Grape is a woody vine that produces clusters of edible berries. They can be eaten raw or can be used to process wine and other products such as jam and grape juice. There are plenty of health benefits in consuming grapes for they are a rich source of Vitamins- A, C, K and minerals such as iron, copper, manganese. Grapes are widely cultivated all over the world due to the fact that they are non-climatic and can thrive in different climatic conditions but they prefer warm to hot temperatures. Grapes are suitable for home gardeners and for small scale or large scale commercial production. In Kenya, grapes can be used to reduce economic and food insecurity because there is a good market within the country. There is ready market throughout the year and new wine companies that use grapes as their main raw material are setting shop in Kenya. Established companies such as East African breweries ltd are thinking of entering the wine market as they seek to diversify. The future of this crop is promising.
A good percentage of the grape consumed in Kenya is imported and mostly sold to the high end market that pays a good price for them- a kilo goes at around 400-500 Ksh. Wine producing companies such as Kenyan wine agencies do import the grapes they use because of the good quality of imported grapes and lack of local supply .Any company prefers getting their core raw materials from within and are only forced to import if they have no other choice. This greatly increases the cost of production and denies such companies a competitive advantage. Some of the companies are aware of this and have developed their own grapevine orchards but the grape produced is still insufficient.
This plant has the potential to create employment and wealth among Kenyan farmers’ especially young farmers who are ready to try something new. Grapes’ growing is still in its formative stage despite the fact that there are grapevine orchards in different parts of Kenya that are more than 20 years old. More farmers and home gardeners should be encouraged to embrace this crop. Farmers can go an extra mile and establish wine making cottage industries that will improve the economic outlook of their locality. There is a lot to be done to ensure farmers are well trained on grape cultivation and value addition to guarantee high quality produce that will rival imported grapes and wine.
Grape prefers deep and well drained soil and can grow in any soil type. They can be propagated through seeds or vegetatively by using cuttings. While planting a spacing of 15-20 cm should be observed. A trellis system should also be implemented to train and support the grape vines as they grow. Alternatively grapes can be planted together with mulberry as a companion plant that will offer the grapes support and distract birds from eating the grape fruit for they will be attracted to the mulberry fruits that will be high above. Birds pose a great challenge once the crop ripens; we prefer using fruit trees such as strawberry guava and mulberry to distract them. Birds will be easily attracted to these fruits and leave the grapes that are well trained and fruits tucked under the leaves. Insect and disease problems can be reduced by planting vines in a sunny location with good air drainage.
Grapevines a month to harvesting
There are different types of grapes each having its own characteristic, advantages and disadvantages. Prospective large scale farmers should visit wineries and inquire on the types of grapes they might be interested to purchase before embracing certain cultivators because demand does differ by variety. Home growers should sample the different varieties; they can be planted along the fence in the homestead and trained well to conceal the fruits when it matures. We have stocked grape seedlings and we are still sourcing for more grape seedlings of different varieties. Pay us a visit and pick a few seedlings for your homestead or farm. We can be contacted via mail: email@example.com for more information.