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Facts about the Hass Avocado

MARKET FACTS

According to statistics, Kenya is the largest exporter of avocado in Africa, producing 200,000 tonnes of avocados per year with exports estimated at 100,000 tonnes. South Africa comes second with annual exports of averagely 50,000 tonnes annually.Although farmers are reaping from the demand in the lucrative international market, they are cautious when dealing with exporters.Farmers say they fear exporters are exploiting them, because they do not know how the fruit is graded and how much each grade fetches in the market.

Unlike other fruits which are usually bright and conspicuous avocado usually become duller (brown) in appearance. The fruit is also to be picked before it ripens. The picking of the fruits from the tree is either done by the farmer or the buyer himself who has the market either local or international. Those who have an international market, need to do a number of practices in order to meet the standards put in place by the market.These practices include;

SELECTION

The avocado is sorted out into different categories based on;

FARMER

This applies where the buyer has purchased fruits from different farmers and this helps to identify fruits with the individual farmer.

SIZE

The avocado fruits are then sorted out into different sizes. The sizes may range from 28 to 84 where 28 are the biggest with the weight of 13.7oz and size 84 is the smallest with the weight of 4.5oz. every size has its price in the market

MARKS AND DISEASES

Since the avocados are being sold on the international market only the best quality fruits are considered for export. Therefore any fruit which has marks caused by diseases, insects, rodents, or mechanical handling are rejected

PRESENCE OF CHEMICALS IN THE FRUITS

The international prefers the organic avocado fruits compared to the fruits produced using chemicals. Therefore during sorting the organic fruits are highly rated and may fetch a fortune while the others produced using chemical fetch low prices or may even be rejected by the market. Therefore it is important for a farmer to grow their fruits organically to avoid this situation of their fruits being rejected when taken to the market for export The fruits are then sprayed with prochloraz or sportak that is used to discourage or prevent the growth of fungus. This helps to control anthracnose disease from fruits. This also helps to keep the insects away from the fruits. This also helps the fruit from over-ripening hence increasing the shelf life of the fruit

PACKAGING OF AVOCADO

After the fruits are sized and sorted they are then packed into (trays and boxes as determined by the importing countries). The packaging technique varies according to the market, being cardboard, plastic, or wood. The most common containers are single-wall corrugated fiberboard or wooden boxes. Smaller fruit is bulk packed into 10kg cartons. Plastic inserts with molded cups are placed in the tray. Single-layer trays weigh around 6kg. Fruit are stamped with small stickers.

COOLING OF AVOCADO

The fruits are taken in a cooling storage room which should be below 4 degrees Celsius. The time that the fruit is kept in the cooling room will depend on the initial temperature of the fruit. The fruits are advisable to be below 2 degrees Celsius when they are removed from the cooling chamber. This cooling helps the fruits to maintain their quality and also controls pests and diseases.

TRANSPORTATION

The means for transport is either water or air. The containers in which the fruits are used for transportation are equipped with cooling systems that enable the fruits to retain their quality and prevent the fruits from diseases.

With just Kshs. 150 for a seedling you are assured that each Hass avocado tree planted will give you produce worth triple the amount you purchased.

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The Kiwi fruit

Kiwi (also known as Actinidia deliciosa) is a small edible berry of a woody vine. It has a fibrous, dull greenish-brown skin and bright green or golden flesh with rows of tiny, black, edible seeds. In Kenya the kiwi fruit is a relatively new idea it is still underdeveloped hence and the demand exceeds supply.

It is a temperate fruit that flourishes in a cool and cold climate. It is hardy and can tolerate both extreme temperatures (extremely hot and cold). In Kenya, it can be grown in Central, Western highlands, and Central Rift valley highlands. It grows on climbing vines that need to be trained on poles with a wire on top to offer support. The vines take about 2 to 4 years to mature and can bear fruit for an average of 12 to 15 and a maximum of 30 years if properly maintained.

It is propagated either from a seed or stem cutting. Planting is done around March to take advantage of the long rains.

The kiwi plant is dioecious, meaning individual plants are either male or female. Only female plants bear fruit, but only when pollinated by a male plant. It takes 1 male plant to pollinate at least 8 females. To differentiate the gender, wait for the plant to bloom then check the flowers. The male has a brightly colored yellow center due to anthers bearing pollen while the female flowers have bright white well-defined ovaries at the base of the flower.

