Category Archives: Agribusiness

18 amazing business ideas you can start in 2017

sweet spot of agriculture

Have you ever tried agribusiness before? With good and thorough research agribusiness can generate a good income for you and your family in Kenya.

There are numerous opportunities and avenues to invest in agriculture. However, when you finish reading this article it’s advisable to pick an agribusiness idea or venture to invest in which is an intersection of your natural inclination (or disposition) and profitability (growing market demand). Do your research first and invest smart. When you finally decide which agribusiness to invest make sure you start small and grow from there. this will help you learn from your mistakes and get experience.

  1. Organic Fertilizer: The use of chemical fertilizer on crops in Kenya has been known to cause groundwater contamination and leave traces of toxic chemicals in food that aren’t safe for human consumption. Organic fertilizers which are well-packaged and free of harmful chemicals would be well received by farmers and food enthusiasts.
  2. Animal Feed Protein Source: In animal feeds, protein is one of the major ingredients needed for good and rapid growth. The animal feed industry in Kenya is open to a disruptive animal protein source that is cheap, nutritious and readily available.
  3. Greenhouse Farming: Greenhouse farming especially in urban areas in Kenya is booming. Greenhouses are very efficient and effective structures which make use of small space, controlled environment and limited nutrient to grow large number of vegetable and fruits. To cut down your costs you can use wood to construct your greenhouse.  You can easily setup a greenhouse farm beside your house to grow tomatoes and other crops to sell to your neighbours.
  4. Flowers: Fresh flowers are also another good agribusiness idea in Kenya. As we all know, fresh flowers are used for many event decoration purposes and also for home decoration purposes. You can easily make money by growing flowers.
  5. Cooking Oils: Cooking oil is mainly gotten from groundnut and palm kernel yet there are many other crops which have oil in them such as okra, pumpkin, avocado etc. You can harness and extract the oils from these crops and package them as cooking oil to be sold in markets and shops in Kenya. Many of them can add unique smell and flavor to our everyday food.
  6. Cassava Farming: Cassava is one of the most important and regular staple food for Africans. The market for starch in Kenya and other neighboring countries in Africa is huge. But the lack of quality cassava processing facilities within the country is a huge business opportunity that you can take advantage of.
  7. Sorghum: You can also invest in sorghum, which has become a very important industrial and household crop. This is a one of the very good agribusiness ideas in Kenya that isn’t being exploited
  8. Food processing and storage: This is also one of the good agribusiness ideas. Most of the food produced in Kenya end up as waste because of lack of storage facilities. This is a one of the very good agribusiness ideas that isn’t being exploited
  9. Soya bean and soya-related products:  These are also in high demand in Kenya. Soya-based foods, edible oil, and animal feeds can be your source of agribusiness venture. It’s in high demand and promises greater ROI. This is a one of the very good agribusiness ideas that isn’t being exploited
  10. Vegetables: We all eat vegetables. These are the most common and highly consumed food item in Kenya and the world. So, starting a vegetable farm is one of the simplest businesses in the entire world which gives a good profit margin. This is a one of the very good agribusiness ideas that isn’t being exploited.
  11. Hatchery Business: Another good agribusiness idea for young entrepreneurs is to start a hatchery for the purpose of strictly hatching eggs for sale to farmers. You can hatch eggs of broilers and layer birds. This is a very good agribusiness idea for young Kenyans to consider.
  12. Dairy Farming: Dairy farming is considered to be one of the most profitable agribusiness ideas in Kenya. In addition to milk and yoghurt production, a huge quantity of manure is also produced from dairy farming. This is a one of the very good agribusiness ideas that isn’t being exploited.
  13. Aqua farming: There are several options available to you such as Tilapia farming, catfish farming etc. This is a one of the very good agribusiness ideas in Kenya that isn’t being exploited.
  14. Value Addition to fruits: Fruits like strawberry, orange, grapes etc. can also be processed and turned into items like jam and jelly. This process is not so complex and it can be started on a small scale with little capital.
  15. Groundnut Processing: Groundnut processing business can be started with minimal investment. The processed ground nuts have greater value in the market and it is used in animal feeds (groundnut cake) and the production of soaps, biodiesel, insecticides etc.
  16. Flour Milling: You can also start a flour milling business in Kenya. With a good supply of maize, cassava and wheat, you can process them into flour which is used in making bread, biscuit and other food items that people consume a lot.
  17. Broker: You can also become an agricultural produce broker where you link producers of agricultural items with people willing to buy those produce.
  18. Livestock Feeds: Livestock feed production is a small scale manufacturing business that you can start. By purchasing a few processing equipment, having access to feed ingredients and raw materials, you can begin processing and bagging feeds used in rearing livestock.

