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Is Agribusiness the way to go in Kenya?

When most people think of agriculture in Kenya, images of poor and overworked farmers with crude tools on a rural farm readily come to mind. Many, especially young Kenyans, still think that agribusiness is a poor man’s occupation. Nowadays everybody wants a white-collar office job in the Nairobi. Agribusiness is hardly on anyone’s mind. Here is Oxfarm’s insight on this story!

Did you know that Kenya sits on an agribusiness goldmine but most people just don’t see it? If you’re one of the blind, allow Oxfarm Ag to open your eyes with a few exciting facts you need to know about agribusiness in Kenya and Africa in large.

Did you know that Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, recently invested $1 billion in rice production? Every year, Africa spends billions of dollars on rice imports, and Dangote surely wants a juicy slice of the market. Didi you know that President Uhuru and his Deputy are also farmers?

Did you know that since 2009, investors in the USA, Europe, Middle East and Asia have been buying and leasing millions of hectares of Kenyan land for agricultural purposes? Many people may not know it but there’s a trend of serious land grabbing by foreign interests for Kenyan land.

Did you know that Foreign Direct Investment in African agribusiness was around $20 billion in 2017 and is projected to reach $45 billion by 2020? Agriculture is taking a huge leap in Kenya and investors want a piece of the action too.

Did you know that Kenya’s agribusiness industry will be worth Ksh 1 trillion by 2030! That’s huge! If this projection by the UN comes true, agribusiness will become the ‘new oil’ in Kenya!

In the light of all these facts, how come the rich and wealthy folks are investing in Kenya’s agribusiness industry while the majority of Kenyans are largely ignorant about the amazing potentials of agriculture on the country?

Below are five reasons why agriculture is the biggest business opportunity right now in Kenya. We will tell you why many of the world’s top business people are investing in agribusiness.

Best Agribusiness For the Youth to Engage in Kenya

Kenya Has Abundant And Cheap Agricultural Land

According to the World Bank, Sub-Saharan Africa is home to nearly 50 percent of the world’s fertile, usable and uncultivated agricultural land. The size: over 200 million hectares! This is why the continent is now widely considered to be the future breadbasket of the world. It is this huge abundance of land resources that gives Kenya the strategic potential to grow crops!

Most of Kenya’s agricultural land lies in the tropical belt, which receives a favorable amount of rainfall and sunlight all year round. As a direct consequence, more than 80 percent of food crops consumed across the world can be produced here.

Interestingly, a large proportion of Kenya’s agricultural land is located in the rural areas. That’s why they’re often cheap to buy or lease. On the average, one hectare of land (10,000sqm) can be leased for as low as Ksh10, 000 per year (depending on the location). This makes it one of the best land bargains you can find anywhere in the world!

Existence of Ready Market

Agribusiness is one of the best business opportunities in the world because food never goes out of fashion. People must eat food everyday!

Currently, Kenya’s population is just over 45 million people. At its current growth rate, the country’s population is expected to reach 70 million by 2050. Now and in the future, Kenya will always have a lot of mouths to feed.

Kenya currently spends billions of dollars every year to import maize, sugar, rice,  and all kinds of finished and semi-finished foods which it can produce locally. There is a huge opportunity for entrepreneurs who can provide cheaper and locally-grown alternatives to the food that Kenya imports.

It’s not just the food industry that depends on agribusiness. Several other industries, especially the manufacturing and processing industries, depend on agribusiness for a wide range of raw materials. As Kenya’s economies continue to grow, the demand for raw materials will surely increase and create more interesting opportunities for agribusiness on the continent.

Technology Change and Improved Varieties

Agribusiness in Kenya has suffered through the years because of its poor yields and crude farm practices. Most of the crops cultivated on the country produce very little and are often very prone to pests, diseases and drought. As a result, most Kenyan farmers used to work very hard but have very little to show for all their hard work during harvest time.

However, due to advances in crop/animal science and technology, it is now possible to harvest more food per hectare than ever before in Kenya’s history. There are now improved crop and animal varieties that mature earlier, require less resources, and are less susceptible to pest attacks, diseases and drought. Across Kenya, these improved varieties are increasing yields by as much as 400 percent!

There are now improved and locally-adapted varieties of maize, cassava, millet, rice, sorghum, beans, sweet potato, cowpea, hass avocado, banana, and wheat.

There are also several local and international organization that are focused on supporting Kenyan farmers with improved seedlings and support.

Agribusiness Is Very  Easy to Start

Whether you own one plot of land or 10,000 hectares, agribusiness is one of few business opportunities that allow you to start on any scale, with whatever you have!

