WHY SMALL-SCALE FARMERS ARE ENCOURAGED TO GROW FRUITS AND NUTS
Growing fruits and nuts provides a wide opportunity for kenyan poor families to enhance their incomes as well as improving the nutrition of the poor who currently suffer from deficiencies in vitamins, minerals and other micronutrients because of low
consumption of these foods.
Source Of Vitamins
According to World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), many fruits are, for example, important sources of vitamins A and C that are lacking in the diets of many Africans. Low intake of vitamin A – around 50 million African children are at risk of deficiency – is considered to be Africa’s third greatest public health problem after HIV/AIDS and malaria. Vitamin C, on the other hand, is essential for protecting cells and keeping the body healthy and also absorbing iron from food. Vitamin C is an important mineral that is present in significant quantities in many fruits. Common fruits include HASS Avocado, Grafted Tree tomatoes, oranges, mangoes, grapes, tangerines e.t.c. Nuts on the other hand include MACADAMIA nuts, groundnuts, cashew nuts, e.t.c.
Impact of Fruits and Nuts Farming
Action on improving fruit and nut availability and quality, when coordinated, is likely to have a major positive impact on the health of African consumers and increase income generation.
If farmers receive good incomes from cultivating high quality fruits and nuts, that consumers can afford and are informed about the benefits of eating them, a strong domestic production sector can develop in Kenya. The cultivation of fruits and nuts by smallholders to feed local markets and support of export markets presents a tremendous opportunity for investment, especially if the indigenous species that are recognized and valued by domestic consumers are considered as well as exotic ones. At present, about 80% of the total market value of fruit and nut crops is earned locally in Kenya, and this market is likely to grow further in the coming decade.
Source of Income
The total value of all traded production was estimated to be 650 million USD in Kenya in 2007, of which around 85% was contributed by fruits and 15% by nuts. Many fruit and nut species are rare assets in that they can be established on farms with a very modest initial investment and their value increases with time and is maintained over many years, continuing to contribute to family livelihoods and to bringing women, men and children out of poverty in a sustainable way. By conserving these genetic resources in farmland – of indigenous species that are threatened in the natural landscape as forests recede, and of locally adapted exotic species – they are also made available to future generations, so that their livelihoods and health can also benefit. Moreover, fruit and nut production is not amenable to much mechanization and is therefore labor-intensive, and thus plays to one of the key strengths of smallholders, which is their low labor cost, enabling them to compete with larger farmers.
Read Also: IS MACADAMIA THE CENTRAL-KENYA GOLD-MINE?
Production of Fruits and Nuts
Although the potential for improving fruit and nut production to improve incomes for small-scale farmers in Kenya and elsewhere in Africa is evident, smallholders face a number of bottlenecks in the cultivation and sale of produce. These include production constraints, such as limited species and variety development, inefficient delivery systems for delivering superior cultivars to farmers, and poor farm management practices, with smallholders being unaware of better propagation, pest management and irrigation methods to improve quality, increase productivity and profits. In addition, farmers face market constraints, such as poor post-harvest practices that reduce sale ability, poor market delivery systems, lack of knowledge about the species and varieties for which markets are available, and lack of awareness among consumers of the health benefits of eating fruits and nuts.
Kenya has a very big market potential, since in most parts of Kenya, fruits are available throughout the year. This is a very long period and can be utilized to beat the export market. The major challenges facing the fruit marketing in Kenya are the competition from other producers such as South Africa and Israel; these can only be
addressed by improving the quality of the fruits produced.
NB! If you need to grow tree fruits, Macadamia nuts or tissue banana, kindly visit our offices or contact us.