Sunday, 23 December 2012

Strawberries Growing Become Popular in Kenya

Strawberry Farming has become increasingly popular in the recent past in Kenyan rural, urban and peri-urban areas. The fruit plant is a high value export crop which makes a multi-billion dollar business around the world. Strawberries are very juicy health-packed fruits which are eaten whole, in fruit salads, jam, milk shake and smoothie juice. Farming of strawberries in Central Kenya region has traditionally been for export to Europe.

However an equally lucrative market for the strawberry plant leaves which used to be thrown away is emerging as a produce in demand. The leaves are being bought by decorating and 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 flowers for home decorations growing in the recent past. This has caused the demand for the strawberry leaves, an important component of bouquets due to their beautiful shape and sweet scent. Strawberries’

Farming is therefore a perfect opportunity for the youth in Kenya for self employment and livelihood improvement. Strawberries are easy to grow, require little land and perform well in a wide range of temperatures ranging from mild to hot. Basic requirements for strawberry Farming include, water, animal manure or compost, garden tools, recommended pesticides and fungicides, packaging materials and Farming capital. The most popular strawberry varieties grown in Kenya are Chandler and pajero.

Other suitable varieties in Kenya includes Tioga selva,Douglas, Tristar, Domanil, Rabunda and Tribute. The crop grows well in warm to hot climate and does not tolerate freezing. Some main diseases affecting this crop include Fusarium Oxysponium, Botrytis and Fusarium Wilt. Avoid growing strawberry on land where crops susceptible to Verticillium wilt a viral disease controlled through crop rotation, were planted in the preceding season. Such crops are capsicums, okra, tomatoes, and eggplant/brinjals

Strawberries Farming starts with thorough land preparation in order to grow vigorous a 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 Farming propagation is done using vegetative material namely splits of the strawberries crown.

 Planting is done after thorough watering of the bed and the roots should be covered but not too deep so as to avoid rotting of the stem.  Mulching is a recommended post planting management practice in strawberries Farming 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 growth, then 2-3 times a week from the second month of Farming of growth onward 

De-blossoming/removal of strawberry flowers is recommended for the first 2 months of growth to avoid premature fruiting, which leads to stunting and poor development of the crop. Harvesting of strawberry fruits starts 2½months - 3months after planting. Thinning to2- 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 Farming and the practice is named pruning or stripping.  Flowering is continuous with adequate watering and the lifespan of the crop is 3 years. 

During the production period foliar feeds may be applied to plants to boost growth. Practical training on Farming of strawberries and farm planning for best profit is provided to farmers by the Youth agro-environmental Initiative. Training on strawberry Farming is the first step for all serious visionary agribusinesses. Strawberry farming is an expanding industry in Kenya with a great potential for growth. Practical training on strawberry plant cultivation is available. Contact our agriculture professionals at