Queries on milk business, aloe vera and fruit trees

A worker sprays a potato farm with a pesticide in Elburgon, Nakuru County

A worker sprays a potato farm with a pesticide in Elburgon, Nakuru County, on November 17, 2022. Potato crops are usually invaded by pests and diseases during the dry and cold seasons, reducing yields.

Photo credit: John Njoroge | Nation Media Group

Where can I get aloe vera seeds?

Where can I purchase certified aloe vera seeds for my farm in Seme Sub-county, Kisumu County?

Walter Apiyo 

Seeds may take longer to grow, probably several weeks. Seedlings are a good way of propagating aloe vera. The best species to grow are Aloe bardensis and Aloe chinensis. You can get good seedlings from Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organisation (Kalro) centres countrywide. Aloe vera seedlings can also be found and purchased from Herbal Garden Company in Nairobi.

Carol Mutua, crop production specialist.

Water needs for trees and fruits

Greetings, I have planted passion fruit, eucalyptus, avocado and lemons. My greatest challenge is getting water. I am working on piping water from a nearby river. What exactly do I require for piping?

Bor

You can pump water from the river into a tank and then install a drip irrigation system because fruit trees do not need a lot of water. Drip irrigation is the application of water to the root zone of the crop. 
It is done using perforated pipes, which deliver the water at the root zone. 

It can also be done using a bottle filled with water and inserted at the root zone of the plant. This uses very little water and is therefore suitable in regions or farms experiencing scarcity. 
Water under low pressure can be used in flat and sloppy areas.

In order to have a good production of avocados, irrigation is necessary, and especially during the dry period. The quantity of water applied depends on the moisture characteristics of the soil and the age of the trees in question. 

It, however, varies from 25 to 35 litres per tree per fortnight.
In lemons, irrigation is necessary where rainfall falls short. 
Mature citrus trees require about 10 litres of water every week. 

The general irrigation recommendation is to supply about 100mm of water per month. 
A minimum period of four to six weeks of drought should be provided under irrigated culture to encourage flower initiation. 

Irrigation should be carefully controlled at the fruiting stage to ensure quality preservation of the fruit. 
You can also make a basin around the trees and then irrigate by putting water in the basins.

Carol Mutua, crop production specialist.

Growing milk business

I am from Nyatike in Migori County. I have a bachelor’s degree in food science from Egerton University. I also have a diploma in dairy technology. Some time ago, I took the decision to venture into business after several attempts at finding an office job. I have done this for two years.

I collect milk from local farmers for pasteurisation and fermentation. I then sell it door-to-door. The business has many challenges as expected. Here are my questions. 
How can you help me find better ways to improve my sales and earn a bigger market?
What should I do to grow my business to a level that I do not strain too much to earn a profit?

What are the ways of financing my business since local banks and other financial institutions do not disburse loans when one has no collateral?

Eric Midida 

Certainly, you are looking for ways of scaling up your business from the proof of concept stage. There there are several avenues to do this. Imagine a sole proprietor committing Sh2 million as working capital to a business versus the same business with two individuals committing Sh1 million each. 
The working capital is constant in both scenarios. In the latter case, risks are spread with a low contribution burden and shared roles.

This demonstrates the power of seeking a committed partner or shareholder to take your fermented milk business to a higher level.
Pitching to an angel investor is another avenue to be explored but you must strongly and conveniently demonstrate the scalability of your business. 

You can also explore working with a business incubation and acceleration facility, which will offer you an array of training among others business management, resource mobilisation and fund management skills. These facilities are available, including at the county government level and widely target youth-owned businesses. One milestone you can achieve from an incubation facility is a bankable business plan that is a powerful tool in fund mobilisation.

Explore applying funds from a savings and credit society cooperative (sacco) that offers loans amounts triple the savings or shares you own with it. 

The Agricultural Financing Corporation is another alternative that has low-interest loans, provided your business gives solutions to challenges in the food sector. 

Development organisation projects too exist, with grants targeting value-addition businesses, as long as you align to their desired outcomes like your business contributing to community economic empowerment, youth employment, gender equality and parity and food safety. 


Felix Akatch Opinya, Livestock production adviser, AgriDairy Innovations

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