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keep bees if you want 100% production in Avocados

When you think of what bees produce, you probably think of honey. But bees also indirectly produce one-third of the common fruits and vegetables we eat, via pollination. Getting good crops of avocados in Kenya is not always easy, and pollination is part of the problem. Avocado growers find it hard to provide a regular supply of fruit because the trees only give a good crop every second year. However, if we all kept bees, avocado production can increase tremendously, below is an explanation on why bees are necessary.

While other fruits have simple ways of flowering and self pollination, avocados are different. Each avocado tree can be covered by almost hundreds of thousands of tiny flowers. Flowering process is complex and generally occurs over a two-day period. Under normal climatic conditions, the flower first opens in the female stage, when the stigma (the female part of the flower) is receptive. The flower closes overnight and on the second day the male stage occurs when the pollen is shed. Overlap between male and female phases may also occur under certain climatic conditions. Due to the difference in timing of the female and male stages, therefore, a means of transferring pollen from an individual flower to another flower (within the same tree or adjacent trees) is required. The avocado flower, therefore, requires a vector to effect pollination, which is a necessary first step in the process of fruit set. A vector is an external agent that is capable of causing the transfer of pollen grains from the anthers (the pollen bearing male part of the flower) to the stigma. Numerous pollen grains need to be deposited onto the individual stigmas for the avocado tree to have the potential for a good crop. The avocado flower is adapted to visitation by most flying insects as is evident by its open morphology and the easy access to the nectar. Therefore, flies, wasps, honey bees, stingless bees, bumblebees and other insects are potential pollinators of the avocado flower. To date, the honey bee has been the only commercially introduced pollinator in avocado orchards.

Why You Should Buy Your Seedling From Certified Nursery Operators

Why you Should Plant Different Cultivars (Hass and Fuerte avocados)

Avocados flowers are pollinated by insects, so growers bring honey bee hives into the orchard in the flowering season. Most avocado orchards have two different cultivars so that, when some trees have flowers at the female stage, other trees have male flowers. This means the bees need to collect pollen from male flowers of one cultivar (called the polleniser) and transfer it to females of another cultivar.

Avocado trees may have hundreds of thousands of flowers, but for some reason, not many of them produce fruit.

Preparation of Bees

For a hive to be able to adequately pollinate fruit blossom, it must be above certain strength in bee numbers. It is fundamentally difficult to build a population of honey bees during cool conditions, particularly if there are no naturally occurring sources of pollen and nectar. Thus to have healthy bees early in the season, for avocados pollination, the preparation and management of bees should be a major priority between march and June.

Attractiveness, Nutritional Value Of Pollen And Nectar

Honey bees visit both female- and male-stage avocado flowers. Usually, they collect nectar from both flower stages and pollen from the male stage. However, they sometimes collect pollen only and will not visit the female flowers. The attractiveness of the avocado flower to honey bees is low, in comparison to the flowers of numerous species that may be in bloom simultaneously, such as various citrus species and species. In many cases, foraging honey bees from hives that were placed in the orchard for pollination
purposes abandon the avocado flowers in favor of competing bloom. It is quite evident, therefore, that the avocado flowers are not as well adapted to supply the honey bees? needs, when compared to the flowers of many other species.

Not Just for Money; Why you Must Plant an Avocado Tree

Availability Of Bees For Pollination

Avocado blossom coincides with a number of nectar-producing flowering eucalyptus species that have the potential to provide alternative economic gains for the beekeeper in the form of honey crops.

Any serious avocado farmer who wants to make good money must  keep bees. The bees not only help in increasing production, sweetness and size of fruits but also produce pure organic honey every three months.

 

 

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Ultimate guide for beans farming in Kenya

Beans farming in Kenya is not as common as maize. However, it is one of the common grown crops in Kenya. In fact, it is often inter-cropped with the main crop for maximum absorption of nutrients by both plants. Our guide will help interested parties, both farmers and traders to have a clear mind on beans farming and how they can get money as far as beans are concerned.