Entrepreneurs like Dickson Kahuro started his agribusiness in 2014 in his backyard with just few tree tomato trees. Today, he owns Oxfarm and is a major supplier of hass avocado  and other seedlings.

The opportunity to start small means that people with little capital can become part of Kenya’s multi-billion dollar agribusiness industry. Because of the guaranteed demand for agricultural produce, that small vegetable or poultry farm in your backyard could just become a huge business tomorrow.

Every evidence shows that you don’t have to be a wealthy investor with millions of dollars in the bank or a highly-educated person in order to start a business in agriculture in Kenya. You can start where you are and use what you have, and grow from there. You can start your agribusiness journey in your home backyard or do it on a part-time basis with your day job. It’s very flexible that way!

Here Are The Things To Consider When Establishing Drip Irrigation In Your Farm

Agribusiness Is A Huge Job Creator

Agribusiness is one of the most effective ways to create jobs and empower millions of Kenyans. At present, up to 60% of the labour force in Kenya is employed in the agribusiness industry. Agribusiness remains a top employer of labour in many Kenyan countries.

The value chain in the agribusiness industry, from food production, processing and marketing provide huge opportunities for employment and entrepreneurship.

So, if you’re looking to start a business or invest in an industry that makes a significant social impact, provides jobs and creates sustainable wealth, agribusiness is surely the way to go!

Interested in Kenyan Agribusiness?

If you’re excited about the potentials of agribusiness in Kenya and would like to explore it much further, we have just the right resource for you! Just head over to our website and you will learn about several ideas, opportunities and success stories that will surely amaze you.

Kenya is changing. You ought to have this big dream that’s finally changing the world.

 

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Inter-cropping and Mulching in Tissue Culture Banana Farming

You can plant short-term crops, annual crops, legumes such as beans, and groundnuts or you can plant vegetables. This is what is referred to as inter-cropping and the crop you plant is referred to as an inter-crop. These can be planted at the same time with the bananas or within days.

Always consider the Spacing

As you plant these crops, make sure the cover crop is not too close to the planting hole where tissue culture banana seedling is. Leave about a foot especially for beans, which can grow from the hole in which it was planted, entangle and suffocate the young banana seedling.

If you want to have longer term intercrops, such as coffee or pineapples, these can be planted either before or after the planting of the tissue culture garden. Whereas it is fine to intercrop bananas with a perennial crop such as coffee or pineapples or cocoa, in case you want to do this, the spacing will need to be increased accordingly from the standard (2.5m-3m).

The spacing must be increased from 3m to between 3.5m-4.5m to allow more light penetration to reach the perennial intercrop (say coffee, cocoa or pineapples) when they have established.
If the distance between different stools is too small or standard (2.5m-3m), when the bananas grow, their leaves will shade off the intercrop and it will suffer from lack of sufficient light to manufacture its own food, and to grow healthy and give good yield.

Quality hass avocado seedlings and best packages

Excellent care

Whereas it is fine to intercrop with a perennial crop, you need to do this only if your primary enterprise is the intercrop rather than bananas.

In case your primary or focus enterprise is bananas, it is advisable that inter-cropping be done  with only short-term crops, and this can be done for two seasons, after which the banana canopy (leaves) will have closed up. After the first year, your efforts should shift to mulching the plantation for better soil nutrition and health.

Like animals, bananas need excellent care if they are to give you good returns—thus, you will need to invest in mulching your plantation—I mean thorough mulching.

Need nutrients

Mulching has several purposes: controls weed growth, protects the soil against heavy rainfall and intensive sunshine, prevents erosion in plantations on steep slopes, provides organic matter to the soil, stimulates root development, improves soil drainage, cools the soil, increases soil porosity (water and air penetration), and supports abundance of beneficial soil organisms such as earth worms and some useful fungi and bacteria, thereby improving overall soil health.

Bananas are heavy feeders and need a lot soil nutrients and water if they are to yield well. Thus, mulching helps in providing these soil nutrient and water requirements.

Due to high cost of buying and transporting mulching materials, it is important to use grass cleared during field preparation; use materials obtained from the intercrop; materials obtained from the plantation itself such as leaves, pseudo stem, corms; use organic matter near the plantation such as chicken droppings, pig and cow dung if you keep some animals.

Also, you can grow grasses such as elephant grass, Guatemala grass, and Kikuyu grass for your own mulch. The grass can both feed your animals as well as provide mulch for your plantation.

