For many years, farmers in the central highlands of Kenya have depended on Coffee and tea farming as the main cash crops. Everything was going on well with farmers smiling to the banks until sometime back when prices plummeted to the great disappointment of coffee farmers in Kenya.
But just when doom seemed like the inevitable reality for these farmers, came the Hass avocado, a variety that has a high demand overseas. Hope has been rekindled and farmers’ accounts are now swelling since the export market is too hungry for this crop.
Hass avocado farming in Kenya is bigger than coffee. Any unit of the tree if appropriately managed will provide 1,000 fruits/tree a year. According to the current prices by for example Kakuzi Ltd, a single fruit sell between Ksh 10 and Ksh 20 and sometimes goes even beyond Ksh 30.
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With that, we can do a rapid calculation: an acre of avocado can have 150 trees well-spaced (17ft by 17 ft). If at full maturity a tree can give you 1000 fruits, and we assume the market is fair and a fruit goes for Ksh 15, it then means that 1000X15X150 = 2.25M per year
Keeping in mind the under-supplied market and the fact that avocado trees require little attention, this is a venture worth investing in. It takes only 2 -3 years to start harvesting.
Handle all avocados with great care! Export markets, especially the European market, have very strict quality requirements which smallholders may find difficult to meet. Local markets are less complicated but also tricky, because avocados tend to mature all at the same time, making it unprofitable for farmers to sell them.
It is almost impossible for farmers to store or process avocados. Commercial avocado growers must therefore be linked closely to a good market
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The apricot favors well drained soil but doesn’t like to be too dry especially in the summer. Providing a happy medium between the two will be key to success and it is up to you to judge the type of soil you already have and influence the structure as much as you can. Too light or sandy then pep it up with lots and lots of organic rich material. Too weighty or sluggish then alleviate it with lots of grit, sharp sand and leaf mold.
The soil should be well cultivated and friable; double dig-it over if it has not been cultivated before. Clear away all perennial weeds because the last thing you want is added competition from them when your trees are in settled, and growing.
Prepare a hole large enough to take the roots. Apricots are vigorous growers and you may find the root system larger than that of other trees. Set the tree to the same depth as it was at the nursery previously – examination of the stem should reveal the soil mark still identifiable and this will tell you how deeply it was set in the ground before. In any event the grafting point should sit above the soil level and the roots buried in not less than 2” of soil.
Dry mulches should be used to retain moisture while heavy banana stems should be supported to avoid damage. Old diseased leaves should be removed while de-leafing is important to ensure healthy growth. Harvesting begins after 15-18 months, and a light shiny appearance means that the banana is ready for harvest. Harvesting should be delicate to avoid bruising of the bananas. The bananas should be temporarily stored in a cool, dry place and should be wrapped in banana leaves or grass to avoid bruising. If for export, they should be washed using a disinfectant and might require branding.
Plums are excellent fresh but also make a wonderful jam or jelly. Plums require full sun and well-drained, sandy soil to thrive. They prefer a soil with a pH that ranges from 5.5 to 6.5. It is always a good idea to have your soil tested before planting any fruit tree to be sure that they pH is appropriate. You should also work the appropriate amendments into your soil before planting. Their overall size may also need to be considered. Most plum trees will reach 16 feet at maturity or 14 feet if they are a dwarf variety.
Plums have quite high moisture demands, so they are best planted on good clay or loamy soils. But sites also need to be well drained as plums, and gages in particular, hate waterlogged soils. Add bulky organic matter to sandy or shallow chalky soils prior to planting.
Plant plum trees in well-drained, moderately fertile soil in full sun. Avoid planting in low areas where frost may settle, as the frost will damage your trees. If possible, find a sheltered position, such as a south- or west-facing spot out of the wind. This will help the plum tree set fruit. For grafted trees, keep the graft union 1 inch above the soil line when planting. Dig a hole that is a few inches deeper and wider than the spread of the roots. Set the tree on top of a small mound of soil in the middle of the hole. Be sure to spread the roots away from the trunk without excessively bending them. Space standard-size trees 20 to 25 feet apart. Space dwarf trees 15 to 20 feet apart.
Plums develop their best flavor if left to ripen on the tree. If they feel soft when gently squeezed, they are ripe. Trees will generally need picking over several times. Harvest fruits carefully so as not to bruise them, then eat fresh, destone and freeze, or make the fruits into preserves.
Tamarillo best known by the name tree-tomatoes in Kenya is a fast-growing tree that grows up to 5 meters. Peak production is reached after 1-3 years, and the life expectancy is about 12 years. The tree usually forms a single upright trunk with lateral branches. They produce 1 to 6 fruits per cluster. Plants can set fruit without cross-pollination, but the flowers are fragrant and attract insects. Cross-pollination seems to improve fruit set.
The Tree-Tomato prefers subtropical climate, they grow in many parts of kenya with rainfall between 600 and 4000 millimeters and annual temperatures between 15 and 20 °C. It is intolerant to frost (below -2 °C) and drought stress. It is assumed that fruit set is affected by night temperatures. Areas where citrus are cultivated provide good conditions for Tree-Tomatos. Tree-Tomato plants grow best in light, deep, fertile soils, although they are not very demanding. However, soils must be permeable since the plants are not tolerant to water-logging. They grow naturally on soils with a pH of 5 to 8.5. They are as well planted by irrigation as they also do well.
we graft our seedling with "muthakwa" to ensure our tees are resistant to nematodes, they are drought resistant, mature fast in 9 months compared to other that mature in more than a year. Due to good feeding our fruits are bigger than normal.