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How the Hass Avocado dominated the Universe

The demand for the buttery (Hass Avocado) is at an all-time high. Did you know hass avocado’s story began with a delicious mistake?? The success of the Hass variety has enabled avocados to become a global fruit, despite their rather limited growing range. Avocado trees require specialized tropical or subtropical climate because they tolerate neither freezing nor extreme heat, and more than 50 percent of Kenya’s land is suitable for avocado production.

We have previously advised you on the best counties to grow hass avocado in Kenya. All you need to do is contact us and we will do the rest for you.

How Is The Global Demand For Hass Avocado

Americans devour 7 pounds of avocado per person each year, compared to 1 pound on average back in 1989. Per capita consumption of avocados has tripled since the early 2000s. Yet nearly all of these avocados—some 95 percent in the U.S. and about 80 percent worldwide—are of a single variety: the ubiquitous Hass.

That’s especially crazy because, while people have cultivated avocados for thousands of years and come up with more than 400 different varieties, the pebbly, black-skinned Hass didn’t even exist a century ago.

How did Hass come to Dominate the World

Avocados were a popular snack food long before humans hit the scene. In the Cenozoic era, prehistoric megafauna like mammoths and giant ground sloths would gobble the fruit whole and then travel long distances, before pooping out the seed and thus dispersing the trees. Because of  this animal-specific dispersion system, avocados might easily  have vanished with those great mammals 13,000 years ago. But somehow, they survived.

In 1926, according to legend and the University of California at Riverside, California postman Rudolph Hass brought some avocado seedlings home to grow on his La Habra Heights property. One defied repeated attempts to receive grafts from an existing avocado variety, bore no fruit and sorely tempted Hass to cut it down. But instead, he simply let the tree grow unattended.

It was the Hass children, according to the story, who discovered that the tree had produced a fruit that they liked far better than the others: one with a rich, nutty, slightly oily taste. Hass Sr. apparently concurred. “As I’ve heard the story, the kids brought the fruit in to him and he said, ‘wow this isn’t bad.’”

At the time, the reigning avocado variety was the Fuerte, which featured smooth, thin skin and an appealing green hue. By contrast, Hass’ experiment had a relatively unappetizing appearance, with thick, pebbly black skin. But Hass decided that it was what inside that counted—a decision that would change the course of avocado history.

Lucrative Passion-Fruit Farming In Kenya

Advantages Over Other Varieties

It turned out that the Hass had some other big advantages over the Fuerte. The trees grow vigorously, are easy to propagate and produce an impressive amount of fruit by only the second or third year. They have a longer harvest season than other avocados and, perhaps most importantly, the Hass’s thicker skin makes it superior to Fuertes, Pinkertons, Zutanos and other once-popular varieties when it comes to handling fruit and shipping it long distances.

Hass Sr. passed away in 1952, but his creation far outlived him. The roots of this humble collaboration eventually populated the globe with millions of avocado trees, all genetically descended from that single mother tree that lived on at the old Hass place until claimed by root rot disease in 2002.  U.S. Plant Patent No. 139: The Hass avocado. (U.S. Plant. Pat. 139)

In 1945, avocado grower H. B. Griswold extolled many of the new fruit’s virtues in the California Avocado Society Yearbook. “From the market standpoint the Hass would appear to have everything. Excellent quality, popular size, small seed, good shipper,” he wrote. But Griswold also foresaw something that might limit the Hass’s success: “Its single disadvantage is its black color which has been associated in the minds of the public with poor quality fruits,” he wrote.

Thankfully, other growers weren’t as quick to judge the new avocado by its skin. When the industry expanded dramatically in the 1970s, Hass plantings led the way. Then, in the 1980s, the Hass’s dark skin became a boon. That’s when the industry began ripening avocados en-masse, believing that a ready-to-eat product would sell better. Avocados ripen off the tree, not on it. So by putting fruit in a 68 °F room and using ethylene gas to spark the fruit’s own production of this natural ripening hormone, avocados could be brought to market ripe and ready.

Best of all, in the Hass’s case, that meant they didn’t show blemishes from handling damages like green-skinned avocados did. “The Hass’s ripened, black skin hides about 90 percent of that,” Arpaia says.

Tim Spann, research program director for the California Avocado Commission, describes how the public was brought on board. “An early marketing campaign of the Commission was the ‘Ripe for Tonight’ program that helped to educate consumers outside of California about this new fruit and how to tell when it was ripe,” he said. “This was done by talking about the built-in ripeness indicator—the black peel—and placing stickers on fruit at the point of sale that said, ‘Ripe for Tonight.'”

The industry is so large that Mexican authorities are concerned about the industry’s deforestation impacts. But experts like are also worried about something else: that this monoculture is quickly displacing wild avocado species with the help of hungry humans. “I went to Chiapas, Mexico, one of the world centers for avocado diversity,” she recalls. “We had visions of seeing all these different types of avocados. What did we see? They were cutting down wild avocados and planting Hass trees.”

“In California, for example, Hass fruit mature in about April on average, but because the fruit hang on the trees really well, we can continue harvesting into September or maybe even October in a really large crop year. Combine this trait with numerous producing areas—California, Mexico, Chile, New Zealand, South Africa, Israel—and you can supply the world year-round,” Spann says. “Essentially, Hass is the perfect avocado for the world market as we know it today.”

