Did you know that from an eighth acre piece of land, you could reap as much as Ksh 100000 per month doing straw berry Farming?
The most popular category of strawberries that is planted by most farmers in Kenya is the Chandler type since it is fast growing, produces big fruits that are tastier and juicier and the plant is easy to manage. The seedlings may be expensive but there is a way round this since one can simply propagate a few seedlings to get more seedlings to plant on their farming space.
The seedlings come in the form of splits which could cost at least Ksh 15/= per split which you can acquire from Kalro Njoro/Thika, Horticulture directorate or Department of Crops, Horticulture and Soils (Egerton University). These institutions produce quality planting materials.
To start with, this variety of strawberry is not so choosy with soils, it can do well both in clay soils and red volcanic soils provided you treat the soil well before planting and add enough organic manure(Chicken refuse, rabbit urine and/or plant manure. Inorganic manure which is good for top dressing can be used in later stages of the plant development.
The seedlings should be planted at the end of the Rainy season and incorporation of a good drip irrigation system on your small piece of land is essential for better results. in the event that you cannot afford this system, you can opt for the sprinkler irrigation system or just buy a sprinkler can and do the watering yourself but this would consume so much of your time and energy as the soil needs to be moist at all times. The plant has shallow roots and therefore water is critical survival element.
Raise the soil in your piece of land into beds that run parallel to each other 60 centimeters apart. While planting, ensure that there is a 30 cm distance from one split to the other.
Choose areas that receive enough sunlight as the plants are very reactive with frost.
During the first season of flower production, pinch of the flowers to ensure better berry production the next season.
Introduce mulch as the plant grows 2 cm above the ground to help control weeds.
Diaznon, Kelthane and other appropriate acaracides and pesticides can help control pests and diseases.
Harvest when the top of the berries are completely red. Once picked out, it doesn’t continue ripening as other fruits. This fruit is however highly perishable and refrigeration at a constant 4 Degrees Celsius can help keep them fresh for seven days. Note that you should not wash or allow contact with water to the berries unless you are ready to eat. Picking the fruit during morning hours also increases shelf life.
Because the fruit is highly perishable, ensure that you have a ready market before the harvesting period reaches.
The direct community would be a good place to start marketing your strawberries. Local fruit stores, restaurants and other small users such as cake makers are also good buyers of strawberries in Kenya. Industries which produce food flavors, natural flavored yogurt, jam etc also buy strawberries.
For more of a practical approach to this type of farming, please fee free to check out the 4th Episode of the Mkulima ni Ujuzi YouTube Channel where a couple in Ruai explain their experience with straw berries. Success!
You should definitely try this out.