Ecological conditions:

  • Soils

Should be well-drained as the kiwi plant is prone to root rot and have a pH of 5 to 6.5. Kiwi does not require much fertilizer application due to the burning of roots. It has shallow roots, therefore, requires irrigation.

  • Altitude and rainfall

It can grow in a wide range of altitudes from 10000 to 2500m.

  • Temperatures

The optimal temperatures during the growing season are between 14 and 24°C. The plant can tolerate cold but is damaged by temperatures below -8°C.

Diseases

  1. Armillaria root rot

The fungal pathogen survives on diseased wood and roots below ground for many years. The vines once infected are weakened and lead to complete collapse. It is managed by clearing land before planting, removing and burning roots, and ensuring proper irrigation

  1. Bacterial blight

Symptoms appear as brown, sunken lesions on the petals that enclose the floral buds. During bud expansion, the petals exhibit a yellow-orange discoloration that later becomes necrotic.

Small yellow leaf spots may occur along the leaf margins and begin as small, yellow. Later the spots enlarge and merge to form large irregular patches (lesions) of necrotic tissue. It is managed by avoiding injury to plant tissues

Pest

  1. Nematodes

Root-knot nematodes damage the root system if there are relatively high soil populations present. The attacked vines become slightly weaker and fruit size on infected vines is reduced. Nematodes are best controlled before planting because there are no kiwifruit rootstocks that are resistant to it.

The control practices include;

  • Irrigating frequently to avoid plant stress.
  • Remove broadleaf weeds and do not plant cover crops susceptible to root-knot nematode
  • Avoid planting kiwi fruit uninterruptedly where root-knot nematodes are present in the soil.
  • Use of chemicals; nematicides

It is recommended to fumigate broadcast treatments in October or November the year before planting.

Value addition of kiwi fruit

  1. Kiwi jam

Remove the hard node at the top and bottom of the kiwifruit. Cut the fruit into slices and then into and put in a thick-based pan with both a tablespoon of sugar and a teaspoon of lemon juice per kiwi fruit.

Bring to a gentle simmer and cook until the mixture thickens and becomes gloopy.

  • Kiwi juice

Choose a ripe kiwi by pressing it a bit and checking whether it is soft or not. Do not choose ones that are too hard or too soft. Since kiwi is small and relatively expensive it is advisable to mix with other fresh fruit to increase the quantity and make it a healthier juice. Juicing requires fresh fruits.

  • Freezing kiwi

Choose a ripe kiwi fruit, slice, crushed, or as a whole. As kiwi is high in acid add sugar to improve flavor and to keep the fruit firm. Slices may be frozen individually by placing them on a cookie sheet or tray and freezing. When frozen, package in bags. These slices are great for garnishes.

  • Kiwi preserves

Kiwi is high in acid and low in pectin. When making jams and jellies, it is best to use recipes with added pectin. Kiwi can be substituted in your favorite recipes for another high acid, low pectin fruits such as strawberry, cherry, or pineapple

  • Kiwi chutney

Place lime juice, sugar, onion, garlic, ginger, pepper flakes, salt (any other preferred spices) in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, cover and cook.  Select firm ripe kiwi fruit peel, slice and add to the mixture then bring it back to a boil then remove it from heat. Let cool and refrigerate.

This is a nice accompaniment to chicken, fish, or pork.

  • Drying kiwi

Select soft, ripe fruit peel and slice. Place on dryer sheets and dry until supple and leathery. Also one can heat the slices in heavy sugar syrup for a few minutes before drying for added flavor and to destroy the enzyme papain that breaks down protein and can cause mouth irritation.

Nutritional and health benefits:

The fruit is used as food and medicine as it has a whole range of nutrients.

• It contains as much potassium as the banana

• It has more vitamin C than the oranges

• Sweet but with low calories

• Has high fiber content

• Contains 10% of recommended folate. Pregnant ladies are encouraged to consume

• Packed with blood pressure lowering

• In beauty and health, it is an ingredient for DIY masks used for exfoliating, nourishing and anti-aging

  • Kiwellin and kissper are proteins in kiwi fruit that have inflammatory properties
  • It contains vitamin K and traces of calcium and phosphorus that contribute to bone health.