Kiwi-Fruit Farming: New Money Maker for Farmers

More Research Required

Arpaia concurs that the Hass has its benefits. But she also warns that we need new varietals, to stave of the hopefully remote prospect of an avocado Armageddon. When crops have little genetic diversity they become vulnerable to pests or diseases that are particularly well adapted to wipe out their specific type. One example is the way that that a fungus known as “Panama disease” decimated world banana production not once but twice in the 1950s and today, by targeting the varieties on which growers had come to rely.

Before you panic, let us be clear: no such threat appears imminent for Hass avocados. But if one were to appear, it could evolve and spread quickly, says Arpaia. “The whole world is marketing Hass,” she says. “It’s very difficult to introduce new varieties right now. But I think down the road we need new varieties.” …

On the flip side, it’s possible that the avocado’s unflagging popularity might actually help ensure its genetic diversity and continued success.

If foodies demand, and are willing to pay premiums, for other varieties, we could soon be seeing all manner of new avocados. “If you look at apples, Red Delicious still exists and is still a considerable part of the industry, but it was sort of a gateway apple and now consumers want to try other varieties to see what other flavor profiles are out there,” Spann points out. “I think in time the same will happen with avocados.”

Entirely new avocados will also emerge as experts like Arpaia continue to experiment with breeding. “The game is on to find something that’s better than the Hass,” she says. “It’s not perfect. For example, it’s heat tolerant but not as heat tolerant as we’d like it to be.” A heat-loving Hass relative would allow California’s space-strapped industry to expand into areas like the fertile Central Valley.

At this point, it’s hard to imagine most consumers accepting anything other than the Hass. But considering that avocado’s own unlikely story—from prehistoric sloth meal to celebrated toast-topper—nothing can be ruled out. If a new avocado does someday spread across the globe, here’s hoping its creators get to enjoy the fruits of their labor a bit more than Rudolph Hass.

Source (Brian Handwerk , smithsonian.com )

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Why Rise of Medium-scale Farms in Kenya is Good News

Population growth and growing land scarcity in Kenyan households are the causes of the gradual sub-division of their land. In  Kenya over time farms are getting smaller and smaller. In Kenya today, 80% of farms are relatively densely populated. Because they’re so small, few can generate enough income to keep farmers above the poverty line and most of them increasingly rely on off-farm incomes.

However, over the past ten years ago, we have started to see evidence of a major rise in the number of medium-scale, Kenyan-owned farms.

Within the past decade, the amount of agricultural produce that these farms contribute to countries’ national output has risen rapidly. In Kenya, medium-sized farms now account for roughly 40% of the country’s marketed agricultural produce.

While much remains unknown and the story is still unfolding, we believe that medium-scale farms are an important driver of rural transformation in much of Kenya – with mostly positive results.

Influential Kenyans

For about ten years there’s been a prolonged surge in global food prices. This ushered in major, and much publicised, investment in Kenyan farmland by foreign investors. What happened largely under the radar were huge farmland investments by African professionals, entrepreneurs and civil servants.

The amount of land acquired by these medium-scale Kenyan farmers since 2000 far exceeds the amount acquired by foreign investors.

They are relatively wealthy and influential, often professionals, entrepreneurs or retired civil servants. Many accumulated wealth from non-farm jobs, invested in land and became either part-time or full time farmers.

Many are based in rural areas and have political or social influence with local traditional authorities. Others are urban “telephone farmers” who retain jobs in the cities, hire managers to attend to their farms and occasionally visit on weekends.

In some counties, many current medium-scale farmers started out as small-scale farmers who successfully expanded their operations.

Medium-scale farmers bring new sources of capital and know-how to African agriculture. They have in Kenya become a politically powerful group that are well represented in farm lobbies and national agricultural strategies. They have solidified Kenyan government’ commitments to support agriculture.

They get their land from traditional chiefs or by purchasing land from others, including small-scale farm households. Displaced smallholders, especially young people, tend to move off farm in search of other sources of employment.

What Are the Reasons for more Medium-Scale Farms in Kenya

First, rapid population growth, urbanization and rising incomes have contributed to massive growth in demand for food in Kenya. Kenyans with the resources to respond to this demand are doing so.

Second, many Kenyans with money and resources found farming to be a lucrative investment opportunity – especially during this sustained period of high global food prices since the mid-2000s.

Third, policy reforms in the 1990s removed major barriers to private trade and improved the conditions for private investment in Kenyan agri-food systems. One example of this was the removal of restrictions on private movement of food commodities across district borders. The effects of these reforms exploded after world food prices suddenly skyrocketed. They enabled thousands of small, medium and large-scale private firms to rapidly respond to profitable incentives.

Small-Scale farmers in Kenya

With the rise of the medium-scale farms, we expected to find that smallholders were being marginalized. But we’ve changed our views on this in light of various pieces of evidence.

First, medium-scale farms are providing access to markets and services for nearby smallholder farms. For example, many medium-scale farms have attracted tractor rental providers, who now provide mechanization services to smallholders. This allows them to farm their land with much less labour input, freeing up opportunities to work in off-farm pursuits.

