Kenya is a farm lover’s dream: abundant uncultivated arable land, tropical climates that permit long growing seasons; a young labor force; and an expanding population that provides a readily available market for produce consumption.
Yet, Kenya is yet to harness these opportunities to ensure sustainable food security and food production. The average age of farmers is about 60 years—in a country where 60% of the population is under 35 years of age. Farmers are also less educated, with younger, more educated Kenyans are leaving rural areas, where farms are located, and moving to cities.
Some of these youngsters are also discouraged by the difficulties of accessing funds or land, the reliance on manual technology in smallholder agriculture, all compounded by the low and volatile profits.
But to remedy these issues, a new report suggests government should change their outlook on agriculture from a subsistence, daily activity into a commercial enterprise. The African Center for Economic Transformation (ACET) says focusing on the entire value chain of the process—land tenure, farming technology, markets, and pricing—would help transform food systems around the continent. Positioning farming “as a business and entrepreneurial endeavor” would also help draw younger people into the practice, and make them see it as less of a “cool” idea and more as a “career option.”
Agribusiness is one of the few sectors that can create the quantum of jobs needed for Africa’s youth.
This marked transformation could be instituted by boosting productivity within the farms and bolstering the link between the farms and other economic segments. For instance, strengthening land tenure privileges ensures the rights of women and minorities and increases the formality of property rights.
Technology and mobile phones should also be increasingly adopted as a way to not only to reach farmers, but also as a mechanism for data collection and analysis on soil conditions, fertilizer application, and climate change. Mechanization should also be expanded in order to ease the back-breaking manual labor and increase yields.
And just like in the modern workplace, the report notes that women should be put on an equal footing with men in order to drive agricultural transformation in Kenya. In Kenya, we still have laws governing marriage, divorce, and inheritance, which still put a barrier against women land ownership—and hinder them from using their plots as collateral for loans.
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Fresh and nutritious fruits. Fruits from your own garden are higher in nutrients than the ones that have traveled several thousand miles to get to your grocery store.
Having your children assist you in the garden can increase the chance that they will eat more of the fruits and vegetables they have helped to grow.
Growing your own fruits can offer you the opportunity to reduce the amount of pesticides that you use in your garden, making them healthier.
Growing your own fruits will save your money at the grocery store.
Gardening increases physical activity. It is a great way to engage the whole family in physical activity and lets them help to take responsibility for the garden.
The fruits grown in your garden will promote health because they are rich in nutrients, especially in phytochemicals, anti-oxidants, vitamin C, vitamin A and folate.
Gardening gives you’re a real sense of appreciation when you can see the bounty of your efforts.
Growing a garden gives you a new appreciation for nature, when you can have the opportunity to see how things grow.
Gardening may stimulate many new interests. You may want to learn more about botany, landscape architecture, photography, nutrition, and farmer’s markets.
Gardening gives you the opportunity to give back. If you have an abundant garden, you might give some of your produce to the local soup kitchen or food bank.
This can be a great time to create memories with your children, memories that can last a lifetime.
Your garden can lead to new skills, and knowledge for you and your family, your child may have a new found interest to become a farmer!
Society and Community
Gardens can foster a great sense of community through parent to parent connections, teacher to student or student to student.
Schools and community may decide to build a community or school garden. This is a tremendous learning tool for all involved as well a providing a source of nutritious fruits
A community/school garden can help to foster and motivate future leaders (e.g., 4-H afterschool programs).
Neighborhood Community Gardens beautify landscape, support local farmers, can create a food secure community where residents do not need to rely on vendors to supply fresh produce.
Tall fruit trees provide shade.
You can use less pesticides or use natural pesticides and this will be less contamination to the environment.
Produce peels and waste can create a lot of green waste and takes up a lot of space in the garbage can. Recycle them to make your own compost. It is less expensive than buying fertilizers.
Turn unsightly lands into attractive landscapes.
Get creative. There is a potential to grow an innovative gardens like futuristic horticulture gardens that are very cost-effective and require substantially less space.
If you’ve got a bit of empty space on your farm, growing a fruit tree is a good way to fill it and still get a passive income- beehives are a similar option, but you can surround a grown tree with beehives for kicks.