Varieties of beans grown in Kenya

Beans popularity in Kenya may be due to the fact that bean recipes are numerous and beans are consumed almost with everything and contain quite a considerable amount of protein. Before venturing into beans farming, it is advisable to look at the different varieties available. If a farmer knows the different types of beans he will be able to choose the best based on its performance. Below are the several varieties;

  • Rosecoco beans Kenya
  • Mwezi moja beans
  • Chelalang beans
  • Mwitemania beans

Do your research well as a farmer and identify which variety does well in your area and guarantees high yields.

Yield per Acre of Beans

The hybrid varieties nowadays are very impressive and has a high yield compared to the traditional varieties. Most of the improved varieties produce about 20 pods for each plant, which translate to about 25, 90 kg bags per acre. Notably, this crop is high yielding when all the conditions are optimal.

Dry beans market

Beans are source of proteins which makes Kenya depend highly on them. The market for beans is overwhelming, both locally and international. Depending on quality and type of beans, the prices per 90 kg bag of beans ranges between Ksh 7,000 and Ksh 12,000. Particularly, beans fetch better prices when it is not harvesting period. Some varieties are also more expensive than others. The rose coco and kidney beans, for instance, are a bit pricey compared to the other varieties which are available in large quantities. Beans with a high supply across the country will fetch a lower price compared to those that thrive in specific areas. Irrespective of the type of beans, the market for beans is always there and since it’s a grain, you can store it and sell when the prices are high.

Price of beans in Kenya

Just like any other agricultural product, prices for beans fluctuate depending on a number of factors including demand and supply. The crop will tend to be expensive when they are in high demand, which is often around planting time when farmers need seeds for planting, and also during periods with no new crops. The cost may also depend on the region you are in and when you are buying or selling. So different areas in Kenya register varying prices of beans. Averagely, beans prices in Kenya range from Kshs. 7,000 to Kshs. 12,000 in major towns of

Kenya from low to high seasons. The best thing to do when scouting for better rates is to check the indices often provided by trading companies and the government on the prices of beans in major towns including Eldoret, Nakuru, Kisumu, Nairobi, and Mombasa. It is not suprising that each town could register a different price for the same variety of beans. This is because different factors play out when determining the prices.

Beans production

It is always good to have a projection before embarking on planting the crop. This is where you consider farming as a business and have a clear business plan. You will need to have a structured plan on what to expect through the farming period and how to counter different eventualities. Your projections against the real data will give a vivid picture of whether or not to proceed with the venture. Apart from this, knowing exactly what to do is necessary. Below are some tips that might help you with your business plaa;

  • Know the appropriate beans planting season in Kenya
  • Choose the best beans varieties in your area
  • Consider ideal ecological requirements – This includes temperatures of about 20 to 25 degrees, altitude of between 1,000 m to 2,100 m above sea level, rainfall of between 900 mm to 1,200 mm per year and a soil pH of 6.5 to 7.5

Although the market for beans is always there and appealing, beans farming is not an easy task especially if you are to do it commercially. However, it is always possible to register good yields if you do it right and follow the above steps. You also need to have achievable goals.

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Facts about Moringa (Oleifera)

Moringa  also known as drumstick, Ben oil tree, horseradish or the miracle tree etc. is a fast growing, drought resistance tree, native to tropical and subtropical regions of Asia. It’s widely cultivated for its young seed pods and leaves used as vegetables and for traditional herbal medicine. It’s also used for water purification.

Key Nutrients of Moringa;

  1. Proteins
  2. Iron
  3. Magnesium
  4. Vitamin C
  5. Riboflavin (B2)
  6. Vitamin B6
  7. Vitamin A etc.

Facts about Moringa

Oleifera pods
  • It contains 30 times more magnesium than eggs
  • It contains 17 times more calcium than milk
  • It contains 15 times potassium than bananas
  • It contains 12 times vitamins C than oranges
  • It contains 10 times vitamin A than carrots

Edible parts of the plant

They include;

  1. Leaves- They are dried and ground into moringa leaf powder. The dried leaf powder can be added to dishes, drinks and soups to increase the nutritional value of a meal.
  2. Pods
  3. Roots
  4. Bark
  5. Flowers
  6. Seeds
  7. Fruits

Health Benefits of Moringa.