Second, large trading firms are setting up buying depots in areas where there’s a high concentration of medium-scale farms. This improves market access for smallholders too.

We also found that the medium-scale farms are good for the local economy. They inject cash into the local economy through their expenditures, stimulating off-farm employment opportunities for many rural people who were formerly dependent on subsistence farming.

Medium-scale farms have also contributed to sub-Saharan Africa’s 4.6% annual rate of agricultural production growth between 2000 and 2018. This is the highest of any region in the world over this period.

While there are a lot of positives, these changes are uprooting the traditional social fabric and creating new power structures. The rise of land markets is creating a new class of landless workers who are dependent on the local non-farm economy for their livelihoods. Policy makers will need guidance on how to minimize these hardships –- protecting those who are most vulnerable as the processes of economic transformation gradually raise living standards for the majority of the population.

If you have a land lying idle, this is the time to make money out of it! population is rising and people must eat so take this opportunity and feed them.

 

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How Demonstration Farms Can Revive Farming in Kenya

Farms that showcase agricultural technology and techniques that improve crops and production are known as demonstration farms and are a smart investment that can help accelerate the espousal of game-changing innovations. Farmers can learn new ways of doing things without having to do it on their farms.

Demonstration farms are used to teach various agricultural techniques and technologies, showcase new or improved crops. They also serve as a venue to research and test new methods alongside traditional ones.

Their sizes can vary widely, ranging from small to big farms. Depending on what’s being tested or showcased, the demonstration farm could have different types of crops and crop varieties, livestock or poultry breeds, fertilizer treatments or technology, such as drip irrigation.

Pepino Melon in Oxfarm.co.ke demonstration Farm at Ridge ways Nairobi

Over a century ago, agriculturalist Seaman Knapp recognized the importance of demonstration farms and he believed in the philosophy of teaching through demonstration. He is regarded as the father of demonstration farms.

Demonstration farms however have a potential of doing much more. They are a few of them however in the country, oxfarm.co.ke however is currently having a demo farm in Ridgeway’s Nairobi. If carefully designed, demostration farms could help revolutionise Agriculture in Kenya as well as Africa. They could help solve some of Africa’s most persistent challenges including degraded soils or the low adoption of irrigation technologies.

They could also help with the uptake of new concepts that are transforming agriculture including precision agriculture – a farm management system that ensures soils and crops receive exactly what they need for optimal growth and productivity. Or conservation agriculture – a sustainable agriculture production system comprised of three linked principles; minimal soil disturbance, mixing and rotating crops and keeping the soils covered as much as possible.

You Only Have One Month To Prepare; Hass Avocado Farming Package

Where Does Demonstration farms Work?

In Israel, a centre for agricultural development has trained over 270,000 people from 132 countries in its various courses, 70% of which use demonstration agricultural farms.

There have also been substantial advances on the continent. In Nigeria, a fertilizer company has over 3,000 demonstration farms that it uses to showcase and teach farmers about modern farming practices.

In Ghana, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture has established over 1,242 community demonstration farms that showcase new agricultural technologies.

Here in Kenya, apart from our demo farm, a demonstration farm in Meru is teaching women everything they need to know about conservation agriculture. This includes covering crops like grass or legumes, to provide seasonal soil cover to protect bare land. These kinds of steps improve crop productivity, increase yields as well as profits and food security.

Farmers can see how practices work over time, ranging from one season to another to a period of years. They are then able to use them on their own farms. In Kenya over 10,000, of over 7 million farmers, have adopted these practices.

Non-governmental organizations are also using demonstration farms. Development in Gardening in Kenya, for example, uses demonstration farms as classrooms to showcase good agricultural practices.

State of Hass Avocado Farming in Kenya

What Should be Done

The need for demonstrations farms can’t be overemphasized – particularly in Africa. Challenges such as droughts, degraded soils and low crop productivity persist and threaten the livelihoods of millions of people.

One of the major challenges is funding. Setting up demonstration farms to try new technologies or best practices takes lots of funds, time and effort.

Luckily there are several funding agencies, including governments, that fund demonstration farms.

 

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How To Make Farming in Kenya Profitable And Productive

Farming in Kenya is the backbone of Kenya’s economy, employing 70% of the population, and contributing half of Kenya’s export earnings and a quarter of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). Since most Kenyans live in rural areas and practice farming, raising agriculture incomes – a centerpiece of Kenya’s Agenda 4 plan– is critical to reducing poverty, boosting prosperity and creating jobs, especially for women and youth.

The rising population and growth of incomes have increased the demand for food and agro-processed products. This is putting increased pressure on the environment amid frequent and severe climate conditions, made worse by the continued dependence on rain-fed agriculture. Combined with poor agricultural practices, low technological adoption, insecurity over land ownership, poor access to extension services, low quality inputs, and lack of credit, the report notes that the agriculture sector continues to be hindered from realizing its full potential.

Challenges notwithstanding, Farming in Kenya has enormous potential to transform the economy and make farming much more productive and profitable for Kenyan smallholder farmers. In stark opposition to supply-side constraints, demand-side opportunities for agriculture and food for Kenya and its neighbors are the strongest they have ever been. Booming domestic and regional demand for higher-value foods arising from income growth, urbanization, and dietary shifts offer massive opportunities for Kenyan farmers, and for value chains beyond farm production, and better jobs in agriculture. Other areas of potential identified are developments in agricultural technology and ICT, and various successful agribusiness models that could be up scaled.

