Saturday, 21 January 2012

Lucrative strawberries market emerging in Kenya



Strawberry Farming Manual For sale
Chandler Strawberry Variety


Strawberry gardening is a multi-billion dollar business around the world.The fruit is a high value crop in Kenya for export and local market. Strawberries are very juicy health-packed fruits which can be eaten whole, made into fruit salads , jam,Milk shake and smoothie juice. Gardening of strawberries by farmers  in Central Kenya region has traditionally been for export to Europe. However an equally lucrative market for the strawberry leaves which used to be thrown away is likely to emerge  in  the near  future .

Beautiful Fresh  Strawberry Leaves
Potted Strawberry plant
There is potential for the leaves to be bought by decorating  florist firms in the major towns around the country. According to a florist from Nairobi the demand for bouquets, which was formerly limited to offices, churches and events, is now expanding to individuals, with demand for home flowers and decorations growing in the recent past. This is causing the  demand for the strawberry leaves, which are an important component of the bouquets due to their beautiful shape . Strawberries’ gardening is therefore a golden opportunity for the youth in Kenya for self employment and livelihood improvement . Strawberries are easy to grow, require minimal land and thrive well in a wide range of temperatures ranging from mild to hot. Basic requirements for strawberry gardening include, water, compost or farm yard manure, garden shears, garden spades, Garden Trowels, Planting material, Rot tillers and Shovels ,recommended pesticides and fungicides, produce packaging materials and capital.Strawberry varieties suitable for growing in Kenya include Chandler, Douglas(Two most popular varieties),  Tioga selva,Tristar, Domanil, Rabunda,pajaro and Tribute.The crop grows well in warm to hot climate and does not tolerate freezing. Some main diseases affecting the crop include Fusarium Oxysponium, Botrytis and Fusarium Wilt.
 Avoid growing strawberry on land where the following crops were planted the previous season, due to susceptibility to Verticillium wilt a viral disease controlled through crop rotation only.
  • Tomatoes
  • capsicums
  • Eggplant/brinjals
  • okra
Strawberries gardening starts with thorough land preparation in order to raise a vigorous crop. A bed raised to 20cm with a width of 1metre by any convenient length should be prepared, and well decomposed manure incorporated into the soil at a rate of one medium bucket per square metre. Then planting holes are made at a spacing of 30cm from row to row and 30cm from plant to plant. In strawberries gardening propagation is done using vegetative material namely splits of the strawberries crown. Planting is done after thorough watering of the bed and  the roots be are well covered but not too deep so as to prevent rotting of the stem.  Mulching is a recommended post planting management practice in strawberries gardening in order to conserve moisture, control weeds and keep strawberries clean. Irrigate daily in the afternoon during the first month after planting for good crop establishment and 2-3 times a week from the second month of gardening onwards.De-blossoming andremoval of strawberry flowers is recommended for the first 2 months to avoid premature fruiting, which may lead to stunting and poor development of the crop.

Harvesting of strawberry fruits starts 2½months - 3months after planting. Thinning to 2- 3 splits per crown should be done every 7 months to allow rejuvenation and increase strawberry yields. Runners and old leaves are removed in strawberries gardening in a practice called pruning or stripping.  Flowering is continuous with adequate watering with a pause in the cold season.The lifespan of the crop is 3 years.During the gardening period foliar feeds may be applied to boost the yields. Rooting media or enzymes which include plantone, Anatone1, Anatone( a broad spectrum for roots, flower stimulation and fruit retention) may enhance strawberry plant establishment. Tie the top end of the cuttings, then dip strawberries cuttings into the enzyme solution  for 42 hrs. Put fertile soil into plastic bags and plant the cuttings ensuring two nodes are below the soil level, then water frequently.Seeking knowledge on gardening  of strawberries is a necessary step during the planning period. Training on strawberry gardening is highly recommended for all serious visionary agribusinesses, as a mistake made cannot be corrected before 3 yrs are over . Strawberry cultivation is an expanding industry in Kenya with  great potential for growth.  
 
Strawberry Grown in Bags