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How demand and supply of crops affect profitability

The 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.

When done as an agribusiness, 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 crop 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?

 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 Fruit Supply Chain Management

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 performance – An online platform can help 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.
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MKULIMA HALISI PACKAGE

OFFER! OFFER! OFFER!

MKULIMA HALISI PACKAGE

5 FREE HASS AVOCADO SEEDLINGS FROM 15TH JULY TO 18TH JULY

Get Various varieties of fruit tree seedlings at a discounted price,

All these seedling for Ksh 4650 Plus FREE DELIVERY to your nearest town,

Make your mini orchard and enjoy fresh fruit direct from your farm, some will mature as soon in three months’ time.

Here is the Package
–> 5 FREE HASS AVOCADO SEEDLINGS
–> 5 – Tree tomato seedlings
–> 5 – Purple Passion seedlings
–> 5 – Yellow Passion seedlings
–> 2 – Grafted Pixie Oranges seedlings
–> 2 – Grafted mangoes seedlings
–> 2 – Apples seedlings
–> 2 – Lime seedlings
–> 1 – Macadamia seedling
–> 1 – Pomegranate seedling
–> 2 – Tissue culture banana seedlings
–> 5 – Strawberry seedlings

At Only Ksh 4650 you get all these seedlings.

You can buy this Package as a present to your friend or family, or to your parents at home or for your own orchard establishment, it also serves as a good beautification in your home compound.

For easy processing of your order communicate to us through regional departments,

WhatsApp/Call your representative.
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Eldoret Region – Dancan 0710588060
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Visit any of our offices in Nairobi, Nyeri, Nakuru, Or Eldoret
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Acc – Location then your name

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Things You Should Know When You Venture into Ginger Farming

Ginger Farming

Ginger farming, especially in Kenya has attracted attention not only from Africa but also from Europe and Asia. Previously, ginger was a low-profile crop. The high demand from Europe, mainland Asia, and African countries such as Tunisia, Egypt, and Algeria who have a taste for spices has boosted the cultivation of ginger. What most people don’t know is that this is a crop with more returns potential.

Uses of Ginger

Ginger rhizomes can be used either grounded or chopped into crisps and be used for many purposes. For instance, they can be used to add flavour to tea and as a spice in foods. Medically, it can be used to minimize acid reflux in the body and to help in fighting menstrual torments, colds, and influenza.

Things you Should Know When you Venture into Ginger Farming

Before you venture into ginger farming, there are a couple of things that you should know. These include;

Pick the best cultivar

Once you decide to do commercial ginger farming, you should look for the best cultivar. The Kenyan, Jamaican, and Indian cultivars are the sorts of cultivars that thrive in Kenya. The Jamaican cultivar, however, is the most suggested for commercial farming. Indian and Kenyan cultivars are viewed as sub-par and have a dim skin hence not ideal for commercial purposes. 

Ideal soil conditions and climate for ginger farming

The size and shape of tubers are some of the factors that people consider before buying. Ginger performs best in soils with an alkaline or neutral pH. Acidic soils influence the size and shape of ginger rhizomes and hence farmers should not cultivate ginger in such soils. Ginger thrives in areas that receive overwhelming precipitation that is followed by a hot dry season. In Kenya, they flourish in Coastal areas and areas close to Lake Victoria.

Nematodes in Ginger Farming

Ginger rhizomes are susceptible to nematodes although they can be managed by ensuring crop rotation with plants such as chillies. Farms that have been previously used for cultivating bananas should be avoided since they increase the possibility of ginger being affected by nematodes. Ginger rhizomes should be dipped in fungicides before planting to minimize the cases of nematodes.

Manure and Fertilizer Application

To ensure healthy growth and optimum yields, regular manuring should be ensured. Manure should be applied regularly to ensure that the plants have the necessary nutrients. Fertilizers can also be applied especially in soils that are not fertile to provide the plants with the required nutrients. Fertilizer application is recommended during planting.