Dickson Kahuro an Agronomist and farmer, prioritized the use of technology in his agribusiness when he decided to register his company in 2014.  He designed and developed tools to manage logistics, inventory, cash flow management and also staff management while in office and in the field.

Profitable pig farming in Kenya

Basic Policy Action

For Kenya to maximize its potential and take advantage of the opportunity to become a regional agri-food powerhouse, there are strategic decisions and the needs to be addressed in Kenya, and success stories to draw on. There three main areas for policy action and investment namely;

  • commercialization through value-addition and trade;
  • strengthened public institutions and policy, and
  • enhanced resilience of agriculture production and rural livelihoods.

Strengthening the institutional base of agriculture, removing identified distortions, facilitating trade, and enhancing resilience through climate-smart agriculture and low-cost irrigation systems can help closing the potential-performance divide of Kenyan agriculture. High priority actions should be discussed in multi-stakeholder under national coordination in the Agricultural Ministry.

Kenya’s agriculture sector may not be transformed overnight. But making the right adjustments now will be critical to realize the Vision 2030.”

With access to more finance, more efficient farming and climate-smart practices, Kenya will be able to reach its potential in agricultural returns.

 

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How to start Kienyeji chicken farming for eggs/chicks production

Many farmers in Kenya have overlooked the potentials in Kienyeji chickens. Starting a Kienyeji chicken farming is a good, cheap means to boost eggs and chicks production. This guide will help you with starting a Kienyeji chicken farm, either for meat, eggs or chick production.

Introduction to Poultry Production

Poultry contributes to improved human nutrition and food security by being a leading source of high quality protein in form of eggs and meat. It acts as a key supplement to revenue from crops and other livestock enterprises, thus avoiding over dependency on traditional commodities with inconsistent prices. It has a high potential to generate foreign exchange earnings through export of poultry products to neighboring countries. Poultry is highly prized in many social-cultural functions such as dowry and festivities.

The poultry industry is rapidly growing. The industry is characterized by widely diverse methods of production which include the following: village flocks, small-scale commercial flocks and large-scale commercial farms.

Constraints in poultry production include:

  • Production related constraints
    • inadequate access to improved breed
    • Access and affordability of feed
    • Disease control
  • Lack of knowledge and skills
  • Inadequate capital at all levels and marketing.

Systems of Management in Poultry Production

  • Free range
  • Semi-intensive
  • Intensive

Housing

  • Housing space should be 2 metres by 3 metres or be a traditional brooding basket. The traditional brooding basket can be used as a brooder basket for chicks, either inside or outside the house.
  • House should be raised to protect birds from predators.
  • Perches should be provided in the house for chicken to roost on at night.
  • The house should be well ventilated.
  • Preferably have cemented floor for ease of cleaning and disinfecting
  • Be rat-proof
  • Using plenty of litter after cleaning the poultry house
  • Keeping the right number of birds in poultry houses
  • Separating chicks from old birds

Management of chicks

  • Before chicks arrive at home; make sure that;
    • A brooder is in place
    • Paraffin lamps/electric bulbs/charcoal stove is available
    • Litter for the floor is available
    • 1m2 will accommodate 20 chicks up to 4 weeks old.
  • Temperature control: 35C for day-old chicks, 24-27C for 1 week. Reduce heat as they grow especially at night.

Physical features of a good Kienyeji layer chicken

  • Bright red comb and wattles
  • Alert eyes
  • Width between pelvic bones should measure at least 2 fingers
  • The beak and claws should look bleached
  • The cloaca should be moist

Cost and returns of establishing successful dairy farm

Advantages in choosing Kienyeji chickens for farming

  • They are self-sustaining i.e. can raise their own replacement stock
  • They are hardy birds that can survive hard conditions
  • Management requirements are not critical as those of commercial exotic breeds
  • They are immune to some diseases and parasites
  • Their products fetch more money than those from exotic birds

Limitations in choosing Kienyeji chickens for farming

  • They have low growth rate
  • They produce fewer small sized eggs and comparatively little meat
  • People keep them without commercial purposes
  • They have been neglected by breeders/scientists despite their potential

How to Improving the production of Kienyeji chickens

Control of parasites and diseases

  • External parasites that affect Kienyeji chicken include: poultry body louse, stick tight flea, poultry lice, ticks, feather mites and leg mites.
  • Control can be done using commercial/synthetic or herbal insecticide.
  • Herbal preparations are cheaper for Kienyeji chicken but a lot of research is still needed in this area to establish proper dosage.
  • Internal parasites include worms and coccidia.
  • Worms can be eliminated using a potent dewormer preferably given as a tablet because these chickens have low water consumption.
  • Deworming should be done at least every month.
  • Commercial coccidiostats can be used alternately with herbal preparation. These must be given to birds on 8th, 9th, and 10th days of age. Repeat as directed by veterinarian.
  • In early days, vitamins-mineral mixtures should be given to chicks to minimize losses.
  • Vaccination of birds especially against New Castle Disease. Target first vaccination at the beginning of the dry seasons, repeat after one month and every four months thereafter.

