Strawberry Farming in Kenya | Strawberry growing in Kenya

Strawberry farming in Kenya is one of the most profitable ventures in
2019. Though  very few farmers are strawberry farming in Kenya
currently, the ones who are are reaping big. This is because of the
popularity of the strawberry flavor from yoghurt, ice-creams, jams to
even perfume. The demand of these citrus fruits is bursting at the seams
and the supply is really low. Companies that use these fruits as raw
materials are being forced to import. That is why strawberry farming is
and will remain a very lucrative agribusiness in the years to come.

All images: Pixabay.com

The good thing about strawberry farming in
Kenya is that they take up a very small piece of land. With
just an eighth of an acre, a farmer can be able to make more in a month
than most employed individuals. What’s more, the fruits are ready for
harvesting just 70 days after planting. They can  be harvested 2 or 3
times each year for up to three years. Harvesting does not take place
during the rainy seasons.

Like any other business with attractive returns, strawberry farming in Kenya requires capital. The variety preferred by most farmers is Chandler and with just one seedling going for at least Kenyan Shilling 20, you will
need 60,000 Kenyan shillings to plant an eighth of an acre.  But here’s
the good part, strawberries are runners, so once you plant, you are able
to propagate them without having to buy more seedlings. You just need
to make sure that your crop has not been infected by any disease.Another
drawback is that strawberries require drip irrigation since rain water
makes their leaves susceptible to fungal irrigation.This means that
greenhouse farming is the perfect way to ensure that you have a harvest
throughout the year even when the rain is too much.

Strawberry Farming in Kenya

  • Soil preparation:  Strawberry farming in Kenya does the best in
    areas where the soil is in 6 to 6.2 PH. The soil needs to be well
    drained and weed-free. Do not plant them in a place where plants of the tomatoes family like raspberries and eggplants have been previously.
  •  Planting: The best planting time is just when the rains are stopping.
  • Spacing: Plant the strawberries on raised beds separating the
    plants with between 18 and 24 inches. The rows should be 3 or 4 feet
    apart.
  •  Watering: Drip irrigation at the root is required once per week.
  • Fertilizing: Compost should be applied every so often.
    Strawberries are runners and it is therefore necessary to ensure that at least 12 inches between plants remains.
  • Harvesting: Harvesting seasons come 2 or three times an year.
    During the harvesting season, pick every 2 to three days. To increase
    fruit production, prune off the flowers the first time they appear.
  • Marketing: See how to market strawberries in Kenya in this article.

Why Strawberry Farming in Kenya has become Lucrative recently

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 for Strawberry Farming in Kenya
Strawberry Farming in KenyaStrawberry 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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