Not too close

Irrespective of the good roles of mulching, it is known to facilitate multiplication of pests and spread of some soil born diseases of bananas. It also encourages roots to grow upwards from the soil, resulting in hanging mats, which eventually can topple especially during stormy rains.

The phenomenon of banana plants becoming shallow rooted and hanging near the surface of the ground is called ‘high mats’. The moment it sets in, that marks the end of your enterprise as weevils will attack it too. Thus, never mulch too close to the plant itself when it has already fully established.

A young tissue culture seedling needs mulch around it, but an established banana mat does not, as its roots are already well established. Thus, always keep the mulch, and manure application away from the banana mat by about 2-3ft. The roots of the banana are long and can search for nutrients from a distance, thus do not worry that your plants will not get the nutrients.

Frequently Asked questions about Hass Avocado Farming in Kenya

Pros and Cons of Inter-cropping

Advantages of inter-cropping

  1. The enterprise starts giving early returns before the bananas start yielding and start giving returns.
    2. Weed control in a newly established plantation is easier as you kill two birds with one stone, that is weed the beans and the banana plantation too.
    3. The soil is protected against soil erosion, cover crop is used.
    4. If a legume such as beans is used, it adds nitrogen to the soil making it more fertile.
    5. If crop residues from the inter-cropping are used to mulch the crop, it improves soil nutrients and adds organic matter.

Disadvantages of Inter-cropping

  1. Soil nutrient depletion,
  2. Competition with bananas,
  3. May spread diseases and pests
  4. Damaging and injuring banana roots when digging in the garden, among others

It is, therefore, advisable that you do it only for the first year of plantation establishment, unless the inter-crop is your major enterprise.

For tissue culture banana seedlings contact us.

 

TC seedlings
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Sustainable Farming Methods A Substitute For Pesticides

Emerging reports show that Kenyan farmers are over-relying on crop protection products that have continuously hindered soils functions and ecosystems. Instead farmers should adopt better alternative farming practices, according to FAO and ITPS, 2017 report.

Producing more food from the same or less land, while at the same time seeing the available crop protection options diminish due to regulation and resistance remains a key challenge for food producers.

Effective disease control remains central to profitable farming and to minimize the cost / tonne of production through increased yields. Varietal choice and the use of inherent disease resistance should be a primary consideration when deciding on cropping plans. Seed treatments help manage the threat posed by seed or soil-borne pests and diseases, and play an increasingly important role, for example in managing viruses transmitted by aphids.

How to Grow Fruits and Veggies for Export Market

PPPs are pesticide products used to prevent, destroy or control any pest that can cause harm during the production, processing, storage, transport or marketing of food, agricultural commodities, wood and wood products, according to the FAO Report. According to experts, research is needed in addressing the issue of PPPs in Africa as African soils have low levels of organic matter.

According to report, PPPs have become widely used in farming and many other settings such as urban gardens and parks, with their sales projected to increase annually by almost six percent, and reaching US$68.5 billion by 2017. But the report adds that the use of PPP could be reduced through soil-specific measures such as the reduction of runoff by improving soil structure or preserving plant residues and measures such as vegetated buffer strips or constructed wetlands. The report indicate that crop rotations which include phases such as pastures that require little or no PPP application also reduce overall usage.

The report was based on a review conducted by the Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils (ITPS) of scientific papers and reports with a focus on assessments of impacts of plant protection products on soil organisms.

Daniel Pennock, chairman of the ITPS of the FAO, tells indicates that sustainable soil management is of significance but only if the implemented practices reduce the amount of PPPs applied to soils while maintaining plant production levels.

Mkulima Wa Nyeri: “Future Billionaires will be Farmers”

More research required on Crop Protection

African governments, institutions, and policymakers should create initiatives and capacity building programs to help identify research gaps in pesticides use and impacts. For instance, a well-designed scientific research on PPP in representative African soils should be carried out to address pesticide fate in African farming systems.

More importantly, studies on integrated pest management appropriate for African conditions should be supported and completed so that environmentally sound and socially acceptable method of pest control can be developed, which may or may not have a place for PPP.

Research on PPP and integrated pest management are of direct benefit to farmers if crop losses due to pests can be minimized and higher yields of crops are produced.

 

 

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thorn melon farming in Kenya: Farmers smiling all the way to the bank

Thorn melon, commonly known as Kiwano is a strange looking fruit that originated from South Africa and has of late been introduced to other parts of the world. It picked its name  Kiwano from Kiwi in New Zealand  due to its consistency and appearance to kiwi. However, this fruit is not biologically linked to kiwi and is actually closer in nutritive and evolutionary terms to cucumber and zucchini.