Interested in the fruit farming and export business in Kenya?

 Feeding Kienyeji Chickens

  • Farmers can mix their own feeds using the abundant carbohydrate and protein feed available in their area.
  • Feeding should be accompanied by green feeds and fruits such as pawpaw.
  • Only palatable green feeds should be given to birds.

The following should be done in rearing Kienyeji chickens:

  • Vaccination against Newcastle disease
  • De-worming
  • Remove mites and lice manually or better still using medicated powder
  • Provide water as much as possible
  • May supplement free range with other feeds e.g. maize bran and concentrates
  • Avoid buying chicken in dry seasons because diseases, especially Newcastle, are more rampant in dry seasons
  • Avoid buying birds when there is a disease outbreak
  • Buy birds of almost the same age i.e. 2-3 months are more ideal. Avoid buying old birds
  • Plan for synchronised mating and therefore synchronized reproduction and production to ease management

Precautions to take during egg storage

  • Do not store eggs in a kitchen where it is hot. Heat may partially incubate the egg and kill the embryos in them
  • Do not store them on top of a cupboard because heat from roof may incubate them.
  • Keep eggs in a cool secure place.

Incubation by mother hens

  • Usually one hen starts incubating by staying overnight on the boiled egg
  • Leave this hen on the boiled egg for 10 days while it is waiting for other birds
  • After the 10 days, give all the birds that would have started incubating (within the 10 days) 17 selected but recently laid eggs
  • Leave the birds that refuse to incubate alone
  • If you want to eat or sell, eat/sell those which were laid first (old ones).
  • Avoid giving these eggs to birds for incubation: very small, round eggs, very dirty, cracked eggs, extremely pointed eggs, very big eggs, very old eggs.
  • When done this way, all birds will hatch on the same day. An egg takes 21 days, 6 hrs to hatch.

 General Disease Control Practices

The following can only be used as guidelines for disease control, for proper disease diagnosis and treatment, consult the veterinarian.

  • Don’t overcrowd brooders
  • Adequate ventilation
  • Feed must be of good quality
  • Give clean water ad-lib
  • Don’t mix young and older birds
  • Clean poultry house
  • Dispose of dead birds quickly and isolate sick ones
  • Provide disinfectant at entrance to house

Antibiotics should never be used to replace good management and should be used on prescription by a veterinarian.

Signs of ill health

  • Dullness
  • Reduced feed intake
  • Reduced water intake
  • Low egg production
  • Reduced growth rate
  • Rough coat

Record keeping

Records to keep include:

  • Production data such as number of eggs produced, number of egg hatched
  • Quantity of feed eaten
  • Health interventions e.g. treatment
  • Deaths
  • Sales and purchases

 

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State of Hass Avocado Farming in Kenya

Hass Avocado farming

The agricultural sector in Kenya is a booming one with myriad rich opportunities. Even the government has acknowledged it by trying to improve things in the sector and thus shift focus from Maize farming. The agricultural business has little or no risk involved. Plant rearing and animal rearing are the major areas in the agriculture that has lots of benefit. The list of crops and trees that can be cultivated for sale is a massive one. Hass avocado is high on that list after banana and mangoes. The hass avocado farming has attractive financial significance from its sweet fruits. So engaging in hass avocado farming in Kenya presents several employment and business advantages.

Get started on that piece of land just sitting there or invest in some plots of land which you can get at cheap prices in remote places. A plot of land can take 150 hass avocado stands with each stand producing up to 1000 fruits of hass avocado. It costs about 40,000 (see our package) to plant an acre of hass avocado  and each fruit can be sold for Ksh 15. Properly planted and cultivated trees can start yielding within 2 years, although in little quantities, but after a few more years, it will begin producing in large quantities.

To have a productive business of hass avocado farming in Kenya, certain things need to be taken serious. One of those is treatment of the trees to fortify them against bugs, sicknesses, infections and other nuisances.

Basic Requirements for Hass avocado farming In Kenya

Amazing benefits of Nduma (Arrow roots) That you Never Knew

Climate condition and location for growing hass avocados: Kenya’s tropical climate is ideal for growing hass avocados.

Soil Condition: while hass avocados can grow in assorted soils like sandy, topsoil, red sand or clayey soils, the best choice however is loamy soil. Whatever soil is used, it must contain soil properties favorable to hass avocado cultivation with soil pH of 6.0 to 7.5.

Water System: Your hass avocado plants need lots of water when young. Having an irrigation system for it is therefore necessary. During dry season your trees should be watered every 2 days.

 

 

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7 Things To Consider Before Leasing Land for Farming

In Kenya, land is becoming scarce and one of the aspiring farmer’s greatest nightmare is accessing farming land at an affordable price. The prices have hiked and what young and new farmers are doing is scooping up land and renting it. Renting land minimizes risk and it’s the most affordable way of participating in food security and sustainability. However before getting yourself in this business of farming rented farm, here are some things you should consider.