 

 * Agrolution via http://graduatefarmer.co.ke/2017/06/01/18-amazing-business-ideas-you-can-start-in-2017

 

Greenhouses in the Ethiopian desert

According to a recent study published by the University of Aalto, Ethiopia is one of the countries with an insufficient and insecure supply of food. The extreme drought in the country, due to the weather conditions, and the unsuccessful strategy for the supply of food products are the main causes for this.
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However, a social organization called Roots Up may have found the key to tackling food shortages by creating a greenhouse that turns dew water into a resource suitable for irrigation. In addition to offering a possible solution to this problem, it does so with its own production system, which could help alleviate Ethiopia’s dependence on foreign food suppliers.
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Greenhouses Ethiopía 1
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This information, originally published on the website Ecoinventos, notes that dew water could help producers grow fresh vegetables “even during times of drought.” The greenhouse has a dew collector that helps collect this water, which would otherwise be lost in the atmosphere. Thus, growers can produce drinking water for both irrigation and human consumption.
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“When temperatures rise with the midday sun, the greenhouse causes the water to evaporate and rise. At nightfall, the upper part of the greenhouse, which opens by pulling the cords tied to a latch, exposes the water drops collected to the cold air. These droplets cool and condense, falling into a storage cistern, “making it possible to use the water,” according to the information of the portal specialised in agricultural technology.
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Greenhouses Ethiopía 2
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* Agrolution via http://www.hortidaily.com/article/34298/Greenhouses-in-the-Ethiopian-desert

Solar energy powers vegetable farms in the desert

With scorching summer temperatures and little rainfall, the barren scrublands around the port of Aqaba in Jordan, one of the world’s most arid countries, might seem ill suited to cultivating cucumbers.

Yet a Norwegian company is setting up a solar-powered, 20 hectare facility that promises to grow a variety of vegetables without wasting a drop of fresh water.

vegetable farms in the desert

“We take what we have enough of – sunlight, carbon dioxide, seawater and desert – to produce what we need more of – food water and energy,” said Joakim Hauge, chief executive of the Sahara Forest Project (SFP).

Harnessing abundant resources to generate scarce ones will be key to feeding a growing global population, set to reach 9 billion by 2050, without damaging the environment or accelerating climate change, he said.

Food production must rise by about 60 percent by 2050 to generate enough for everyone to eat, according to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

Agriculture already accounts for 70 percent of global fresh water use, while the food sector is responsible for more than 20 percent of planet-warming emissions and 30 percent of world energy consumption.

“We can no longer make solutions that come at the expense of other sectors,” said Hauge. “There is a need for a more integrated approach”.

The Aqaba complex, set to open in the summer, evaporates salt water piped from the nearby Red Sea to cool greenhouses, creating conditions for crops to grow all year round.

Sea water is also desalinated to generate salt and fresh water for irrigation, while vapour from greenhouses is used to humidify surrounding patches of parched land so plants can grow.

Agriculture of tomorrow?

SFP said a pilot project in the Gulf state of Qatar generated cucumber yields comparable to those of European farms. Plans are underway to expand operations to Tunisia.

But FAO experts said high costs involved limited the potential of such projects to ramp up food production on a global scale.

