, Spain, France, Singapore, China, UK, Egypt, Libya, Hong Kong, and Iran.

Hass Avocado
Farmers Harvesting Hass Avocado in Tetu Nyeri

Higher prices

Over the years, coffee prices have shown a downward trend, falling at an alarming rate. Coffee farmers are getting little income from the crop. Due to the low prices, farmers have reduced the acreage under coffee and shifted to better-paying crops. For instance, one kilo of coffee is retailing for KES 55 in the Kenyan market and only KES 115 in the international market. In the international market, one carton with 10 avocado fruits even goes for KES240. This shows that the yield of 7 avocado trees can even generate more income that 500 coffee trees.

More yield

The average yield of hass avocado is higher compared to coffee. For instance, when well-spaced, one acre can occupy about 110 trees. When using the high-density method, one acre can hold up to 400 trees. When proper farming methods are employed, each mature tree can produce about 100 to 600 fruits. This shows that the yield of about 30 trees is even higher than that of one acre of coffee. For this reason, farmers are shifting to this crop since it has more yield and higher prices in the local and international markets. Furthermore, the crop can grow alongside banana and other crops, especially in terraced orchards hence more income to the farmer.

Less Labor

Hass avocado trees require little maintenance but produce more yields per tree and hence a good earner crop, unlike coffee. Unlike hass avocado, coffee needs constant pruning to keep the bushes in good health and under control which increases labor and costs of production. Hass avocados can only be pruned once in a while to promote light penetration, reduces instances of fungal diseases, and encourage regular shoot and branch renewal. Oxfarm does planting for customers at a package of 40, 500 per acre.

Prompt payment

Unlike coffee where farmers have to supply coffee berries and wait for months before they get paid, payments are prompt for hass avocados. The market is liberalized and the prices competitive, unlike coffee where farmers have to sell their coffee through cooperatives. Buyers compete for avocado fruits on the farm make payments immediately they get the produce.

Posted on

Why You Should Buy Hass Avocado Seedlings from Certified Nurseries

Hass Avocado Seedlings in our Nurseries

Why hass avocado?

Hass avocado is preferred because of its greater yield and long harvest season. They have a tough skin and hence are not easily damaged during shipping and transportation.

Avocado farming is not new in Kenya. Most rural homes have an avocado tree in their farm and harvest twice a year. Globally, Kenya is the 6th producer of avocado. However, not most families do commercial avocado farming especially hass avocados. Most avocado trees in rural homes have little yields. Currently, the country produces about 115,000 tonnes of avocado per year. As more farmers venture into avocado farming, this set is expected to increase. Hass avocado is the most popular variety that has shown an upward trend as its demand in the export market increases and more people become aware of its health benefits.

Success in farming starts with high-quality hass avocado seedlings. With proper farming methods, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest and the amazing flavor of fruits. The yields of hass avocado trees are higher compared to other trees. A mature tree can produce more than a million flowers and blooms twice per year. It has a fast maturity and has a lifespan of several decades.

However, you need to be careful when buying seedlings. Purchasing seedlings from roadside sellers can ruin your entire avocado farming venture since they take longer to mature and only produce low yields. There are various reasons why you should buy hass avocado seedlings from certified nurseries. These include;

5 Reasons Why You Should Buy Hass Avocado Seedlings From Certified Nurseries

Quality assurance

Seedlings in certified nurseries are obtained through grafting, whereby two parts of a plant are joined together to form a stronger plant. These seedlings are of high quality and perform better than those from uncertified nurseries. Since quality management systems monitor the hass avocado seedlings in these nurseries, the purity of seedlings is ensured. High quality seedlings mean that if proper farming methods are employed, the trees will produce a large number of fruits that are of high quality.

best hass avocado seedlings for better production

Short maturity

Some seedlings from non-certified nurseries take ages to mature. In certified nurseries, you can beassured that the trees will reach maturity faster hence early flowering and fruit formation. It is therefore ideal for commercial purposes.

Risk management

Using certified seedlings gives the farmer a better chance at landing a good crop insurance deal.

Access to new opportunities

Certified hass seedlings enable farmers to access new opportunities since the proof the avocado variety can be provided. Also, farmers can easily access identity-preserved markets.

New genetics

Grafted seedlings in certified nurseries are tolerant to adverse climatic conditions and resistant to pests. Hass avocado seedlings from these nurseries are resistance to certain viruses, soil nematodes, and viruses. They are tolerant of harsh conditions such as drought and salinity.