Discover Your Market

Even those farmers who have their own land, its necessary to identify your market -that is , your very first potential customers. You need to first locate the markets where you will sell your products. These could be farmers markets, direct customer targets such as farm-to-table restaurants and independent groceries, or people traveling through the area where you hope to farm. Then search an ever-widening radius around that central market location until you find suitable land at the price you can afford. Before you start to farm, figure out where to rent

Land around Semi and Urban areas

Land in towns and cities seem to be scarce, however it is readily available. There these 50*100 plots in towns and with intensive farming techniques, this can be enough land to turn a modest profit with small crops that make the most efficient use of small spaces.

However, there is this land that is on the outskirts of suburbs before reaching cities and towns, semi-urban spaces are big enough with small acreage to hold an entire hobby farm. For beginners, less land can be more manageable than a rural farm. A semi-urban area might boast some city-like development, but land is available in larger tracts. Semi-urban sites can give your farm a rural feel, while retaining proximity to customers.

Grapes Farming: What you need to know

Facts about Rural farming

In Kenya where white collar job is adored and few young people into farming, you will find that many current landowners and farmers are at retirement age and many find their children living in cities without the desire to return to farming. It’s in your best interest as a farmer to have your land used and to not see it fall into disrepair. Therefore, as an aspiring farmer you can always rent/lease land in rural areas.

A lot of Networking

A deceased farmer’s land might be held by a trust and left vacant by family members who have no interest in ever farming it. In Kenya, most ancestral land can’t be sold but only inherited and one can lease. This kind of farms that’s potentially available for long-term rent is often not advertised. The best tool for finding it is networking.

Ask for Help

One trait that most people don’t have is asking for help. Ask all of your friends and family for some land you can start with. The key is to get something started as soon as you can. Getting started on your own lawn or on borrowed land makes your business visible; creating opportunity to make your land needs known.

Online Marketing

The world has changed and only time will tell where it will take us. Even if you farm for fun,  your hobby farm basically doesn’t exist if it doesn’t have an online presence, especially if you’re planning to farm in the rural areas. Tell your story and share your food philosophy with a simple website or social media, to share the birth and evolution of your farm to gain support and excitement for your business. Use the results to gather market data and apply it to growing your business.

Can poultry farming make you enough money to quit your job?

Lease For Long

This will definitely be driven by a number of factors. Short-term leases or rentals are certainly an option, if it’s your only option. Short-term leases and rentals are least desirable for both the lessor and the lessee. Both offer flexibility but neither offers stability. Decades-long leases are common in rural areas, and they usually include scheduled intervals for revisiting the contract. A lease should be agreeable and beneficial to both farmer and landowner. Maintaining a respectful relationship should lend itself to revisiting the contract as issues arise.

If you are an aspiring farmer, we can help you get some land in the outcasts of major towns in Kenya and if you have land that you would like to lease contact us.

At Oxfarm Ag, farming is our passion and our business!

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Basic skills of a full-time farmer: Don’t gamble with farming, practice these skills

Capsicum farming

Farming is a demanding task, it needs a lot of experience and practical skills in terms of handling the farm work as well as teaching others how to do the work. If you are already a fulltime farmer or you are considering of taking it as a part time job, then you should have the following skills with you.

1. Business Management Skills

Do you manage your farm, or you just do it for fun? The modern world if changing and farming is no longer a hobby or just a thing done for the sake, its considered as “farm business”. For a farmer to gain a lot from farming business, he or she ought to take it seriously and consider it as a business. Farmers need to take training management courses which in turn will help them in taking their farming business to another level. You need to have a clear business plan and where you want to be in the next few years. The following management skills;

  • People Management Skills
  • Financial Management Skills
  • Business Management
  • Sales and Marketing Skills
  • Planning and Organizational Skills

2. Livestock and crop farming Skills

Conduct Enough Research

Those farmers who want to venture into arable farming need knowledge on how to grow crops, control pests, use fertilizers. On the other hand, those interested in livestock farming should learn how to raise farm animals. There are several forums in mainstream media in Kenya that are highlighting how farmers are successive in various endeavors. However, farmers should not always go blindly into it without conducting enough independent research on their own. Farming just like any other job requires you to have enough information and skills.

How to Grow Tomatoes in a Greenhouse in Kenya

Maintenance of soil fertility

These are skills that involve operations, practices, and treatments used to preserve, protect soil and enhance its performance. Soil management practices include;

  • Controlling traffic on the soil surface helps to reduce soil compaction, which can reduce aeration and water infiltration.
  • Cover crops keep the soil anchored and covered in off-seasons so that the soil is not eroded by wind and rain.
  • Crop rotations for row crops alternate high-residue crops with lower-residue crops to increase the amount of plant material left on the surface of the soil during the year to protect the soil from erosion.
  • Nutrient management can help to improve the fertility of the soil and the amount of organic matter content, which improves soil structure and function.
  • Tillage, especially reduced-tillage or no-till operations limit the amount of soil disturbance while cultivating a new crop, and help to maintain plant residues on the surface of the soil for erosion protection and water retention.

The Demand For Honey Is Big, How About You Think Of Bee Keeping

Benefits of soil management

  • Restore soil fertility
  • Maintain soil fertility
  • Make the agricultural process an economic one
  • Help increase yield

Farming is not just a matter of growing a particular crop or feeding a certain kind of livestock. It ought to be taken seriously all year round. Take it as a business, keep records, have a business plan, execute well and you will not regret. Farming if taken seriously can make you money.

