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Fruit farming In Ukambani saving residents from insufficient rainfall

Fruit farming In Ukambani saving residents from insufficient rainfall

Lower Eastern Kenya region commonly Known as Ukambani have adopted farming of different fruits. Frruit farming has revived the region and has given hopes to many farmers who for years have experienced poor harvesting of other crops.

Most parts of the country especially eastern region for instance experienced below-normal rainfall that was mainly recorded in April and May 2017 according to the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources State Department of Environment Kenya, Meteorological Department.

This ever-hotter weather and more erratic rainfall has made growing many crops more difficult in Kenya’s Ukambani region, but fruits harvest is prospering.

As per the Best Tropical Fruits Company, a Kenyan fruit growing and processing firm, between 2012 and 2016, mango production in Kenya rose by 47 percent, to more than 80,000 tonnes.

This according to the firm has also increased selling price for processed mango by two thirds since 2013, with overall revenue from mango sales hitting 400 million Kenyan shillings ($3.9 million) by the end of 2016.

Ukambani is now producing some of the sweetest mangoes in the world according to one farmer who represents a group of mango growers and also has carried out research on mango farming in Kenya as part of a master’s degree programme.

Poor harvest from maize/beans farming

Growing cereals especially maize and beans which the farmers would plant in April for October harvest, but the crops would not perform well due to inadequate rainfall. The end result has been, very little is produced that could hardly take care of the farmers’ families not to talk of selling.

Eastern people end up miserable on harvest time because they do not have enough produce to take care of their families and to sell. Munuvi one of the farmers, who grows yellow passion today says the passion is speedily raising as the fruit of choice for most farmers in Machakos county.

“I am happy that yellow passion is picking up well giving rise to some farmers’ organizations where we can sell our produce,” says Munuvi,

She is a member of the Yatta Farm Growers Community Based Organisation, which brings together 100 farmers.

Ramesh Gorasia grows date palms on part of his 400-acre farm in Masongaleni, Makueni County. Date palms are related to loquats safe for trees.

“We have 772 mature date palms and 1,200 young ones. Our main specialty is fresh dates, which we grow for sale both locally and abroad,” says Gorasia.

In his farm there are also oranges, tangarines, grapefruits, bananas, mangoes among others.

related Post: Tips on how to get over 20Kgs/Tree from Tree-tomato farming

 Support from County Governments

In June this year, Governor Kivutha Kibwana, Makueni Farmers representatives, and residents of Makueni unveiled the Makueni Fruit Processing Plant at Kalamba.

The Plant has a capacity to process five metric tons of raw mangoes producing 3,000 liters of Puree (Mango concentrate) per hour. A liter of the concentrate fetches Sh150 at the market place.

This factory will provide opportunities for local farmers and investors to own a stake and grow wealth, learn new technologies and learn about value addition to increase farm incomes.

Makueni County, with a total of 1,469,625 mango trees from its 28,696 farmers, led in 2010 mango production in the Eastern province, generating Sh1.267,974. Machakos County followed with Sh300,268 from 506,544 mango trees scattered to its 17,676 farmers according to  Institution Development and Management’s baseline survey of mango trees census report.

(Source: FarmBizafrica)

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The orange tree is an evergreen, flowering tree, with an average height of 9 to 10 m (30 to 33 ft), although some very old specimens can reach 15 m (49 ft). Its oval leaves, alternately arranged, are 4 to 10 cm (1.6 to 3.9 in) long and have crenulate margins.

Oranges can thrive in a wide range of soil and climatic conditions. Citrus is grown from sea level up to an altitude of 2100 m but for optimal growth a temperature range from 2° to 30° C is ideal. Long periods below 0°C are injurious to the trees and at 13° C growth diminishes.

Temperature plays an important role in the production of high quality fruit. Typical coloring of fruit takes place if night temperatures are about 14° C coupled with low humidity during ripening time. Exposure to strong winds and temperatures above 38° C may cause fruit drop, scarring and scorching of fruits. In the tropics, the high lands provide the best night weather for orange color and flavor.

