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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.

 

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HOW TO TAKE CARE OF YOUR GRAFTED ORANGES IN KENYA

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.

Related Post: GOOD RETURNS THROUGH HASS AVOCADO FARMING

PLANTING Oranges

 

  • 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.

DISEASES AND CONTROL
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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