 

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Top 10 tastiest and rarest fruits in the world

Ackee

Ackee fruit
Ackee Fruit

Ackee  is a rarest and strange looking fruit that grows in the tropical regions of West Africa. Although native to West Africa the use of ackee in food is especially common in Jamaican cuisine. It is the national fruit of Jamaica and ackee and saltfish is the national dish.

Ackee is pear-shaped but when it ripens, it turns from green to a bright red to yellow-orange and splits open to reveal three large, shiny black seeds each partly surrounded by soft, creamy to spongy white to yellow flesh.

The dried seeds, fruit, bark and leaves are used medicinally. The ackee fruit is canned and is a major export product in Jamaica.

Rambutan

Its an important fruit tree of humid tropical southeast Asia. Traditionally cultivated especially in Indonesia, malysia and Thailand. The fruit is a round to oval single-seeded berry borne in a loose pendant cluster of 10-20 together.

The leathery skin is reddish and covered with fleshy pliable spines hence the name which means ‘hairs’. The fruit fresh which is actually the aril, is translucent whitish or very pale pink, with a sweet, mildly acidic flavor very reminiscent of grapes.

The fruits are usually sold fresh, used in making jams and jellies, or canned. Its bark roots and leaves have various medicinal value and also used in making of dyes.

Dragon Fruit

It is believed to be a native of Mexico. In Tropical and Sub-tropical regions in South America and Asia the dragon fruit flourishes and grows in abundance.

Its outer skin is cactus-like resembling that of the scales of mythical dragons. The fruit’s texture is sometimes likened to that of the Kiwi fruit because of its black, crunchy seed. The flesh which is eaten raw, is mildly sweet and low in calories.

The seeds are eaten together with the flesh have a nutty taste and are rich in lipid, but they are indigestible unless chewed. The fruit is also converted into juice or wine, or used to flavor other beverages. The flowers can be eaten or steeped as tea.

Read: Basic Characteristics of an agri-preneur

Jabuticaba

It is a rare purple colored fruit native to S.E Brazil. It’s a thick-skinned berry and typically measures 3-4 cm in diameter.

It resembles that of a slip skin grape. It has a thick, purple astringent skin that encases a sweet, white or rosy pink gelatinous flesh. Fresh fruits may begin to ferment 3-4 days after harvest. It’s used to make jams, tarts, strong wines and liquors.

Because of its extremely short shelf life fresh jabuticaba fruit is very rare in markets.

Miracle Fruit

Miracle fruit
Miracle fruit

It grows in the tropical forests of W. Africa where it is known for its sweet berry, It has low sugar and a mildy sweet tang. It contains glycoprotein molecule, with some trailing carbohydrates chains, called miraculin.

When the fleshy part is eaten this molecule binds to the tongue’s taste buds, causing sour foods to taste sweet.

In Japan, Miracle fruit is popular among patients with diabetes and dieters.

Read: Why Kakuzi Ltd is abandoning Pineaple and venturing into hass avocado farming

Durian

Its native to South East Asia. It is destructive for its large size, strong odor, and formidable thorn covered husk. Its flesh can be consumed at various stages of ripeness and it is used to flavor a wide variety of savoring and sweet edibles in Southeast Asian cuisines.

Some people regard the durian as having a pleasantly sweet fragrance. Others find the aroma overpowering with an unpleasant odor. The smell evokes reactions from deep appreciation to intense, disgust, and has been described variously as rotten onions, turpentine, and raw sewage.

The persistence of its odor which may linger for several days has led to the fruits banishment from certain hotels and public transportation in South East Asia.

African Horned Cucumber

African Horned Fruit
African Horned Fruit (Also known as Thorn Melon)

Native to Sub-Saharan Africa and its now grown in California, Mississippi, Portugal, Italy, Germany, Chile, Australia and New Iceland. Ripe fruits have yellow-orange skin and lime green, jelly like flesh with a tart taste, and texture similar to a cucumber. It can be eaten at any stage ripening but when over-ripened, will burst forcefully to release seeds.

Its taste has been compared to combination of cucumber and Zuchini, and it is also said to taste like an unripe watered down banana.

Mangosteen

Mangosteen is a tropical evergreen tree believed to have originated in the sunda Islands and the moluceas of Indonesia. It grows mainly in Southeast Asia, South west India and other tropical areas such as Puerto Rico and Florida. The Mangosteen fruit is sweet tangy, juicy, somewhat fibrous with fluid-filled vesicles like the flesh of citrus fruits with an inedible, deep reddish-purple colored rind when ripe.

Cherimoya (Custard Apple)

Cherimoya is mainly grown throughout South Asia, America, Southern Europe and East Africa. It is the most delicious fruit known to man.

The fruit is oval, often slightly oblate, with a smooth or slightly tuberculated skin. The fruit flesh is white and creamy and has numerous dark brown poisonous seeds embedded in it.

The fruit can be chilled and eaten with a spoon, which has earned it another nickname, the ice-cream fruit.  Indeed, in Peru, it is usually used in ice creams and yogurt.