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3 reasons why should farmers venture into the Dragon Fruit?

It’s usually the case where exotic fruits are alluring to consumers in an abundant amount. However, can they be profitable to farmers? Can they bring out higher profits in agriculture, especially in Kenya? Dragon Fruit farming has been seen as an attractive investment opportunity since it’s a high income generating crop that requires very little work once established. Here are the 3 main reasons why farmers should venture into dragon fruit farming;

1) Easy to plant and maintain

Dragon fruit plants grow rapidly reaching their full height of 2-3 meters within three years. The dragon fruit has adapted to survive under harsh conditions, making them ideal for subsistence farming in the tropics where the soil is less fertile and therefore requires little care once established.

They have spines on their leaves which protect them from predators. They are also drought-resistant, but they do need sufficient water at some point during the year if continuously bearing fruits. If there is no irrigation source near your farm then you can plan for rain harvesting structures to cater to this water need. Farmers can easily get an abundant yield from this plant, which is another reason why it is a good investment.

2) Low input and high returns

Many farmers have been able to get a good return from exporting fruit because of the demand in many countries around the world. The fruit has become increasingly popular and is increasing in value in the local and export markets. So far, there is a low supply and a high demand for dragon fruits. This makes it ideal for small-scale investors who might not be able to invest large amounts of capital but want to benefit from agricultural exports. To maximize profits, farmers should process the fruit, using it to add value to various products such as energy bars, ice cream, yogurt, juices, pastries, and jelly.

A single fruit weighs between 600 grams and 1.2kg. A kilo of a dragon fruit retails for between Kshs. 750 and Kshs. 1000 making it one of the most expensive fruits. It’s so expensive because of its supply and demand factors, whereby consumers are willing to pay more just to get it even if they do not know what it tastes like.

3) High nutritional value hence a high demand

The fruit is a mix of crunchy and juicy textures. It contains high levels of vitamin C, antioxidants, phytochemicals, and minerals such as potassium, magnesium, or iron which are important for good health. The fruit also contains fiber that helps the body to absorb essential nutrients from food as well as regulate bowel function. This means that the farmers will benefit from their investment because they can easily sell these fruits without needing any processing expertise, thus creating a higher return on investment.

Recommendation for farmers

The above reasons are the main drivers which make dragon fruit lucrative to local farmers.  Because of its high demand in the market, one can easily get good returns on investment. However, there are some challenges which most farmers face like how to produce quality fruit for export and the best farm practices to apply when growing this crop.

We recommend that you should make use of local dragon fruit seedlings or rooted cuttings instead of using seeds since buying is more economical than getting the plant from an open field where it might have been exposed to diseases like bacterial wilt. Also, research on areas with suitable weather conditions before venturing into cultivation especially in terms of temperature and rainfall patterns.

Make sure you have a market for the produce before going into production since it takes up to 5 months from planting to harvesting. Ensure your farm is protected from birds and pests which can eat ripen fruits. Seek advice from established farmers who harvest regularly or experienced extension officers and know how to deal with any pest or disease that might affect your crop.

Farmers should do proper planning such as demand forecast, site selection and equipment purchase.

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What should I do to become a better fruit farmer?

Should one just purchase fruit tree seedlings and just plant? The answer is no, a good farmer knows what to plant at a particular season. A good farmer also knows why he/she is planting certain fruits and who his/her targets are. A good farmer also knows when to do the planting so that he/she can get the desired yield.

With short rains around the corner, it is crucial to purchase seedlings now so that by the time it is raining the fruit trees are already on the planted.

Why is it important to plant before it starts raining? Fruit tree seedlings always have sensitive root structure. Agronomists always recommended to never take the seedling from a favorable environment to a non-favorable environment.

Did you know planting before the full onset of the rains always comes with more pros than cons?

First, as a farmer you will have easy task in land preparation and also easy task during the planting.

Secondly, this helps you as the farmer to ensure full maximization of the rains from day one till the day when the last drop will be dropping.

Lastly, Planting the fruit trees before onset of rains aids with the proper root establishment in the soil so that in the event the rains happen to come in excess levels, then the plants have higher chances of evading root rot which is a serious disease common in water logged soils.

