Experts' take on farming, agribusiness issues

Chilli is a warm-season crop and requires temperatures of 20-30°C for growth and good fruit set.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Kitale is suitable for the production of many crops, from horticulture to pasture. However, the choice of crops to grow depends on a number of issues, with market being one of them.
  • Chilli farming is surely a profitable venture since the plants have a good market. They are rich in vitamins A, B and C as well as minerals.
  • Yield for chillies is 1,000-3,000kg per acre but higher yields can be obtained under good management.

Potatoes for making chips

Is there an improved potato variety suited for making chips? If yes, share the contacts of the grower.

Peter B Jerard, Mtwapa

Yes, there are improved varieties for making chips like Kenya Mpya, Purple Gold and Sherekea, among others.

Some of the varieties were improved by Kalro. Kindly visit the nearest branch for more information.

For information on growers of improved potato varieties, visit the Ministry of Agriculture offices in potato-growing regions.

Carol Mutua,
Department of Crops, Horticulture and Soils, 
Egerton University.

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Crops you can grow in Kitale

I would like to know, other than maize, what other commercial crops can I plant in Kitale?

Emmanuel

Kitale is suitable for the production of many crops, from horticulture to pasture. However, the choice of crops to grow depends on a number of issues, with market being one of them.

Though not limited to the following, consider cabbages, field beans, soybeans, onions and boma rhodes for both hay and seed and wheat.

Tom Charles Owino
Department of Crops, Horticulture and Soils, 
Egerton University.

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Agricultural advice

I was greatly disappointed by an answer from Sillus Oduor of Egerton University that advocated for use of Roundup to weed a farm.

He should have added that Roundup needs to be used with utmost caution and all measures must be taken to protect oneself.

For Sillus to suggest that to someone who sounds new to farming is very careless should be discouraged and condemned.

I am also shocked by the lack of organic advice from the experts. The world is changing to safer and environmentally friendly ways of farming, thus, this is what must be encouraged.

Anne Kigada

This is well-noted and we will promote all forms of farming practices. The response, however, had suggested various methods to choose from, and it is the decision of the farmer on which one to follow.

It is also important to note that all chemicals to be used on a farm (Roundup, which is effective in non–selective weed controller) have precautionary measures as outlined by the manufacturer.

These should be followed strictly for safety.

Sillus Oduor
 Department of Crops, Horticulture and Soils, 
Egerton University
.

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Growing chilli

I would like to farm chilli commercially in Nairobi. Please advise on good methods of farming the crop?

Fred

Chilli farming is surely a profitable venture since the plants have a good market. They are rich in vitamins A, B and C as well as minerals.

Varieties: The most common include Cayenne, African Bird Eye, Jalapeno, Serenade and Habareno. The seeds are available in most agrovet shops and seed companies.

Ecological requirements: Chillies will do well at an altitude of 1,500m above sea level. Rainfall should be about 600-1,200mm per annum.

Chilli is a warm-season crop and requires temperatures of 20-30°C for growth and good fruit set. Chilli can do well in a wide range of soils as long as they are well-drained and have a soil pH of 6-6.5.

Propagation: The seeds are first planted in a nursery bed for six to eight weeks, after which they are transplanted to the field.

During transplanting, water the nursery bed at least an hour before uprooting the seedlings and transplant when the weather is cool, preferably in the evening or on a cloudy day.

Before transplanting, apply 10 tons/ha of manure in the seedbed and mix the manure thoroughly with the soil. During transplanting, apply 250kg DAP and then top dress with 100kg/ha CAN when the plants are 15cm high

Pests and diseases: Chilli is affected by pests and diseases, just like any other crop. The most common pests are aphids, mites, whiteflies and thrips, among others. Pests and diseases should be controlled using the appropriate method.

Harvesting: It starts two-and-a-half to three months after transplanting and continues for 3-4 months. Pick the red ripe chillies as soon as possible but this will depend on the market requirements, that is, whether red ripe or green.

Yield for chillies is 1,000-3,000kg per acre but higher yields can be obtained under good management.

Market: They have a ready market both locally and internationally. Export market is available in Europe, Germany, Norway, the UK and France but remember that for you to export, there are some conditions you must meet.

Carol Mutua
Department of Crops, Horticulture and Soils, 
Egerton University.

 

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