Weeding and Mulching

Mulching plays an important role in ginger farming. For instance, it enhances water retention, increases soil fertility and helps in controlling weeds. Also it minimizes water loss through evaporation. Ginger can be mulched using grass or debris. Weeds can compete with the plants and hence they should be controlled early. Chemical control should, however, be avoided.

Harvesting and Storage

Time for harvesting the rhizomes varies and their demand is high throughout the year. Ginger takes between 8 – 10 months to mature depending on the weather conditions. After harvesting, dried ginger should be stored in an area that free from dampness. One acre can produce about 10 tonnes of crisp ginger. In the local market, a small ginger rhizome goes for around KES 5 – KES 10 depending with the market and hence you can imagine the amount of money you will receive with 10 tonnes.

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Why I Shifted From Coffee to Hass Avocado Farming

Hass Avocado Farming

From far, the farm resembles a splendid rain forest with evenly spaced trees growing in straight lines. As one approaches Maina’s farm, one cannot fail to notice dozens of hass avocado fruits hanging loosely from lush-green trees.

What made you venture into Hass avocado farming?

“There are dozens of ripe fruits in the farm and I will be harvesting in the next few days,” Maina Karuiru says happily. Karuiru started practicing avocado farming in 2006 on his farm located in Mathira, Nyeri County. He started avocado farming when the coffee industry became shaky and barely bringing any profits.

“I am happy that I shifted from coffee to Hass avocado farming. Most of my colleagues who stuck to coffee have faced numerous challenges as the once-lucrative industry declines.”

The farmer recalls couple of years ago when coffee farming was a lucrative venture. “In the 1980s, coffee prices were relatively high, and we used to make good money. Unfortunately, there has been a significant drop of coffee prices in the international market. Considering the maintenance costs for the crop, coffee farmers are barely making significant profits.”

Karuiru uprooted 500 coffee trees to make room for the avocado trees. This was his first step to shift from coffee to avocado farming, a move that was not supported by his neighbors. At first, Karuiru started with 100 trees and increased the number to 222 in the second year. Currently, he has 322 avocado trees that are evenly spread on a three-acre farm. 

Compared to coffee, avocado farming is a profitable venture and the trees require little maintenance.

“Previously, when I was doing coffee farming, 500 coffee bushes earned me Sh 41,000. Last season, I earned Sh 37,000 from 7 avocado trees, which is the reason why I uprooted the coffee bushes.”

Karuiru has two varieties in his three-acre farm; Fuerte mainly for the local market and hass avocado mainly for export. He targets the European market and exports most of his produce to European countries.

When should you plant Hass Avocado?

“Seedlings should be planted at the beginning of the rainy season. Trees require a lot of water especially when after planting. They should well-spaced, with a spacing of about 7 by 7metres. Poor spacing makes the canopies to overlap and causes a significant drop in the yields.”

Do you use manure during planting?

For better growth, the holes should be filled with 5kgs of manure during planting. DAP fertilizer can be added later to boost the growth of the trees. Karuiru prefers goat droppings for manure. Compared to cow dung, goat droppings decompose faster.

Which variety do you have in plenty?

On his farm, Karuiru has the hass avocado variety in plenty. “The demand of Hass avocados is high both in the local and international market, and fetches good prices,” the farmer says. In the export market, one Hass avocado fruit goes for an average of sh10 and even higher. Europe, especially Holland, Germany, France and U.K, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, and China offer the market for avocados. Karuiru mainly exports his fruits to Holland and France but he is eyeing the Chinese market also.

Avocados fetch him more than Sh 600,000 every season. “With the high profits from avocado farming, I cannot go back to coffee,” he says.  To produce more fruits in the next season, Karuiru prunes his trees after harvesting. He also keeps bees to boost pollination.

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Where to buy seedlings

Karuiru advises farmers to be careful when buying seedlings, especially when buying from roadside nurseries. Poor quality seedlings mean poor production of the trees and low yields. Farmers should buy seedlings from certified nurseries. Oxfarm LTD offers high-quality seedlings. Unlike other sellers, Oxfarm offers agronomical support to farmers to ensure that they employ proper farming techniques and also help them get market for their produce.