Cupuacu

It’s a tropical rain-forest related to cacao. Common throughout the Amazon basin it is widely cultivated in the jungles of Colombia, Bolivia and Peru in the north of brazil. With the largest production in Para. They are oblong, brown, and fuzzy 20cm long and covered with a thick hard exocarp.

The white pulp of the cupuacu has an odor described as a mix of chocolate and pineapple and is frequently used in desserts, juices and sweets. Basically, its juice tastes like a pear with a hint of banana.

Read: How to make millions from watermelons farming

Now you know, there are millions and millions of fruits in the world. The questions you should ask yourself today is, have you planted a tree-fruit this year? if not, hook up with us and we will guide you on the best fruits that suit your area and expectations.

 

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How to make Silage for your Dairy Cows in Kenya

Hay and silage are preserved feed for dairy animals that come in handy during dry seasons when the green forage is unavailable. Silage making involves fermentation under anaerobic conditions preventing fresh fodder from decomposing and allowing it to keep its nutrient quality.

The process needs sufficient soluble carbohydrates (sugars) for organic acid production. It is recommended that you add molasses to the fodder for its rich in sugars, that allow bacteria to produce organic acids immediately. Acidification and preservation process is catalyzed by the amount of molasses that is added. The more the molasses the faster the process.

Read: How to make millions from watermelons farming

Why you should feed your cows on Silage

It improves high milk production as well as healthy dairy animals, particularly during dry seasons. It is laxative, palatable, digestible, nutritious and requires less space as compared to hay. 

Preparation of Silage

Silage Making process
Suitable Maize for Silage

In Kenya, silage making from maize is popular and forage can be cut from baby maize (at this stage it has highest nutrition value) and can produce maize silage.

Step 1. A farmer needs to decide on the type of crop to be grown for forage or silage. You need to choose hybrid and perennial varieties of crops which can be grown in short duration and produced multiple times.

Step 2. Choose a dry place to dig a pit on slightly sloping ground and depth of the pit should decrease from the higher side of the sloping ground to the lower side by giving wedge like shape. Normally, size and dimension of the pit size depends on the amount of the forage to be stored. For instance, to make 20 bags of forage, you need to dig the pit of 2 cubic metres and 10 m polythene bag and 30 liters of molasses.

Step 3. Using chaff cutter, cut the forage to be preserved into 1 inch pieces.

Step 4. To prevent the forage contact with soil, place the polythene sheet by covering the bottom of the pit and all sides of the pit.

Step 5. Chopped forage should be placed into the pit and spread into a thinlayer and the process repeated until a third of the pit is covered.

Step6. One liter of mollases should be diluted with three liters of water and sprinkled evenly on the forage to be preserved.

Step7. To prevent the forage from rotting, use garden sprayer to evenly distribute the solution (from step 6) throughout silage pit and this will also help in feeding micro-organisms to make the silage ferment quickly and save the silage from rotting.

Step 8. The forage should be pressed with feet to make the air out and protect from fungal attack. This ought to be done with caution as little air causes the fungus and damage the forage.

Step 9. Add more bags of chopped forage after making the room with diluted mollases. Repeat the process of adding forage with diluted molases and pressing until the pit is filled in a doom shape.

Step 10. Pit should be covered after final processing with polythene sheet on top to prevent from any water contact and diga small trench around the sides of the pit.

Step 11. Now the pit should be covered with soil to make the sir out and prevent the polythene damage from rain, birds or any other animals.

Step. 12 The conversation through fermentation may take weeks. Leave the pit until there is a shortage of fodder. The silage can last up to 2 years if it is prepared with well sheeting and good soil cover.

Step 13. To use the silage, open the pit from the lower side of the slope, take the enough silage fodder for one day and close the pit again.

It takes about 30 to 40 days for the silage to mature and be ready for feeding. Never open the whole silage pit at once.

Read: Water storage can help farmers during dry seasons

Silage quality

Silage can be classified as good quality depending on its physical characteristics like taste, smell, and colour but more precisely by measuring the pH in the pit.

A pH of 3.5 to 4.2 indicates excellent fresh acidic/sweetish silage, 4.2 to 4.5 for good acidic, 4.5 to 5.0 fair less acidic and above 5.0 for poor pungent/rancid smelling silage.

Good silage should be light greenish or greenish brown or golden in colour. It should have a pleasant smell like that of vinegar, and acidic in taste, and should not contain mould.

Black indicates poor silage. Overheated silage has the smell of burnt sugar and dry in texture. Badly fermented silage has offensive taste, strong smell, slimy soft texture when rubbed from the fibre or leaf.

Read: Why buy vegetables while you can have your own bag garden?

Feeding Dairy cows with silage

A cow is fed with silage depending on the body weight or generally be given about 6kg to 15kg of silage per day. It is advisable not to feed silage immediately before or during milking especially when the quality is poor as the milk can easily take the smell of the feeds. During these times, a cow can be fed fresh grass, hay, legumes and concentrates. After feeding silage, the bunks and corners of the feeding troughs should be cleaned immediately to prevent contamination.

Read: Profitable poultry farming and production in Kenya

Dairy farmers in Kenya should consider making their own silage rather than buying from outside. If you are planning on having your own silage, plant maize.