Saturday, April 11, 2015

Strawberry Farming in Kenya

In the recent past, Kenyans have been very conscious about their health. Companies have been forced to go herbal so as to maintain their competitive edge. The versatility of the strawberry fruit makes it the perfect fruit for this. With the scent, taste and flavor properties it brings to the table, it is no wonder that all the counters in a supermarket are stocked with strawberry perfumes, yoghurts, scented bathing soap, ice creams and even air fresheners.
Deliciously JuicyBrookside and Delamere dairies have even started putting real strawberry fruits in their yoghurt and we cannot forget the fruits themselves and how expensive they sell at in the supermarkets. Currently, a 500 grams package goes for 300 Kenyan shillings at Nakumatt and Tusky's supermarkets.

This has created a very huge demand that cannot be satisfied by the few farmers we have specializing in strawberry farming in Kenya. It is no wonder that companies are being forced to import these precious fruits that may hold the key to employment taking the country one step closer to the realization of the vision 2030.

Capital Requirements

Strawberry farming business requires one to have set aside a significant amount of money for the capital. A single seedling can goes for 20 Kenyan shillings and about 6000 seedlings are needed for a quarter piece of land. The good thing is that if you are able to start small, strawberries are runners and allow the farmers to propagate them easily. It is however necessary to ensure that your crop is free from any infection or pests as this can spread to your new bed.
The other thing to consider is that strawberries do no like rain. It causes wilting and reduces productivity. For this reason, the best place to plant your fruits would be in a greenhouse where drip irrigation is used to water the plants. In Kenya, the installation of a greenhouse will go for as little as 70,000. It is however important to invest in quality and modern greenhouses that are a little more expensive but sure to save you cash in the long run.
Strawberry Plants in a Greenhouse

Source: Pixabay
Planting strawberries

Strawberries do well is slightly acidic soil. a PH of 6 to 6.2 is ideal for them to thrive. Ensure that the bed where you are planting them is raised and weed-free. It is important to plant is an area where other plants of the tomato family like eggplants have not been to avoid diseases.

A distance of 18 to 24 inches is recommended between the seedlings and 3 to 4 feet between the rows. Drip .irrigation should be used to provide 1 inch of water every week. overhead irrigation and rain makes the leaves susceptible to wilting.
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Harvesting Strawberries

Strawberries mature very fast. This is one of the things that make them so profitable. In just 7 weeks, the first fruits will be ready for harvesting. Strawberry season comes twice or thrice every year and a crop is productive for three years.
When the fruits flower for the first time, it is good to pluck the flowers out so as to increase productivity. During harvest time, picking is done every 2 to 3 days or daily when the weather is warmer.
Occasionally, you might need to keep tending to the plant as they run and can get dense really fast. Ensure that there is a 12 inches space difference between the plants at all times. The runners can be used as seedlings for a new crop.
Remember to add compost while at it to ensure that your fruits grow healthy and to increase their productivity. Keeping an eye on bugs and insects as well as diseases is also important.

Strawberry Market in Kenya

The best thing about strawberry growing in Kenya is that the demand is so high it is impossible to lack the market for your fruits. From fruit stalls to supermarkets, Dairy companies like Delamere to Brook-side, farmers will in fact struggle to satisfy the current demand.

See Also: Strawberry Market in Kenya

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