Since the start of the year, we have been implementing our first demo project in kitale geared towards sustainable fruit farming. The project objective is to empower local communities through sustainable seed finance, mentorship and technical support in natural food farming technology and sustainable agribusiness. We seek to enable local wo/men and youth build resilience for their livelihoods against the effects of climate change, pandemics, natural disasters and calamities. We intend to document and disseminate successful strategies for replication and scale up in other parts of the country.
Smallholder farmers have great potential that need to be harnessed and converted into income generating models. We do believe horticulture can play a crucial role in uplifting the living standards of small scale farmers in areas such as Kitale and its environs. Climatic condition in this area is ideal for cultivation of fruit trees and vegetables, what is lacking is a change of mindset and technical skills. This project will demonstrate to small scale farmers how cultivation of fruits, vegetables and running small ventures can be profitable. Giving us impetus is the latest data from the directorate of horticulture that shows an increase in earnings from fruits and vegetables. There is a dietary need to boost body immunity making fruits and vegetables be in demand world over. The importance of fruits, nuts and vegetables in healthy lifestyles has benefitted horticulture making it lucrative.
The main fruit we focusing on is avocado; hass and fuerte varieties targeting export market. The economic and social importance of avocado cannot be gainsaid. The fruit has a large market as a fresh fruit, processed foods derived from it and as an ingredient in oil, cosmetic, soap, and shampoo. Kenya as a country still has a lot of ground to cover for it to be the leading exporter of quality avocadoes. His Excellency, the Deputy President Dr. William Ruto is on record encouraging farmers to diversify mentioning avocado as an alternative crop that can help farmers in this area increase income. A good number of farmers have heeded the message and have started embracing avocado cultivation making Kenya one of the fastest growing avocado exporters. Governors such as Hon. Jackson Mandago, Wycliffe Oparanya, and Lee Kinyanjui among others have also encouraged and supported farmers by providing grafted avocado seedlings. Some counties are in the process of establishing avocado factories to serve local farmers with ready market for their produce.
Total production does not equal the total amount of fruit exported because only a small percentage meets export quality. As much as we are increasing the acreage under avocado, it is prudent to narrow the gap between what is produced and what is exported by ensuring top quality is produced. Our main aim is to ensure small scale farmers can produce the desired quality of fruit that can compete in international market. Farmers within project area will be advised to plant a minimum of 10 grafted avocados per homestead. We encourage farmers to form clusters that will in turn form strong grower associations which are vital to ensure farmers are up to date with the trends in the avocado industry. Part of the strategy is to encourage farmers to plant veges and medium term fruits for the first 2 years before the avocado trees mature. There is a wide range of veges that farmers can do for their own consumption and for both local and export market. They include: kales, spinach, cabbage, managu, french beans, peas, capsicum, onions and any other that the market requires. There is also a component of poultry production where farmers will be encouraged to keep poultry and given necessary training and seed finance.
This demonstration project will offer practical education and knowledge transfer to farmers and also seek to expand and document local knowledge. We intend to partner with farmers as we learn how to manage the farm as a business. Together we will develop a curricular that addresses local needs covering different topics. This will include; being consumer driven, people and environment friendly, planting what is adapted to your farm, orchard maintenance, record keeping, cutting costs and improving outputs, improving quality, sales enablement, how to differentiate your product for a premium price, managing change. The main objective of this curricular is to ensure farmers run profitable environment friendly ventures. We intend to link the farmers with various buyers and create a platform where farmers can trade amongst themselves. Small scale farmers from project area who wish to be part of this initiative can reach us on +254715963005 or firstname.lastname@example.org