(Article Courtesy of Nation Media- Seeds of Gold)

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WE ARE HIRING

Sales Manager

Oxfarm Ag Ltd is seeking to hire a Sales Manager who will be responsible for supervising and organizing our sales team. You will be in charge of managing organizational sales by developing business plans, meeting planned goals, and coordinating with our marketing department on lead generation. You will also be tasked with overseeing the activities and performance of your sales team by tracking sales goals, setting individual sales targets, and facilitate the ongoing training of your salespeople.

In order to succeed in this role, you will need excellent communication skills and the ability to lead a sale team. Previous experience in a sales-related role is a plus.

Sales Manager Responsibilities:

  • Managing organizational sales by developing a business plan that covers sales, revenue and expense controls.
  • Meeting planned sales goals.
  • Setting individual sales targets with the sales team.
  • Tracking sales goals and reporting results as necessary.
  • Overseeing the activities and performance of the sales team.
  • Coordinating with marketing on lead generation.
  • The ongoing training of your salespeople.
  • Developing your sales team through motivation, counseling and product knowledge education.
  • Promoting the organization and products.
  • Understand our ideal customers and how they relate to our products.

Sales Manager Requirements:

  • Experience in planning and implementing sales strategies.
  • Experience in customer relationship management.
  • Experience managing and directing a sales team.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills.
  • Dedication to providing great customer service.
  • Ability to lead a sale team.

How to Apply

Send your CV and cover letter to ask@oxfarm.co.ke on or before 15th March 2020. Kindly note only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

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Cigar end rot disease in Bananas

Cigar end rot is a disease that can ruin your banana farming venture. It is prevalent in almost all banana growing tracts. It affects the developing fingers which results in the tip ends of the fingers drying up. The ends resemble the greying ash of a cigar. Affected fingers are rejected in the market and hence can result in huge losses. It is therefore important to control the disease before its too late. The fungal disease can also attack ripening banana fruits making a dry rot to develop at the flower ends. During transportation or storage, cigar end rot can progress to the entire fruit. This disease is common when there is high rainfall.

Disease Cycle of Cigar end rot

The pathogen gets into the banana finger through the flower resulting in the formation of a dry rot that spreads to immature banana fingers. Fungal spores/ conidia are spread by air currents and the days mainly occur in the early days of fruit formation. The infection spreads slowly as the fruit develops leading to skin blackening. With time, the tips of the infected fingers are fully covered with a powdery mass of spores. Cigar end rot is common in plantations with excessive shade and high altitude areas with moist conditions.

Common Signs & Symptoms

  • Presence of black necrosis which spreads from the perianth to the tip of immature fingers.
  • Dry rot develops on the pulp of the infected banana fruit. At times, the rot can spread even up to 2 centimeters from the tip of the fingers.
  • The wrinkled necrotic tissue eventually becomes completely covered with the mycelia of the fungi.
  • The entire finger can get rotten especially when the emerging fingers are affected.

Etiology

  • The formed fungal spores are hyaline, oblong to cylindrical. These spores are mostly in small groups.
  • Since they are asexual spores, conidia are borne at the ends of tapering phialides.
  • The dormant mycelia are the primary source of inoculum while air and soil-borne conidia are the secondary sources of inoculum.
    Epidemiology
  • High humidity ranging from 90-92%, high rainfall and low temperatures, and weak plants provide an ideal environment for disease development.

Management of Cigar end Rot Disease

  • Farmers should use healthy and disease-free and resistant plants.
  • Filed sanitation should be maintained at all times. Since the disease is carried by an alternate host, all potential hosts of the fungus should be removed from the banana plantation immediately. Dead, hanging leaves should be removed from the plants to lower the inoculum level.
  • Once the fruits have been formed, the perianth and pistil should be removed immediately. Infected fingers should be removed and destroyed.
  • Enough aeration should be ensured in the plantation by minimizing the overcrowding of the banana plants.
  • Polythene sleeves should be placed over the stems before the fingers emerge.
  • Maturing stems should be constantly bagged.
  • The bunches should be sprayed with copper fungicides to prevent disease formation.
  • To minimize the chances of post-harvest infestation, ripening room and packing stations should be kept clean.