“You need a lot of energy and a lot of money so…the question may arise whether the same resources could be put to better use,” said FAO natural resources officer Alessandro Flammini.

To be financially viable, production must focus on high-value crops, like cucumbers and tomatoes, which poor countries might find cheaper to import, said Flammini, who analysed the Qatar pilot for a 2014 FAO report.

“It’s an interesting concept for fulfilling local needs and especially in terms of food independence and to meet the demand of a niche market,” he said.

The Aqaba complex had a $3.7 million budget and received financial support from Norway, the European Union and other investors, according to SFP.

Hauge said besides producing food, the complex, which will include a laboratory and research facilities, would produce side benefits by greening arid areas and creating jobs.

“We believe that this is part of the agriculture of tomorrow,” the biologist-turned-entrepreneur told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.

From Australia to Somalia

Several other companies are employing similar technologies in other arid corners of the world.

In 2016, UK-based agribusiness Sundrop Farms Holding opened a vast greenhouse for tomato farming in the Australian outback near Port Augusta, 300 km north of Adelaide.

The facility runs on energy mostly produced by a 115 metre solar tower that draws sunlight from 23 000 mirrors surrounding it.

“Traditional agriculture is wasteful in terms of water and fossil fuels. In addition, unprotected crops are at the mercy of the elements, causing gaps in supply, quality issues and price spikes,” Sundrop’s CEO Philipp Saumweber said in an email.

The company has signed a 10-year contract to supply Australian supermarket chain Coles with truss tomatoes and received investments of about $100 million from private equity firm KKR & Co, according to a 2014 statement.

“While the capital expenditure required to build our farms is slightly more expensive due to its cutting-edge nature, we reap the benefits of this initial investment in the long run through savings of fossil inputs,” said Saumweber.

Around seven thousand miles away, in sunbaked and drought-hit Somaliland, another British-based venture, Seawater Greenhouse, is setting up a pilot facility aimed at making high-tech greenhouse production more affordable.

“We have eliminated using fans,” said British inventor Charlie Paton, a former business partner of Saumweber, who pioneered the use of solar energy and salt water for irrigation in the 1990s.

“We designed [the greenhouse] to be cool by exploiting the prevailing wind. So it’s a wind-cooled greenhouse,” he said in a phone interview.

The one-hectare complex, which received funding from the British government, cost about $100 000, he said, adding he expected it to produce around 30 tonnes of tomatoes a year and 16 litres of drinking water a day for irrigation and livestock.

Paton said he hoped the greenhouse, which employs mostly local staff, would serve as a hub for expansion across the Horn of Africa.

“The region gets a lot of humanitarian aid and that’s arguably detrimental because if you give free food to people you put farmers out of business,” he said.

“It has more chances of success if people can make money out of it.”

* Agrolution via http://www.iol.co.za/business-report/energy/solar-energy-powers-vegetable-farms-in-the-desert-8433313

 

The Benefits of Fertigation and Irrigation Control

 

indoor hydroponic greenhouse with fertigation and irrigation control system

Irrigation – the process of artificially applying water to plants – has been in practice since as early as 6000 BC.

There have been many advances in irrigation since then, and today’s technologies have made it easier than ever to control water flow as well as fertilizers, nutrients, and other chemicals.

  1. What is Irrigation Control?
  2. What is Fertigation?
  3. Volumetric Injectors
  4. Controlling Injection with Electrical Conductivity
  5. Combining Fertilizer Injection with pH (Alkalinity) Control
  6. The Future of Fertigation and Irrigation Control

What is Irrigation Control?

Irrigation control is a technique used to manage an irrigation system. Irrigation control systems manage electric valves that regulate the flow of water through piping systems. Automatic irrigation controllers allow water to flow to specific crops, or zones, based on a triggers such as time, soil conditions, solar radiation accumulation, environmental controls, and other algorithms. This type of automation can be complex, since water must be applied to plants in specific volumes over varying amounts of time.

What is Fertigation?