  1. Rich source of vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Has vitamin A, C and E, Calcium, Potassium and Protein.
  2. Anti Cancer agent. Fights free radicals; leaves extracts have higher antioxidant activity, free radical scavenging capacity and higher inhibition of lipid, protein and DNA oxidation.It also contains antioxidants called flavonoids, polyphenols and ascorbic acid in the leaves, flowers and seeds. It reduces cancer cell growth and promotes cell death in several cancers.
  3. Contains anti-aging and anti-inflammatory properties.Inflammation can lead to chronic diseases like diabetes, respiratory problems, cardiovascular disease, arthritis and obesity. It reduces inflammation by suppressing inflammatory enzymes and proteins in the body. Lowers inflammation in the cells.
  1. Helps reduce some diabetes symptoms. It’s effective at reducing lipid and glucose levels and regulating oxidative stress in diabetic patients.
  2. Protects the cardiovascular system. It prevents plaque formation in the arteries and reduces cholesterol levels.
  3. Supports brain health. Supports brain health and cognitive function because of its antioxidant and neuro enhancer activities. Its high content of vitamin E and C fights oxidation that’s leads to neuron degeneration improving brain function
  4. Protects the liver. Has high concentration of polyphenols and thus protects liver against oxidation, toxicity and damage. Can reduce liver damage, fibrosis and reverse oxidation in the liver. Moringa oil can restore liver enzymes to normal levels, reducing oxidative stress and increases protein content in the liver.
  5. Contains antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. It’s effective against types of fungi that cause infections on skin and strains of bacteria that are responsible for blood and urinary tract infections and digestive problems.
  6. Enhances wound healing. Has blood clotting properties
  7. Could protect against arsenic toxicity.

How to use Moringa;

Add moringa powder to your smoothie or drink it as a tea.

-has mild flavor.

-Stay clear of seed extract consumption, as they have shown a level of toxicity in immune cells.

-Has laxative effects if taken in large quantities.

-it should be ½ to 1 teaspoonful per day.

 

For more information about Moringa and other tree fruits feel free to contact us.

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How is The Future of Agriculture and Agribusiness

Agribusiness in Kenya

The importance of agriculture to the Kenyan economy cannot be underestimated. It is well documented that agriculture is key to economic growth and contributes to socio-economic development of the country. The sector accounts for around 25 percent of the country’s GDP and contributes over 70 percent of the national export earnings.

Agribusiness sector is undergoing sort of a technology revolution period. Many  people are working towards streamlining the process for agricultural business. We need to cap the losses this industry suffers due to poor management and illicit commission agents. Because the future of the Kenyan Agribusiness sector depends on farmers and traders. Seeing as how farmers are ending their lives or succumbing to debts, we need solutions which will ensure the future of the sector. Its worrying seeing our counterparts from north lift always complaining about maize prices. Although we have been telling them to diversify, they need to feel that their land will continue giving them value.

The Future of Farming is  Agribusiness and farming Smart

The area of land available for agriculture in Kenya and the entire world has decreased. If Kenya for example wants to expand or maintain its current food output it needs to increase its productivity – without imposing an additional burden on the environment. More with less, welcome to the world of Smart Farming

What is Smart Farming?

Smart Farming is a farming management concept using modern technology to increase the quantity and quality of agricultural products. Farmers in the 21st century have access to GPS, soil scanning, data management, and Internet of Things technologies. By precisely measuring variations within a field and adapting the strategy accordingly, farmers can greatly increase the effectiveness of pesticides and fertilizers, and use them more selectively. Similarly, using Smart Farming techniques, farmers can better monitor the needs of individual animals and adjust their nutrition correspondingly, thereby preventing disease and enhancing herd health.

Goat Farming in Kenya: how to start & make money

What are the requirements for Smart Farming?

Knowledge and capital are essential for any innovation. New farming technologies require more and more professional skills. A farmer today is not only a person with a passion for agriculture, he or she is also a teacher, a doctor, a politician, a lawyer (to find their way through a growing maze of regulations) and a part-time accountant (making a living from selling agricultural produce requires bookkeeping skills and an in-depth knowledge of market chains and price volatility).

Furthermore, Smart Farming requires capital. Thankfully, there are a wide range of options available. From using low capital investment smart phone applications that track your livestock to a capital-intensive automated combine. In principle, implementing Smart Farming technologies can be easily up scaled.