If controlled, cigar end rot can result in huge losses. Over the past few years, the occurrence of the disease has increased simply because farmers are unable to employ proper management techniques. Healthy and disease-resistant varieties are what anyone should consider planting.

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How to Control Tuta Absoluta in Tomatoes

The heavy rains have facilitated an increase in the cost and demand of tomatoes. This is because the rains have damaged the roads and resulted in an increase in the diseases that have affected tomatoes, especially on open field farms. In the process, this has disrupted the supply of tomatoes.
Growing tomatoes can be disastrous if your crops get infested by Tuta absoluta. Over the past few years, a large number of farmers have suffered huge losses after their precious crops were infested and destroyed by the dangerous pest. If effective control measures are not employed early enough, the pest can destroy an entire tomato farm.

Detection

For effective management, proper diagnosis is important. The input dealers, service providers, and farmers need to correctly identify the possible symptoms of Tuta absoluta such as coalesced lesions.

Damage caused

The pest mainly spreads through seedlings, tomato fruits, and containers. Tuta absoluta can also come from production greenhouses or through the soil. It feeds on all parts of the tomato plant such as the stem, leaves, inflorescences, and the fruits. Symptoms of the tomato leaf miners include leaf mines, rolled leaves, lesions, abnormal shape, necrotic areas, and exit holes. If these symptoms are detected, corrective measures should be taken. Leaf mines are found on the upper and lower parts of the leaf lamina. With keep observation, one can see white or cream tunnel marks on the leaves and sometimes green caterpillars inside the tunnel. The caterpillars produce silk-like substance at an advanced stage which partially webs and folds the leaves to protect the developing larva until it matures. At times, the leaves completely die off and the fruits reduce in size and fall off before reaching maturity. When the fruits are damaged, fungal diseases enter resulting in rotting of the tomato fruits before harvesting. The yield of tomatoes can reduce by even more than 60% if the tomato fruits are severely infested by Tuta absoluta.

Control

Controlling Tuta absoluta is a challenging process. This is because it has a short life cycle, a fast reproductive rate, a concealed larvae stage inside the tomato plant parts and nocturnal adults. The life cycle of the tomato leaf miner is completed within 35 days. The effectiveness of chemical control depends on the nature of damage of the pest. Integrated Pest Management should be adopted to ensure that sustainable management measures are employed in the control of Tuta absoluta. Chemical, cultural or biological measures can be employed to control the destructive pest.

Chemical control

Spraying the same product frequently results in pest resistance, therefore, the insecticides should be alternated after two sprays. Regular crop monitoring and scouting help farmers to make the right decision on when to spray and the insecticide to prevent severe infestation of pesticides.  Due to the trans-laminar damage of Tuta absoluta and the fast development of resistance, insecticide use has become challenging. However, the pest can be controlled with insecticides such as Radiant, Tracer, Belt, Tihan, Escort, and Coragen. Farmers should also sterilize the soil before planting to ensure that they kill any eggs present in the soil.

Cultural control

Cultural control involves measures such as plowing, irrigation, and crop rotation with non-solanaceous crops such as capsicum, beans, and maize. Plants such as potato, Pepino, eggplant, tobacco, and nightshade should not be grown on tomato fields since they host the pest. The tomato farms should be kept weed-free since some weeds such as Datura spp. and managu act as alternative hosts of Tuta absoluta. Solarization and elimination of symptomatic leaves can also help in controlling the pest. Infested tomato fruits and debris should not be dumped in markets, collection points, and at farm edges. They should be instead be buried in deep holes.