Fertigation is the process of running fertilizer through irrigation water. The practice of running plant nutrients through irrigation systems has increased dramatically over the last 20 years. As careful water management and sustainability become more common issues, the need for high yields of superior-quality crops has increased. Because of this, more growers are exploring the advantages of combining their water and fertilizer applications.

The Benefit of a Fertigation System

Hanna HI10000 fertigation system

Fertigation increases efficiency by delivering water and nutrients directly into the root zone, where they’re most needed. This results in the need for less fertilizer and water. Other potential advantages of fertigation include flexibility, saving on labor and energy costs, and the ability to add nutrients that may be otherwise difficult to apply.

Properly automated commercial greenhouses, hydroponics operations, and agricultural fields will reduce their costs for chemicals and labor while increasing crop yields and health. Hanna has three customizable options to fit any size facility. The Hanna HI10000 Fertilizer Injection System can accommodate flow rates from 1 gallon per minute (GPM) to 350 GPM (or 5 GPM-750 GPM with an expanded manifold) while the HI5000 and HI2500 are available for growers with smaller operations.

This level of flexibility coupled with remote access allows the entire fertigation process to be monitored and controlled from anywhere in the world, saving you time and giving you more freedom.

Using a Fertigation System

Fertilizers have been applied through a wide range of irrigation systems for many years and are the most commonly injected chemicals. Many of the older methods required significant worker contact and trial-and-error techniques. With the introduction of better technology, applying pesticides has become more wide spread as a necessary compliment to fertilizer injection.

Drip and micro-irrigation, prevalent in greenhouses and hydroponic environments, have a characteristic not shared by other irrigation methods; fertigation is not an option but is actually necessary. Fertigation provides the only truly efficient way to apply fertilizers physically to the crop root zone. On high value crops, such as lettuce, tomatoes, and commercially produced potted plants, the level of fertigation management for achieving high yields and qualities exceed what is found with other irrigation methods.

Volumetric Injectors

greenhouse with fertigation system

Volumetric injectors take a small portion of concentrated fertilizer solution from a stock tank and inject it into the water line. For every part of stock solution in the system, there are x parts of water, where x is determined by the injector ratio.

For example, with a 1:100 ratio, one part of stock solution is mixed with 99 parts of water, for a total of 100 parts of final solution. The size of the stock tank varies, and it could be as small as five gallons or as large as 2,000 gallons. Often ratios are expressed as percent. For example, a 1:100 ratio equals a 1%  solution.

Volumetric injectors have been used successfully for a very long time; the technology is old but reliable. However, most injectors are flow driven and don’t take into account the actual chemistry of the irrigation water. In essence they are blind to the actual concentrations of the various fertilizers being injected.

Controlling Injection with Electrical Conductivity

Electrical conductivity (EC) is a measure of a solution’s ability to conduct an electrical current. The conductivity of a solution is largely dependent on the concentration of TDS in it. The relationship between ppm, TDS and EC is usually a factor  between 0.65 and 0.7, depending on your fertilizer formulation.

With a 0.65 factor, a reading of 1 milliSiemen/centimeter (mS/cm) would equal 650 ppm TDS. Most growers use the EC reading exclusively as charted below. Most soluble fertilizers, when dissolved in the irrigation stream, produce an EC reading that’s directly proportional to the concentration of fertilizer present and is expressed as ppm nitrogen.

Fertigation driven by EC measurements lets growers manage crop nutrients at a level that’s nearly impossible to achieve with conventional volumetric practices. The results can include higher yields and better crop quality. Even just a 10% increase in production will translate to increased profits, higher energy efficiency, and more money saved.

Chart: ppm nitrogen concentration

Combining Fertilizer Injection with pH (Alkalinity) Control

Acids have been and always will be an excellent tool for growers. Acids help you gain better control of your irrigation water’s alkalinity (mostly bicarbonates and carbonates), as well as the pH of your growing media. Once the role of alkalinity is understood, you may consider the following step to control alkalinity using acids through your injector system.

