Farming should be undertaken as a business that generates profit. To achieve this, farmers need to diversify farming and include high value crops on the farm. Today, I will look at four crops that are gaining popularity due to their potential to boost farmers cash flow.
It has been described as ‘gold’ by farmers growing it. The crop popular for its many health benefits such as high fibre, Vitamin C and K, iron and manganese, fetches good prices in the market. A single blue berry plant can produce up to five kilos in a year.
The market price of blue berries is Sh1,500 per kilo. Although blue berry produces better in a controlled environment, it can also be produced locally but the yields would be lower.
The blueberries can grow in a wide range of climatic conditions. However, better yields are realised in areas experiencing full sunshine. The crop thrives better in acidic soils with the pH ranging from 4 to 5. Because the crop has shallow roots, the soils should be free draining but retains moisture. Avoid soils that hold to much water as it can result into rotting. The major production threat to producing blue berries are predatory birds.
It is therefore important to add nets around the plants especially during fruiting.
Harvesting starts in the second or third season of growth. The plants produce berries once in a year. Fruit that are ready for harvesting freely fall off when plucked.
The first harvest the plants produce about one kilo of fruits per plant.
The production increases as the plant matures with an average of 5 to 6 kilos produced per plant in the 6th year. A single plant can produce fruits continuously for more than 20 years. With proper crop husbandry, blueberries can be a profitable crop worth investing.
Blueberries do well in acidic soil. The soil pH should ideally be between four and five. The more organic matter added, the more tolerance to
Popularly known as Kiwifruit or Chinese gooseberry, it is a fruit that has a gristly, dull green-brown skin and with green or sometimes golden flesh with rows of small, black edible seeds. The fruit has a characteristic soft texture and a sweet flavour with a strong and growing market in United Kingdom, Far east and European markets.
The fruit vines would grow in most areas of the country such as Western and Uasin Gishu given the adequate rainfall and free draining soils. For better yields, the vines should be planted during the long rains or where there is an irrigation system.
In commercial production, different breeds are selected for rootstock, scion and pollinators.
Kiwifruits, with the exception of rootstock and new cultivars, are propagated asexually. This is done by grafting the fruit producing plant onto rootstock grown from seedlings or, if the plant is desired to be a true cultivar, rootstock grown from cuttings of a mature plant.
For better yields, consider including male pollinators to pollinate female plants. It is recommended one male vine for every three to eight female vines. Although, some varieties can self-pollinate, they produce a greater and more reliable yield when pollinated by male kiwifruit vines.
Expect to start harvesting Kiwifruits after three to four years.
The production per vine increases as the trees mature which means that at the start production is low. The crop is harvested once annually, and vines can stay productive for at least 40 years with good crop husbandry.
In an eighth of an acre, a farmer can plant 50 Kiwifruit vines. A single tree can produce about 200 fruits with a one fruit retailing at an average price of Sh 100. The farming is less labour intensive and allows the farmer to intercrop with other crops such as beans and potatoes.
The Kiwifruits have an extended shelf-life and can be stored for over six months after harvesting when stored in a cool place.
[The writer is an expert on sustainable agriculture]