Investing in more fruit trees will make them more worthwhile, definitely- the combined benefit of many fruits is always going to be more apparently valuable for the time you spend interacting with the tree every few days. Even ignoring the quality level gain of a fruit tree and placing some kegs or preserves jars right next to your trees can boost the profits you’re seeing from your tree without much extra effort, or you could keep them around as a guarantee of some portable energy consumables during a given season.
Passion-fruit farming could be an extremely remunerative enterprise in Kenya with high and regular income. It is one of the biggest fruit exported by Kenya.
The local market demand is also quite high. The crop is pliable to a good agro-ecological zone from low lands to the highlands. The demand for the fruit on every export and domestic market keeps on growing.
Large quantities of passion fruits are eaten raw locally and at constant time, they’re conjointly exported. East Africa could be a massive provider of recent purple passion fruits to the export market followed by Brazil, Colombia, Zambia and Rhodesia; of that the U.K is that the largest customer. Different exporters embrace Holland, France, United Arab Emirates, German and Belgium.
There are 2 kinds of Passion fruits wide fully grown in Kenya; Yellow and purple. Purple varieties do well at higher altitudes than the yellow varieties. Yellow varieties, on the other hand, tend to yield higher and are resistant against diseases.
The purple selection is acidic, varies in style and appetizing with intense aromatic scent and spherical in form. The yellow Passion-fruit is larger, with similar style however presumably less aromatic, additional acidic and is also spherical in shape.
The fruit will be eaten raw or consumed when extracting the pulp and making juice. The juice is used during a kind of product and the pulp could also be superimposed to completely different dishes. A good vary of cosmetic product and food flavors are derived from the fruit that’s made in Vitamins A and C and carotene.
Passion-Fruit Farming Expected Returns
Most Kenyan farmers have the concern of attempting out some new crop as they’re not perpetually positive of the quantity of profits or losses to be incurred within the whole method. Reality is that, in passion-fruit farming, yields of over 15-20 tonnes are possible. In one year, a farmer might earn up to Sh1 million per acre as compared to 35,000-60,000 shillings earned from wheat or maize farming. A ¼ acre can grow about 350 passion plants or more. One plant with good care can produce 10–15 kg of fruits in a year. Passion fruits sell for Ksh40–100/kg while grade 1 for export can go for around Ksh70–100/kg.
Passion fruit farming has become popular in Kenya, for example the North rift farmers are moving away from maize to passion which has better returns, cheaper to maintain and ready market going as far as Uganda.
The passion plant is a climber; this means there can be creative ways of maximizing on the little space you have. It is concerning time that additional farmers are venturing into passion-fruit farming. This can be one area that with no doubt, one is in a position to reap huge throughout harvest season.
Kenya is frequently cited as a “bright spot” in African agriculture. Conducive government policy, strong donor support and private-sector leadership have helped to create success stories in exports to the EU. Policy changes supporting this growth include the liberalization of the fertilizer market. Following the removal of price controls and subsidies, increased competition led to lower fertilizer end-prices, triggering a 14 percentage-point increase in adoption rates among smallholders. Today, agriculture amounts to half of Kenyan GDP and employs 75% of the Kenyan workforce. Kenyan policy-makers and agribusiness players continue to prioritize the growth of agricultural exports, both in green beans and other cash crops like avocados. be
Kenya is one of the world’s largest producers of avocados, with production of 200,000 tons in 2017.For comparison, the largest producer is Mexico with about 1 million tons produced annually. Local varieties dominate Kenyan production (about 70% of total), whereas Fuerte and Hass, the varieties suitable for export, make up approximately 20% and 10%, respectively.