Phosphoric, Sulfuric, Nitric, and Citric Acids and When to Use Them

The most commonly available acids are phosphoric, sulfuric, nitric, and citric. The most effective and widely used acid is sulfuric acid; however, this is also one of the most hazardous.

Each type of acid has its pros and cons. For low amounts of alkalinity removal, phosphoric acid may be your acid of choice. However, you need to be careful when using this acid because phosphorus levels will increase. Nitric acid is theoretically ideal because it adds nitrate nitrogen, but it fumes and is highly oxidizing, making it very difficult to handle. Citric acid is a weak organic acid and a solid, making it safer than the other three; but it is much less effective, and therefore more expensive to use.

Once you choose an acid to use, make sure your injector can handle the task. Not only is it important that the materials be acid resistant, the controller must be able to accurately control and maintain a fixed pH over a wide flow range.

The Future of Fertigation and Irrigation Control

The Hanna HI10000 Fertigator & Irrigation Control System

HI10000 Fertigation System

Over 200 Hanna Fertigator systems have been installed across the United States since 2005. Many of these units have been in service for over ten years, with their range of applications spanning hydroponics, living walls, commercial potted plant producers, and high tech growing facilities.

The Hanna HI10000 Fertilizer Injection System precisely monitors and controls fertilizer concentrations and pH for all types of hydroponics, greenhouse, and field agricultural applications. The HI10000 is also a complete irrigation control system with 32 valve (zone) capabilities.

Unlike flow-driven systems of the past, the Hanna Fertigation System continuously measures the actual EC and pH of the flow-through, and precisely adjusts the concentration of fertilizer into the system. The Hanna Fertigation System is a bypass system which will not interfere with your main line flow, and therefore does not impede line flow or pressure.

*Agrolution via http://blog.hannainst.com/fertigation-benefits

Advantages of drip irrigation systems

drip-irrigation

Precise and regulated application of irrigation water and plant nutrients at low pressure and frequent intervals through drippers/emitters directly into the root zone of plant with the help of close network of pipes is known as drip irrigation system.

Advantages

  • Increase in production & productivity.
  • Improves quality and ensure early maturity of the crops.
  • Water Saving up to 40% – 70%.
  • Controls weed growth, saving of fertilizer (30%) and labour cost (10%).
  • Fertigation / Chemigation can be made efficiently.
  • Control diseases.
  • Use of saline water is possible.
  • Soil erosion is eliminated.
  • Suitable for uneven / undulating land.
  • High Water Use Efficiency.
Major Components of Drip Irrigation System
Pump station. By-pass assembly
Control valves Filtration system
Fertilizer tank /Venturi Pressure gauge
Mains / Sub-mains Laterals
Emitting devices Micro tubes
Crops Suitable for Drip Irrigation System
1. Orchard Crops Grapes, Banana, Pomegranate, Orange,
Citrus, Mango, Lemon, Custard Apple, Sapota,
Guava, Pineapple, Coconut, Cashewnut,
Papaya, Aonla, Litchi, Watermelon etc.
2. Vegetables Tomato, Chilly, Capsicum, Cabbage,
Cauliflower, Onion, Okra, Brinjal, Bitter Gourd,
Ridge Gourd, Cucumber, Peas, Spinach,
Pumpkin etc.
3. Cash Crops Sugarcane, Cotton. Arecanut, Strawberry etc.
4. Flowers Rose, Carnation, Gerbera, Anthurium,
Orchids, Jasmine, Dahilia, Marigold etc.
5. Plantation Tea, Rubber, Coffee, Coconut etc.
6. Spices Turmeric, Cloves, Mint etc,
7. Oil Seed Sunflower, Oil palm, Groundnut etc.
8. Forest Crops Teakwood, Bamboo etc.
Response of Different Crops to Drip Irrigation System
Crops Water saving (%) Increase in yield (%)
Banana 45 52
Cauliflower 68 70
Chilly 68 28
Cucumber 56 48
Grapes 48 23
Ground nut 40 152
Pomegranate 45 45
Sugarcane 50 99
Sweet lime 61 50
Tomato 42 60

* Via http://graduatefarmer.co.ke/2017/01/29/advantages-of-drip-irrigation-systems/

Can hi-tech greenhouses feed the world?