Blogs and companies such as Oxfarm provides farmers with information and helpful insights that farmers can rely on.

 

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Want To Become A Serious Farmer? Do These Things!

Conduct Market Survey

Most farmers rush into farming without validating the market capability of their particular crop. Growing any type of crop without a particular market in mind is suicidal. Funny enough most farmers do that.

Her in Kenya, farmers are worse, they have become a “me too” farmer. They certify what to grow by looking at their neighbors.  due to this kind of behavior, the market becomes saturated with similar goods.

the aftermath, is that competition starts to happen forcing the forces of economy to take place, that is the supply is more forcing the prices to come down.

No farmer want such a scenario. however, that’s what you will get if you fail to look for a market upfront. You’ll pay for the mistake by squeezing your margins dry. for you to be outstanding, start by approaching all probable market outlets about what you intend to grow and then choose an idea based on your results.

By so doing you will be able to know that what you intend to grow is what the market really needs.

What Is The Future Of Organic Farming

Make Sure you Go for the right crop

For you to optimize farm profitability, choose the right crop. In any market, the end users will demand for more than one commodity. As a farmer in such circumstances, you have a decision to make. Our stand therefore would be, choose the crop that has a higher market value.

This is so because the cost of production is almost same across many crops. For instance if you want to grow Macadamia, Hass avocado, Oranges or Mangoes, you will require land, same land preparation and same operation cost.

The difference among all these fruits is the market value. In our case it favors hass avocado in which case you should go for tomatoes.

Make Sure you plan well in Advance

They say if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. ignore planning at your own peril. No one can guarantee your success in farming but if you plan well you increase your chances of becoming successful.

Most farmers ignore this important factor and by so doing most of their ideas never see the light of the day. If you know and adhere to this, you have an advantage over the rest of the folks.

When you clearly take your time to write a detailed farm plan, you will definitely save yourself a lot of time and frustration trying to figure out what to do next.

Any farmer can’t afford the luxury of time. Given the perishable nature of most horticultural produce, you will have a problem if you lack a plan of action.

​​Diversify your ventures

Did you know that most successful people in Africa are also farmers. Not just farmers but in many avenues, for example, President Uhuru is a dairy farmer, a coffee farmer, cotton farmer, sisal farmer e.t.c,. Don’t just plant maize, diversify with other more profitable crops such as Macadamia, Avocados and dairy.

There are some other instances where specialization is paramount, but if you want farm profitability badly, you can’t afford to specialize.

For instance if you are growing tree-tomato fruits, you could also intercrop them with other vegetables such as kales, spinach, pilipili hoho e.t.c,..

These intercropped short term crops will enable you to earn some income before your main crop.

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

​​Be Patient and Stick to the Plan

Although farming is a good way of earning some income and having control, it’s not magic that you plant today and all over a sudden you become a millionaire.

I will tell you farming is not for fainthearted, its challenging and requires patience and resilience.

In farming there are several uncertainties, such as crop failures and market fluctuations. One year may produce a bountiful harvest, while another may bring total devastation and little or no income.

This is all part of the business of agriculture. Now, when you face such situation, the last thing you need to do is switch plans.

While some challenges might require a change of plans, it’s better to stick to your plan and learn from your mistakes. It’s all part of the process that eventually leads to farm profitability.

Ensure You Keep Clear And Traceable Records

Ensure your records are up-to date and accurate. Pay attention to details. Know where your money is generated and spent. Storing receipts in a shoe box and waiting to post figures at the end of the year is not a recommended record keeping system.

Good records will help you to evaluate your cash flow as well as project the profitability of your venture.

Having said all that, success in farming depends solely on you. what we have told you combined with what you know can give you massive profits, work towards your destiny.

 

 

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How To Make Your Own Success Story In Farming

Hass Avocado farming

Each and every farmer in Kenya has a dream and especially the small-scale farms which are the backbone of Kenyan economy. Here in Kenya, you must develop and answer some few questions honestly before you start your success journey. Follow the following tips and you might just be one of the most successful farmer in Kenya.