Biological control

Biologically, Tuta absoluta can be controlled using predatory bug ‘Macrolophus pygnaeus’, Trichogramma spp, and  Entomopathogenic fungi

Sustainability

Integrated pest management measures help in promoting sustainability in tomato farming. The methods employed should enable farmers to produce high-quality tomatoes hence more returns. Extensive application of cultural and biological control has a positive impact on biodiversity and the ecosystem.

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New European Union Regulations on Plant Health

Hass Avocado Farming

The European Union provides the biggest market for Kenya’s exports. Fruit flies are one of the phytosanitary pests that cause devastating effects on fruits. Previously, mangoes were one of the most exported fruit from Kenya. For a long time, Kenya has been exporting processed and unprocessed mangoes to international markets such as the European Union. However, the exportation of unprocessed mangoes to the European Union has been stopped due to the presence of fruit flies. Fruit infestation by exotic and native pests has facilitated to reduced market access, affecting family incomes and foreign exchange negatively.

(EU) 2016/2019

Phytosanitary rules aim to protect European forestry and agriculture by preventing the entry of non-native pests and diseases. Due to climate change, pests can easily survive in Europe. It was hence important to update the existing rules to curb the increased risks and to put uniform rules across the Member states of the European Union. To prevent the entry of pests into the EU states, a new plant health regulation (EU) 2016/2031 has already come into operation. Those who exporting horticultural products such as fruits and vegetables must take strict measures to comply with the new rules. The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) states that the rules are aimed at simplifying, modernizing, and improving the existing health and safety standards for the agri-food chain. Smarter rules show that efficient pest and disease control measures must be enforced.

Plant health is essential for the protection of the EU’s forests, nature, plant production, and biodiversity. The regulation (EU)2016/2031 emphasizes on effectively mitigating phytosanitary risks. Currently, there are some plants whose phytosanitary risks have to be thoroughly assessed.

The new European Union regulation improves traceability and brings changes in the classification of plant pests

According to the new rules, pests are classified as either priority pests which are harmful pests that rarely occur in the European Union, protected zone quarantine pests which are only seen in certain regions in the EU, and Union quarantine pests which occur in most parts of the EU. There are degrading pests such as proliferation disease that reduce the quantity of the crop and weaken its quality which can cause massive losses. To prevent the entry of pests in the EU, a phytosanitary certificate will be required for fresh plants such as vegetables and fruits.

Phytosanitary certificate

A certificate will be required for all fruits and vegetables except for coconut, banana, dates, and pineapple. High-risk products must be thoroughly inspected by EFSA to determine the conditions in which they must be imported. Phytosanitary certification is also required for cut flowers, seeds, grain products, cut trees and branches, and hop bales.

National Plant Health Act

The new plant health legislation that came into effect on 14th December lays down the provisions for supplementing the plant health regulation. These rules will help in enforcing effective measures to protect the EU’s plants and territories and in the process modernizing the plant health regime. Compared to the current legislation, notable changes are on the import of plants from outside the EU, self monitoring, the use of plant passports, and the classification of plant pests. These changes will have a significant impact on the exporters, farmers and importers.

Proper Care

The high percentage of the quarantined codling moth pest in chili from Kenya has forced the European Union to stop importing it from Kenya. Exporters and farmers have to employ a costly mechanism to control the pest and meet the requirements for the lucrative market. This means that they should create a pest-free zone or export dry chili. Since a thorough assessment is done on all products, the presence of pests, especially the regulated ones will make the EU authorities to apply serious consequences to the exporters.

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Sustainable Agriculture Through Innovation

What Is Innovation?

Innovation is an important factor when it comes to sustainability in agriculture. Responding to climate change, sustainability should be ensured to preserve water, land and biodiversity resources. To respond to opportunities and meet these challenges, it will be important to embrace innovative approaches to boost productivity. An agroecosystem needs production systems that can withstand natural stressors such as pests, diseases, and harsh climatic conditions, trade barriers, and economic cycles to be sustainable. The market for staple crops in various parts of the world is increasing rapidly which means that various ways have to be enforced to meet the rising demand and at the same time not replenishing the available resources. Innovation is hence required to enhance productivity growth and at the same time improving sustainability. To achieve sustainable use of resources, it is important to transform the existing patterns of production and consumption. Sustainable agriculture aims to meet the current food demand without replenishing the available resources.