The name “thorned melon” comes from the fruit’s unusual appearance, as the outer layer of orange or gold skin is covered in small spikes. The inside of the fruit does have the gelatinous appearance of a kiwi, but the inner layer of fruit pulp is a culinary ingredient. The leaves and roots are also used for various applications, but the fruit is the most highly prized. Its seeds contain high concentrations of beneficial nutrients and organic compounds that make the fruit so healthy.

A number of Kenyans have embraced this fruit as it is believed to lower blood pressure and sugar level. Its therefore a money maker fruit and a number of farmers have benefited from it. According to Mureithi a farmer in Kiambu, kiwano sells between 25 and Ksh 30. He however notes that market fluctuates depending on supply. When there is high demand a kilo of thorn melon goes fo Sh 90 and when the demand is low it goes below to Ksh 70.

Benefits Of Planting Thorn Melon

The healthy benefits are overwhelming as highlighted below. For those interested in making money, this is why you should plant it:

  1. it’s a drought resistant plant and does not require a lot of water
  2. its labor friendly. Even when unattended it will still yield
  3. One plant can yield between 30 to 40 or more depending on care
  4. The market is readily available. One peace goes for between 10 bob to 30 bob depending on where and it’s a hot cake for those who understands the benefits
  5. it can thrive in almost all areas

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How Thorn Melon Is Used Across The World

  • The green jelly-like flesh can be taken with little sugar, or with exotic fruit salad. It can also be utilised like an alternative to vinegar in salads.
  • The fruits are also used for ornamental purposes.
  • Used in beverages and at times spooned over desserts, ice creams and yoghurts to have an exceptional taste.
  • Its leaves are medicinal and are often served cooked as the heat is said to slightly lessen the bitterness in the greens.
  • When cooking, the bitter melon leaves are added last to inhibit an overly bitter taste and can be served with rice. The leaves can also be used in curries, fries and soups.
  • The leaves are at times mixed with maize or corn meal and can also be used to make a medicinal tea. Younger leaves which have a milder flavour and delicate texture can be used in salads.
  • In some countries, the leaves are used as an anti-viral for measles and malaria, diabetes, hypertension and to aid in childbirth.
  • In some cultures, various parts of the bitter melon plant, including the leaves, are used as a contraceptive as they have been shown to have an anti-fertility effect in both males and females.
  • Boiled roots are also used to treat gonorrhoea in some cultures, according to research.

Profitable poultry farming and production in Kenya

Health Benefits of Thorn Melon

Thorn melon has many benefits as discussed below:-

Weight Loss

Considering that this fruit is more than 80% water, it has the ability to fill you up without packing on any pounds. People trying to lose weight without feeling hungry all the time often reach for a kiwano to stave off hunger pangs. The high concentration of nutrients also keeps your body nutrient-rich, even though the fruit is low in calories and fats.

Antioxidant Properties

There are high levels of alpha-tocopherol found in kiwano, which is a potent antioxidant form of vitamin E. This is very important for the health of nerves and blood vessels, while it also seeks out and neutralizes free radicals, the harmful byproducts of cellular metabolism that can cause everything from heart diseases to cancer.

Eye Care

The significant levels of vitamin A found in kiwano make it an important booster for vision health. Vitamin A is a type of carotenoid, which acts as an antioxidant for the eye, eliminating free radicals that can cause macular degeneration, while also slowing down or preventing the development of cataracts.

Improves Cognitive Function

Although different nutrients can positively affect the brain, vitamin E is specifically linked to slowing the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. The high levels of tocopherol variations in kiwano make it a favorite amongst all who want to keep their minds fresh.

Boosts Metabolism

Zinc is a mineral that is often overlooked in human health, but it plays a key role in metabolism and producing protein, which is necessary for wound healing and repair of organs, tissues, blood vessels, and cells. The high content of vitamin C is a perfect complement to the zinc found in kiwano, as ascorbic acid is a key component of collagen, which is another key material in repair and growth.

Slows Aging

Between vitamin A, C, natural antioxidants, and abundant organic compounds, kiwano is wonderful for staying young, both inside and out. It is known to protect the integrity of the skin and reduce age spots and wrinkles, in addition to lessening the appearance of scars and blemishes. These important nutrients keep the body younger by preventing the onset of chronic diseases through their intense antioxidant activity.

Relieves Stress & Anxiety

Research has connected some of the organic compounds in kiwano with the regulation of hormones, particularly adrenaline and other stress hormones. If you suffer from chronic stress or feel anxious, eating some kiwano can quickly ease your mind and get your body back to a calm, relaxed state.