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Western Region

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Nairobi Region

Visit us at Ridgeways along Kigwa road. 0769623300 or Whatsapp https://wa.me/c/254769623300

Nakuru Region

Visit us at our farm around white house. 0740000044/ 0758944535 or Whatsapp https://wa.me/c/254740000044

Mt Kenya region

Visit Mkulima wa Nyeri farm at Tetu, Githakwa. 0742194880 or Whatsapp https://wa.me/c/254742194880

Eldoret Region

Visit us around rupa mall area, Contacts 0710588060 / 0757800641 or Whatsapp https://wa.me/c/254710588060

Eastern and Coast Region

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For vigorous growth tree tomatoes prefer subtropical climate.

Tree tomatoes prefer subtropical climate. For vigorous growth, they require well-drained fertile soil which is rich in organic matter. The soil must be permeable since the plants are not tolerant to water-logging.

Tree tomatoes grow naturally on soils with a pH of 5 to 8.5 and do not tolerate tightly compacted soil. Although they can be planted under irrigation, rainfall between 600 and 4000 millimeters is suitable. The crop cannot survive in areas with prolonged drought and must have ample water during the dry season. Application of mulch retains moisture in a tree tomato plantation and also reduces weed growth.

Annual temperatures between 15 and 20 °C are ideal for tree tomato production. It is intolerant to frost (below -2 °C) and drought stress. Tree tomatoes grow well in altitude of between 1,500m to 3,000M above sea level.

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Did you know that Mango intake is therapeutic?


The History of Mango Fruit

The history of the mango tree can be traced back to the Bronze Age, or almost 4,000 years ago. Originally, a native of southern Asia, especially eastern India, the mango tree was introduced to Southeast Asian countries by Buddhist monks. Later, it was brought to Africa by the Portuguese, from where the mango tree spread across the world.

The English word ‘mango’ is an adaption of the Malayalam name for the fruit, which is ‘maanga‘. A member of the Anacardiaceae, or the cashew family, the scientific name of mango is Mangifera indica.

What are the medicinal benefits of mango leaves?

Now that you know the health benefits of eating mango, let’s look at some of the medicinal uses of mango leaves:

  • Decreases blood pressure: Extract of mango tree leaves has antihypertensive properties. As a result, having tea made with mango leaves a few times a day helps in decreasing blood pressure.
  • Helps in controlling diabetes: Tender mango leaves which are pink or purple in color are rich in tannins and anthocyanins. Juice of these mango leaves taken on an empty stomach in the morning helps in controlling blood sugar levels.
  • Treats oral problems: Clean a few old/mature mango leaves and boil them in water until the water turns slightly yellow. Add some salt to this water and rinse the mouth with it.
  • Eliminates free radicals: Mango tree leaves contain antioxidants and vitamin C. Consuming mango leaf extract can help eliminate free radicals and protect the body from oxidative damage.
  • Cleanses the stomach: Soak a few mango leaves in warm water and leave them overnight. Consuming this water on an empty stomach in the morning helps in cleansing the stomach and flushing out toxins from the body.

Other health benefits include;

  • Prevents anemia: Mango is rich in iron. Also, the vitamin C present in mango increases the absorption of iron.
  • Improves digestion: Being rich in fiber and polyphenols, mango aids in decreasing constipation and inflammation of the bowels.
  • Helps gain weight: Consuming mango with milk helps in nourishing the body and gaining weight.
  • Boosts immunity: Apart from vitamin C, mango also contains folate, zinc and vitamin B6. All these contribute greatly towards strengthening the immune system
  • Improves eyesight: Presence of an abundance of carotenoids which help in improving eyesight.
  • Keeps heart healthy: Mango is a good source of selenium and B6, both of which promote heart health.

What are the useful parts of the mango tree?

  • Mango bark: Consuming the powder of dried mango bark provides relief from diarrhea.
  • Mango gum: The gum obtained from the bark of the mango tree can be applied on cracked feet and areas affected by scabies.
  • Mango sap: The juice that oozes from the branch after plucking a mango can be applied on bee stings to relieve pain.
  • Mango seed: Obtained from mango seed, mango butter can be applied on the skin to soothe sunburns, remove and prevent stretch marks, heal scars and reduce wrinkles. It can also be used as a hair moisturizer. Mango seed extract has proved helpful in losing weight and decreasing obesity.

Engage and visit us as we share more knowledge on Fruit farming.

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