Where to Buy

Hass avocado seedlings can be purchased from a certified nursery where farmers can be trained and get equipped with information on how they can take care of their seedlings to get the best performance. Farmers can also get information on phytosanitary conditions that are required for them to access the hass avocado export market. For farmers who want to venture into this lucrative business, they should consider purchasing seedlings from Oxfarm Ag Ltd who offer high quality, grafted seedlings that mature within a short period.

Posted on

Basic methods of improving your Hass avocado productivity

Hass Avocado Farming

Fruit farming is an important venture but becomes more interesting and profitable when it is done as an agribusiness. There are various ways in which you can improve your hass avocado productivity. These include;

Planting in Suitable Climate

When growing hass avocado for commercial purposes, climate plays an important role in determining if your plants thrive. They should be planted in a suitable climate that favors avocado farming for optimum production. Hass avocado thrives in average temperatures ranging from 140C to 270C. The plant requires high humidity, especially during the flowering and fruit setting stage.

Constant Irrigation of Hass Avocado

Soil moisture is an important factor that should be taken into consideration in hass avocado farming. During vegetative growth, avocado orchards grow vigorously and require constant irrigation. During the dry season, reduced irrigation slows down the growth rate. In poorly drained soils, the plants should be irrigated at a controlled rate to enable them to take up water efficiently and to minimize waterlogging. Avocado plants are sensitive to frost and hence water stress should be minimized during the flowering and fruiting stage.

Fertilization

Hass avocado plants require nutrients throughout their growth. Although they can grow in all types of soils, they perform better in fertile and well-drained soils. Organically, this can be done by applying manure regularly. Plants respond well to heavy manure application, especially when it contains high nitrogen content. Fertilizers should be applied based on soil and leaf analysis. A complete soil analysis should be conducted a few months before planting to check the nutrient status. Also, an irrigation water analysis and leaf analysis should be conducted. The soil nutrients status, plant size, water quality, plant density, soil nutrients status, and yield expectation determines the type of fertilizer required by the hass avocado plants. However, fertilizers should not be applied to early on young transplanted trees. Fertilizers should be applied when the plants are properly established and growing vigorously. To ensure optimum results, fertigation should be ensured for irrigated hass avocado trees to enable even distribution of fertilizers.

Important Nutrients Required by Hass Avocado

Nitrogen, Potash, and Phosphorus should be applied regularly to the plants especially during vegetative growth. Avocado trees also require Magnesium, Zinc, and Sulphur. For instance, Urea should be applied at an interval of 3-4 months. Nitrogen deficiency causes early leaf shedding, pale, small leaves, slow growth, and yellowing of veins in severe cases. Too much nitrogen, however, results in excessive vegetative growth and reduced production. Regular leaf analysis should be conducted to determine when nitrogen application is required. To achieve healthy production and an excellent growth rate, inorganic fertilizers should be applied along with manure.

Pests and Diseases control

The most efficient and economical method of pest and disease control is prevention. These preventive measures include weed control, proper selection of planting material, maintaining optimum plant density and proper fertilizer application. The presence of pests in avocado plants reduces productivity significantly. 

Pests in avocado production are not common in Kenya. Pest control rarely requires chemical control. To improve avocado productivity, pests and diseases should, however, be controlled. Some major pests that attack avocado include:

  1. Thrips
  2. Scale insects
  3. False codling moth

Fungal diseases also affect hass avocados and need to be controlled early enough. Major diseases are:

  1. Anthracnose. It attacks fruits especially the mature ones forming dark brown spots. It can be controlled by using fungicides such as Mancozeb, Triforine, Metiram, and Benomyl.
  2. Root Rot. This disease is common in flood-prone areas and places with poorly drained soils and attacks the roots. Some preventive measures include planting grafted hass avocado seedlings. Chemically, it can be controlled using chemicals such as Aliette and Ridomil.
  3. Cespora Fruit Spot. The disease attacks fruits and leaves leaving yellow spots on fruits later on turn brownish. It can be controlled with copper-based fungicides such as Mancozeb, Benomyl, and Trifoline.
  4. Scab. It mainly attacks twigs, leaves, and fruits. It can be controlled by spraying fungicides such as Mancozeb and Triforine.

Other Factors Influencing Productivity

Mulching

Mulching minimizes soil erosion especially in sloping orchards and minimizes water loss through evaporation. This will help to minimize moisture stress.

Tree Spacing

Spacing is a key factor in maintaining and maximizing productivity. Good spacing helps in ensuring aeration in the orchard. High-density plantation results in higher production although it leads to problems in canopy cultivation in later years.

Pollination

Avocado trees are not self-pollination plants in nature and hence require artificial pollination for fruit production. Cross-pollination with another cultivar is important for the best fruit setting. Practicing bee farming near avocado farms can improve pollination in hass avocados.