Aids in Digestion

The high fiber content in kiwano makes it an ideal digestive aid. Dietary fiber helps to stimulate peristaltic motion and clear out the gastrointestinal tract, keeping your bowel movements regular and preventing cramping, bloating, constipation, and serious conditions like gastric ulcers or colon cancer. Dietary fiber is also a key element of heart health, as it helps to regulate the level of cholesterol in the body; it even helps to regulate insulin receptors, thereby preventing or managing diabetes.

Increases Bone Strength

Kiwanos are also turned to for their high mineral content, particularly for calcium, in order to boost bone strength and prevent the onset of osteoporosis.  While the other minerals in kiwano, including zinc, are important for bone development, growth, repair, and integrity, calcium is the most desirable mineral for our bone health.

 

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Agri-business in Kenya: Fighting Poverty and Hunger

Kenya is witnessing a quiet revolution which holds out real hope of banishing poverty and hunger and driving economic growth through Agri-business.

This transformation is not in sectors like oil and gas, minerals or tourism, which grab global headlines, but in Agri-Business, which remains the backbone of the continent’s economy.

Agri-Business Is the Major Sector in Kenya

Despite the rapid growth in the services sector, Agri-Business still accounts for more than a third of its GDP. Kenya is urbanizing rapidly, but Agri-Business still employs two-thirds of the workforce. Evidence has shown that growth in Agri-Business is up to 11 times more effective in reducing poverty than growth in any other sector. If we want to end poverty and hunger in Kenya by 2030, Agri-Business needs to be right at the heart of the strategy.

Kenyan Agri-Business and small-scale farmers have too often been forgotten. The result is that Africa, despite the hard work of its farmers, does not grow enough to feed its own people. One in four of the continent’s population is undernourished, a huge barrier to better health and development. There is a direct economic cost, too, with $35bn spent on importing food annually – a figure which could almost triple by 2025 unless Africa increases agricultural productivity.

Related Content: Why Hass Avocado is the new Cash Crop

How to Fight Hunger and Poverty Through Agri-Business

Agri-business is the only way of maximizing profits
A passion fruit Farm in North Rift

First, over the last decade, Agri-Business has received growing attention from governments and investors. For example, through African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) – a forum which Koffi Annan helped launch a decade ago – $30bn worth of political, financial and policy pledges were made; the largest-ever commitment to the continent’s Agri-Business. This was a turning point. Now, Africa is taking steps to turn these pledges into results. At 2016 AGRF in early September, there were signing of many agro-business deals amounting to more than $6bn.

Second, smallholder agri-business farmers are becoming recognized for the small businesses they are. Initiatives like the Farm to Market Alliance, which help smallholder farmers secure long-term buyers for their produce, are gaining momentum. This gives them the confidence to invest and grow their businesses knowing they have a market when they harvest.

Third, Africa is changing the way it works together. New partnerships are emerging, like the recently launched, multimillion-dollar Partnership for Inclusive Agricultural Transformation in Africa (PIATA). It aims to increasing incomes and improve the food security of 30 million smallholder farm households across Africa by 2021. It is the first time Africa has seen some of the largest funders of agricultural development pooling their resources and efforts towards a common goal. This represents a new way of doing business. Though supporting small-scale farmers, Africa can free itself from hunger.

Fourth, with climate change threatening food production as never, Africa is prioritizing efforts to help farmers adapt. By embracing, for example, solutions such as drought and heat-tolerant crops, modern weather information systems, and efficient irrigation systems, farmers can cope with the changing weather conditions.

Fifth, Africa is putting a much bigger emphasis on the quality of its diets, rather than just focusing on quantity. In sub-Saharan Africa, millions lack the nutrients needed for proper health and development. One of the ways we are tackling malnutrition is by making crops more nutritious.

Africa Taking Control Through Agri-Business

These signs of progress rarely make the global headlines, but they are slowly and surely transforming economies and improving lives of millions across the continent. Africa is taking control of its own agricultural transformation. This is essential if the continent is to ensure African farmers and companies enjoy the full benefits of its growing food market, which is projected to be worth $1 trillion by 2030.

In the end, this progress will only continue if Africa focus on Agri-Business as its path to prosperity, monitor its progress and hold itself to account.

We shall reap what we sow. By supporting Kenya’s smallholder farmers, we can build a Kenya free from hunger. We can build an Africa free from poverty. We can build an Africa proud to be economically strong and able to feed itself. That is the bountiful harvest that together we can and must achieve.

For better fruit farming methods and seedlings, call us today or visit our offices.

By Koffi Annan