Benefits of Innovation

Innovation starts with improving seeds and irrigation systems. Industries need to innovate new and better products both in the food sector and the chemical industry. Innovation has many benefits in the agriculture sector. For instance,

  1. It helps in solving problems and increasing the market share in the export market.
  2. It reduces farming costs and wastage of resources, leaving farmers in a better position to focus on their long-term goals. 
  3. Innovation leads to increased turnover and improved profitability.
  4. It also boosts the market position of Kenyan products.
  5. Innovation in farming results in higher crop yields. Innovation facilitates the development of better crops that can thrive in harsh conditions, resistant to most pests and diseases and at the same time producing high-quality yields.

Innovations That promote sustainable agriculture

Technology: Artificial Intelligence and Io T

Precision agriculture is already gaining popularity and its widely used in various parts of the world to improve productivity. This ranges from big data to the use of drones, robots and the application of herbicides and fertilizers using aerial vehicles. These innovations can be used to automate farming practices, monitor crops and to optimize planting schedules. Since technology assists in conservation efforts, many countries are concentrating on agritech. Lately, there have been concerns arising over agricultural sustainability such as predicting water shortages soon. This means that farmers have to employ smart farming to ensure efficient water use. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) can be used to collect and analyze data from their farms and the surrounding environment to help farmers to implement appropriate farming practices. This can enable farming even in areas with limited water access and enhance sustainable agriculture.  Based on information technology, an integrated farm management solution can be an effective way of modernizing the management of natural resources. Technological innovation in agriculture extends the farmer’s capacity by automating most tasks, enhancing farm management, agronomy, and crop management. For instance, the various software design enables farmers to apply precise fertilization strategies based on the crop conditions which helps farmers to boost yields and also reduce reliance on fertilizers.

Agroecology

Agroecology incorporates the farmer’s knowledge and experience with scientific insight and modern ecology. Based on the agroecological approach, everything produced on the farm is beneficial. For instance, debris and animal droppings can be used to make manure that improves soil quality. In return, the yields and nutritional values of the crops increases. Agricultural waste can also be used to feed animals.

BIO-FERTILISERS

The extensive use of chemicals and fertilizers has made the management of pests and diseases more complicated. Constant use of chemicals has resulted in the evolution of resistant breeds of pests. Chemicals and fertilizers have also resulted in water pollution, destroying the soil and the ecosystem. The European Union and China provide the largest market for Kenyan products. However, they have enforced strict measures to minimize the entry of pests into their territories. Recently, the new EU Plant Health Regulation (2016/2031) was enforced which illustrates that plants getting into the European Union should be pest-free. Previously, the EU had stopped importing Kenyan chili due to the presence of the Codling moth on chili. Although Kenya and Uganda have opted to sell chili in the middle-east where the demand is high, the prices are relatively low compared to Europe. The shift in markets has been facilitated by EU’s trade restrictions based on the presence of pests especially quarantine pests.

The phytosanitary requirements imposed by the international market poses challenges in the agriculture sector. For instance, the set MRL means that farmers have to apply pesticides at a controlled rate hence not fully eliminating the targeted pest or disease. Integrated Pest Management can be a good solution to these challenges. Bio-solutions and bio-fertilizers help in suppressing harmful pests while still improving the soil system.

The demand for food is constantly rising as the global population increases. The increased urbanization also facilitates the high demand and therefore smart techniques need to be employed to meet this demand. Since the demand for food is putting pressure on the environment, there is a need for sustainable farming to ensure that agriculture does not contribute to climate change. The European Union and China are emphasizing on sustainability in agriculture and its high time that farmers start employing smart farming techniques.