Kenyan Avocado Export Supply Chain
An estimated 70% of Kenyan avocados – even those for export – are produced on smallholder farms. When not linked to exporters through an out-grower scheme, farmers market their avocados through middlemen, either legally government-certified agents or unofficial brokers. These middlemen typically harvest avocados themselves and organize transport to Nairobi packhorses. This initial leg of transport is usually done with small pickup trucks. Once at the factory, avocados are quality-checked, sorted, washed, waxed, pre-cooled and packed in cartons. Once packed, exporters stuff the cartons into refrigerated containers (“reefers”) outside the processing gate, and shipping companies then transport the reefers to the Mombasa port. There, the reefers, which are controlled-atmosphere-treated, are loaded onto a ship and later trans-shipped in Salalah, Oman. Finally, the reefer containers are unloaded in Europe and delivered to importers
Most often vertically integrated with exporters, packers procure and package a 4-kilogram (kg) carton of avocados at a cost of about US$ 4.10. An additional US$ 1.60/carton is required for shipping to Europe by sea in a reefer. With the import price fluctuating around US$ 7-8/carton, the supply chain overall is profitable. This situation was enabled by government-led infrastructure investments, followed by private-sector investment in reefers, which helped to reduce transport costs versus expensive air shipments. Once this tipping point of profitability was reached, investments started to naturally flow into the sector.
Impacts of Supply Chain Barriers and Potential Solutions
Successful initiatives to overcome supply chain barriers are presented, as well as some remaining opportunities to overcome challenges to future growth.
Transport and Communications Infrastructure
Mombasa is the pivotal port for East African countries and is accessed via the main corridor, the Nairobi-Mombasa highway. By the early 1990s, the quality of this road had deteriorated due to high traffic. The Kenyan government, with the help of the World Bank and the EU, decided to invest in rehabilitating the highway. Investments were made over approximately a decade, ending in 2005. Travel time from Nairobi to Mombasa was reduced by 40%, from 12 to 7-8 hours, and costs decreased as well. Typically, road rehabilitation projects in East Africa drive operational cost reductions of 15%. Although this saving has a marginal impact on the Kenyan avocado industry – less than 1% of the European end price – the incremental benefit is applied to many different value chains. The overall benefit for Kenya and Kenyan agricultural export value chains is thereby important.
Introduction of reefer container technology has made Europe accessible for Kenyan avocados.
One of the major challenges previously faced by this industry was the lack of suitable transport equipment. If not cooled, avocados ripen faster than the time it takes to ship them to Europe. Exports to Europe, therefore, were only possible through expensive air shipments. Alternatively, transporting by sea was only feasible for the more proximate Middle East, where avocados sell for much less than in Europe.
Recognizing this opportunity, exporters first engaged temperature-controlled, break-bulk vessels to replace expensive air freight. They then approached A.P. Moller-Maersk to present the business case for refrigerated container transport. Shipping companies consider a number of factors when evaluating a value chain for reefer investment. Most importantly, they look at the economics and growth potential of the value chain. In this case, if Kenyan avocados were able to be sold profitably when transported by air, there was a clear case for investment in sea freight, provided quality could be maintained during the journey. In addition, key enablers must be in place to ensure sustainable operations. Fortunately, the Kenyan government had invested in the Mombasa port and was able to provide the necessary infrastructure (e.g. specific plugs, berth capacity) to support reefers. Continuous investments are being made to accompany the growth of reefers in the Mombasa port, including a new berth to open this year.
Early packing of containers ensures an uninterrupted cold chain. When dealing with perishable produce, maintaining an uninterrupted cold chain is critical for food quality and safety. When reefers were first introduced, exporters preferred to transport avocados to Mombasa in regular trucks and pack the reefers at the port. Over time, exporters realized that they could command a price premium in EU markets if a cold chain was begun as close to the farm as possible. This price premium outweighed the costs of bringing an empty reefer to Nairobi and loading it at the pack house gate. This extended cold-chain-arrangement also simplified logistics by eliminating one touch-point at the port, and is now common practice.
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Kenya is known to support its budget through agriculture majoring on exports of tea, coffee, flowers. However, Hass avocado is now getting a lot of attention. Kenya is in an ideal location for Avocado production since it’s in subtropical climates and avocados do well in such conditions.
South Africa and Kenya are major exporters of Avocados in Africa, with hass, fuerte, and pinkerton varieties. There is a countless potential for hass avocado production in Kenya due to its climatic conditions especially in central Kenya, upper eastern and rift-valley areas. Most avocado farms are near Nairobi, where packing factories are located for export.
Main avocado seasons for the Kenyan avocados is march to September but the fuerte one starts as early as February while the Hass is normally available from May. Nonetheless, due to the difference in climatic conditions and different avocado growing zones in Kenya, there are fruits throughout the year although in smaller quantities which are mainly sold locally.