Depending on the scion/ rootstock combination, Orange trees grow on a wide range of soils varying from sandy soils to those high in clay. Soils that are good for growing are well-drained, medium-textured, deep and fertile. Waterlogged or saline soils are not suitable and a pH range of 5.5 to 6.0 is ideal. In acidic soil, citrus roots do not grow well, and may lead to copper toxicity. On the other hand, at pH above 6, fixation of trace elements take place (especially zinc and iron) and trees develop deficiency symptoms. A low pH may be corrected by adding dolomite lime (containing both calcium and magnesium)

A orange orchard needs continuous soil moisture to develop and produce, and water requirement reaches a peak between flowering and ripening. However, many factors such as temperature, soil type, location, plant density and crop age influence the quantity of water required. Well-distributed annual rainfall of not less than 1000 mm is needed for fair crop. In most cases, due to dry spells, irrigation is necessary. Under rain-fed conditions, flowering is seasonal.
There is a positive correlation between the onset of a rainy season and flower break. With irrigation flowering and picking season could be controlled by water application during dry seasons. Irrigation systems involving mini sprinklers irrigating only soil next to citrus trees have been developed as an efficient and water conserving irrigation method.




  • Acquire your Seedlings from our farms at onset of rains.
  • Clear the field and dig planting holes 60 x 60 x 60 cm well before the onset of rains.
  • During planting, use well-rotted manure with topsoil.
  • Spacing varies widely, depending on elevation, rootstock and variety. Generally, trees need a wider spacing at sea level than those transplanted at higher altitudes. Usually the plant density varies from 150 to 500 trees per ha, which means distances of  5 x 6 m (oranges, grapefruits and mandarins) or 7 x 8 m (oranges, grapefruits and mandarins). In some countries citrus is planted in hedge rows.
  • It is very important to ensure that seedlings are not transplanted too deep.
  • After planting, the seedlings ought to be at the same height or preferably, somewhat higher than in the nursery.
  • Under no circumstances must the graft union ever be in contact with the soil or with mulching material if used.

Orange Management and maintenance

  • Keep the trees free of weeds.
  • Maintain a single stem up to a height of 80-100 cm.
  • Remove all side branches / rootstock suckers.
  • Pinch or break the top branch at a height of 100 cm to encourage side branching.
  • Allow 3-4 scaffold branches to form the framework of the tree.
  • Remove side branches including those growing inwards.
  • Ensure all diseased and dead branches are removed regularly.
  • Careful use of hand tools is necessary to avoid injuring tree trunks and roots. Such injuries may become entry points for diseases.
  • As a rule, if dry spells last longer than 3 months, irrigation is necessary to maintain high yields and fruit quality. Irrigation could be done with buckets or a hose pipe but installation of irrigation system would be ideal.FERTILIZERS

    For normal growth development (high yield and quality fruits), Orange trees require a sufficient supply of fertilizer and manuring. No general recommendation regarding the amounts of nutrients can be given because this depends on the fertility of the specific soil. Professional, combined soil and leaf analyses would provide right information on nutrient requirements.

    In most cases tropical soils are low in organic matter. To improve them at least 20 kg (1 bucket) of well-rotted cattle manure or compost should be applied per tree per year as well as a handful of rock phosphate. On acid soils 1-2 kg of agricultural lime can be applied per tree spread evenly over the soil covering the root system. Application of manure or compost makes (especially grape-) fruits sweeter (farmer experience).

    Nitrogen can be supplied by inter cropping citrus trees with legume crops such as cowpeas, clover or beans, and incorporating the plant material into the soil once a year. Mature trees need much more compost/well-rotted manure than young trees to cater for more production of fruit.
    Conventional fertilization depend on soil types as well.

There are many orange trees diseases caused by bacteria, mycoplasma, fungi and viruses. The organic citrus disease management consists in a 3-step system:

  • Use of disease-free planting material to avoid disease problems
  • Choosing root stocks and cultivars that are tolerant or resistant to prevalent diseases
  • Application of fungicides such as copper, sulfur, clay powder and fennel oil. Copper can control several disease problems. However, it must not be forgotten that high Copper accumulations in the soil is toxic for soil microbial life and reduce the cation exchange capacity.

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