Value Your Customers

In any business, customers are the most valuable resource. Know what your customer needs and wants. Truly care about the customer’s health, well-being and satisfaction. Everyone deserves fair and honest treatment. Today’s trends focus on healthy, local and good tasting food. Provide the customers with high value products, service and experiences. A high quality product brings the customer back.

oxfarm.co.ke/tree-fruits/tree-tomato-farming/importance-of-value-addition/

Be Resourceful

You need to think out of the box and use what you already have. You do not have to be large or have all new equipment. Identify what you might have as assets like your location, soil and farm buildings. Also, inventory your skills, ability and passion. Your farming venture needs to make economical sense. It needs to make a profit for you  and it needs to be a value for your customer. This requires a well thought-out business plan.

Believe in Diversification

Some people argue that it is not wise to put all your eggs in one basket and we believe so. The world and eating trends are changing day in day out. Demand and supply can cause feast and famine. Multiple income sources can guard against weather issues, changing trends and challenging competition.

Dream your dreams

This is very important. Farming is not as easy as people think, you have to be patient and consistent. Formulate a vision and develop goals. Put a plan in place and evaluate your progress. Make adjustments as needed

 

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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.

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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 Can Kenya Boost Agricultural Productivity?

How to boost productivity

Many countries have successfully developed after shifting resources from agriculture to manufacturing. Countries in East Asia and the Pacific witnessed a revolution in the 90’s but Kenya and Africa in general missed out and has overtime lacked progress in agricultural productivity which can be blamed for holding back the region’s overall economic growth.

So what can be done to boost Kenyan agricultural productivity? below are eight factors that are drawn from transforming Kenya’s agriculture to improve competitiveness.

Grow High-yield Crops

Kenya requires increased research into plant breeding, taking into consideration the unique Kenyan soils. If money is put in good use in this segment, according to world bank, 1ksh is capable of yielding Ksh 6 in terms of benefits.

Improve Irrigation

With the growing effects of climate change on weather patterns, more irrigation will be needed. Average yields in irrigated farms are 90% higher than those of nearby rain-fed farms.

Increase the use of Organic fertilizers

As soil fertility deteriorates, organic fertilizer use must increase. Governments need to ensure the right type of fertilizers are available at the right price, and at the right times. Fertilizer education lessens the environmental impact and an analysis of such training programs in East Africa found they boosted average incomes by 61%.

Enhance Regulations, Market Access and Governance

Improving rural infrastructure such as roads is crucial to raising productivity through reductions in shipping costs and the loss of perishable produce. Meanwhile, providing better incentives to farmers, including reductions in food subsidies, could raise agricultural output by nearly 5%. In recent times Kenyan government has had a tussle with maize farmers where the government insisted on buying a 90 Kg bag of maize at Ksh 2300 but the farmers wanted more. Eventually the government increased the amount up to Ksh 2500. Such fights with farmers will only deteriorate and make things worse as farmers will get tired of farming if the market is harsh for them.

State of Hass Avocado Farming in Kenya

Use of IT

Information technology can support better crop, fertilizer and pesticide selection. It also improves land and water management, provides access to weather information, and connects farmers to sources of credit. Simply giving farmers information about crop prices in different markets has increased their bargaining power.

Reform land ownership

Africa has the highest area of arable uncultivated land in the world (202 million hectares) yet most farms occupy less than 2 hectares. This results from poor land governance and ownership. Land reform has had mixed results on the African continent but changes that clearly define property rights, ensure the security of land tenure, and enable land to be used as collateral will be necessary if many African nations are to realize potential productivity gains. In Pastoralists counties such as Kajiado and Narok, land is owned by communities but recently some individuals have been grabbing it and making it theirs with no development. government should come up with policies that can help the common man.

Significance of Hass Avocado Farming in Kenya

Intensify integration into Agricultural Value Chains

Driven partly by the growth of international supermarket chains, Kenyan economy has progressively diversified from traditional cash crops into fruits, vegetables, fish, and flowers. However, lack of access to finance and poor infrastructure have slowed progress. Government support, crucial to coordinate the integration of smallholder farmers into larger cooperatives and groups, may be needed in other areas that aid integration with wider markets.

If the government, NGO’s, all agriculture stakeholders come together and do the above, we might reap as a country and as a continent. At Oxfarm we have been educating the public on the best farming methods and how to access the market, we expect the government to provide a fair and a good working environment for farmers.