Also, Kenya enjoys a competitive advantage over other exporting nations mainly because the hass avocado variety harvesting period extends later in the year than Peru’s, thereby granting Kenya a window of opportunity in the global market. Hass avocados from Kenya sell in European markets at roughly three times their domestic price, making the export options extremely very attractive.
More than 115,000 metric tons of avocado are produced in Kenya annually, where 70% are normally grown by small-scale farmers. Sometimes back, most avocados were traded locally, however, this trend has tremendously changed over time where now over three quarters of the produced avocados is exported overseas.
This drastic change can be attributed to technological advancements called `reefer` introduced by Maersk lines has made it possible to transport Kenyan avocados beyond the middle east to Europe markets.
Most farmers who grow Avocado are commonly found in Muranga, Kiambu, Nyeri, Kisii, Meru as well as Mt. Kenya regions. Over the years, Kenya has seen a sharp increase in the number of counties interested in Kenyan Avocados, and these countries are, Hong Kong, Russia, Singapore, Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, France, Egypt, Spain, Iran, Libya and many more. Leading exporters from Kenya include Mt. Kenya Avocado Farms.
The nutritional benefits of avocado are another boosting factor to its demand. All over the world people knows about its benefits and the wide variety of its uses. Guacamole food, with avocado as its main ingredient is very popular especially in America, greatly increases avocado consumption and importation.
Muranga county government through its Governor Mwangi Wa-Iria has started an initiative of encouraging its residents to embrace farming of hass avocados as a way of eradicating poverty as well as boosting their health. The national government of Kenya has also initiated programs that help in boosting the avocado industry to fully comply with the global requirements. Bodies like KEPHIS are actively involved in monitoring as well as educating farmers and exporters. In addition, other county governments are also helping farmers get good market rather than struggle with brokers who offer them low prices.
As you read this article today, more and more farmers are compelled to start growing Grafted hass avocados, which will triple the country’s production rates for exportation. The sky is not the limit for our esteemed farmers. The future belongs to you farmer who is willing to make your hand dirty!
There is a group of farmers within Muranga County who believe that the Hass avocado is now Kenyan number one variety and that in tonnage it is destined to eventually exceed all other varieties including the Fuerte. This group points out that the Hass season compliments the Fuerte season making possible a two-variety coverage of the year as in the orange industry. Its paramount appeal to the grower for its heavy and precocious production. This fact coupled with its excellent eating and shipping quality, long season and medium size make it a profitable fruit for the entire Avocado industry.
The Hass is gaining acceptance in a wide area, possibly being suited to all avocado counties. This makes the Fuerte the “runner up” to the HASS for top rating and unless some new yet undeveloped variety hass made a spectacular rise the and it will eventually command the largest tonnage in the Kenya avocado industry.
GRAFTED AVOCADO DEMAND FOR SEEDLINGS
Hass trees are vigorous growers and easy to propagate. Trees top worked are usually very upright in growth like the parent tree but nursery trees range from moderately upright to spreading with most of them forming a rather well-balanced head. Close planting of the Hass has produced rather slender trees and some growers have considered this variety an upright tree to be planted as close as 6M by 6M apart.
This procedure has produced very heavy tonnage per acre at a surprising early age but it is undoubtedly true that these groves will have to be thinned. On deep soils, at least 7M spacing would seem to be required for mature trees. The Grafted Hass is very precocious, top worked trees usually bearing the first year and nursery trees by two years. It is quite impressive to produce so much fruit so soon and it is understandable the great grower interest that is developing around this variety. In some Counties growers are turning from the Fuerte to the Hass because of its much greater production in their localities. Although some Hass trees bear regularly there is a marked tendency with most trees to over bear one year and recuperate the next with a light crop. Unlike the old furte variety these trees will not kill themselves by continued over production. This alternation of production is usually a simple one of very heavy crops every other year. To the degree that the Hass overbears one year it will under bear the next. Occasionally trees will bear a terrific crop and will not even bloom the next year.
The Hass bloom is usually moderate in amount and comes later than the Fuerte with shorter duration. Unlike the Fuerte a healthy Hass tree limits the crop by the amount of the bloom. The flowers seem to all set and after a normal thinning retain a good crop commensurate with the amount of bloom.
GRAFTED HASS AVOCADOS SEASONS
The Hass has the longest season of any known avocado and has been demonstrated to be edible throughout most of the year. As a back-yard tree, its season is probably from March to November but commercially from May to October at in Kenya. At present, it fills the gap between the Fuerte and the other varieties bringing high prices at this time. When it is in greater supply its commercial limits will have to be determined.
GRAFTED AVOCADO MARKET
From the market standpoint, the Hass would appear to have everything. Excellent quality, popular size, small seed, good shipper, its leathery skin and long season complimenting the Fuerte. The Hass variety gives satisfaction and repeat business follows. This variety has been put to the top by Kakuzi farmers and has numbered among its members the pioneer growers of this variety and have had more experience with marketing it to date. The report says that it has consistently returned more than any other avocado. Its small size is very popular and as it comes on the market early it beats competition to a great extent.
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1) WHEN TO IRRIGATE
The most efficient way to water is to apply water when it begins to show signs of stress from lack of water. It’s paramount to avoid water stress unless it’s by design to induce it; lest one may incur massive crop loss on both quantity and quality. The following signs are indications of water stress;
• Footprints or tire tracks that remain in the grass long after being made
• Many leaf blades folded in half.
• If a soil sample sought from a profile 1-2ft deep is not pliable and sheds into soil droplets upon dropping to the ground.
• Premature fruit drop and/or flaccid fruits on trees.
2) EFFICIENCY OF WATER APPLICATION
• An efficient watering does not saturate the soil, and does not allow water to run off.
• Avoid extremes in watering frequency and amount. If you apply too much water, it runs off and is wasted.
• On the other hand, light frequent watering is inefficient and encourages shallow/restricted root systems.
• Typically, 2-3 irrigation rounds per week in the peak irrigation periods is ideal. If rainfall occurs, irrigation should be suspended depending on the rainfall amounts.
3) TIMING OF IRRIGATION
• The best time to irrigate is in the early morning hours and /or late evening. Watering during the day can be wasteful due to evaporation.
• Avocados require 8000-9000m3 per Ha for the whole year, including water supply from rain.
• The avocado trees have varied moisture requirement in amount depending on the prevailing physiological stage.
• Aspects/stages directly influenced by optimal water regime on avocados include; Flowering, fruit set, fruit drop fruit sizing and fruit quality.
• In central region, 50-60m3 suffices to supply adequate moisture to 1Ha of avocados in a 2 week cycle of irrigation in dry periods.
• In a week, 50-75 litres being applied per tree will supply adequate moisture to support the tree during peak demands.
Below is a guideline on irrigation calendar for the small-holder farmer:
PERIOD PLANT PHYSIOLOGY IRRIGATION STATUS WATER VOLUMES AND ROUNDS COMMENT
DEC – MAR Fruit set and rapid expansion Irrigate fully until rain starts 25-35 liters per tree twice every week There must be no stress on trees
APR – MAY Fruit development Do not irrigate Rainy season
JUN – AUG Harvest Partially irrigate 5-10 liters per tree once a week Maintenance only
Sept-mid Oct Dormant period Do not irrigate Stress prior to flowering
Mid Oct-rains(Nov) Flowering and fruit set Irrigate fully 25-35 liters per tree twice every week There must be no stress on trees
4) IRRIGATION METHOD OPTIONS FOR SMALL-HOLDER FARMER
a) DRIP IRRIGATION
• Install a drip line in the orchard to be served by a tank through gravity. Ensure the tank is raised and/or installed on higher ground.
• 2 drip lines to serve a row of trees.
• The tank can be filled with water by manually pouring using jericans or through pumping.
b) MANUAL IRRIGATION
• Entails manually transporting water in 5, 10,15 or so liter containers sprinkling around the root zone.
• Care should be taken to avoid excessive water application that can lead to run-off.
• Water can also be applied using watering cans and these give a better distribution.
• This is important operation that helps retain moisture around the root zone.
• It’s important to maintain mulch around the tree always.