In a remote corner of the Australian outback, where temperatures climb above 40 degrees Celsius in summer and fresh water is scarce, Philipp Saumweber is growing vine-ripened tomatoes.

Inside a space-age greenhouse, the former Goldman Sachs banker turned chief executive of Sundrop Farms is producing 16,000 tonnes of truss tomatoes a year. The 20-hectare facility, which he believes is the future of farming, is powered by a concentrated solar thermal plant, which generates most of the energy required to cool the plants and desalinate seawater to irrigate the crops.

“We can play a small part in solving the problem the world faces in feeding an ever growing global population,” says Mr Saumweber, slicing a juicy tomato and handing it over for a taste test.

“You don’t see many others growing crops on the edge of a desert.”

With the global population forecast to rise to 9bn by 2050, growing enough food at low cost is one of the world’s most urgent and complex political problems.

Last year, one in nine of the world’s 7.4bn population were undernourished, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN. In sub-Saharan Africa the rate is far higher: almost a quarter of people go hungry due to the combination of harsh climate, lack of fresh water, poor land, war and poverty.

 

* Agrolution via http://www.hortidaily.com/article/30381/Can-hi-tech-greenhouses-feed-the-world

 

Five reasons to use radiant heating

For many, when planning and designing a greenhouse, heating is a factor that is often overlooked. A traditional forced-air heater and thermostat are all that one really needs, but is this method of greenhouse heating really the best solution? For commercial operations or greenhouses located in areas with more mild winters, the answer is often yes. However, for hobby growers or those in Northern climates, there is a more cost-effective means of heating which provide both plants and growers with a number of benefits: radiant heating.

Radiant heating systems work by radiating heat from a hot surface to cooler surroundings. In greenhouse applications, piping is installed under the structure’s foundation. These pipes are then connected to a hot water heater. When the hot water runs through the system, the air between the greenhouse floor and the structure’s foundation is heated. As hot air rises naturally, the heat can then be felt above the floor and radiates throughout the greenhouse space. This application is ideal for heating an entire greenhouse or for use as under bench heating to supply heat directly to a plants root mat.

Even, Uniform Heat
Perhaps the number one benefit of this heating system is that it provides gentle, uniform heat throughout the greenhouse. Even heat distribution results in fewer cool spots, meaning that more heat remains at the root mat instead of sporadically spreading throughout the greenhouse to fill cold spots. With steady heat, plants are able to thrive, making it possible to keep plants alive throughout the entire year or to start crops earlier in the season.

Energy Savings
Radiant heating is more energy-efficient than alternative methods, such as baseboard and forced-air systems. Traditional forced-air heaters heat from the ceiling down. This creates problems with air circulation and often results in the majority of warm air becoming stuck or escaping at the roof of the greenhouse. Baseboard heaters can heat a space too quickly and carry the risk of overheating crops. As these heaters sit at the bottom of the greenhouse, if crops are placed on a standard height bench or display rack, they may end up being too close to the heat source. Radiant heat systems supply heat to the space surrounding the crops, keeping heat levels uniform at any height.

Year-round production
With uniform levels of heat throughout the greenhouse, there is no limit on the growing season. This gives growers the advantage of bringing out-of-season crops to market, leading to higher demand and increased revenue. This also provides an opportunity to expand to new markets with the appeal of fresh, reliable products year-round. This can bring in new clients, such as local restaurants and grocery stores.

Easy to use
Once a radiant heat system has been installed, there is little maintenance involved and use of the system is very easy. As radiant heat works by supplying warm air to cold space, warm air is distributed evenly throughout the greenhouse. If enough warm air is present in a single location, the heat will radiate to a cooler section of the greenhouse to keep the levels stable. This prevents the worry of overheating plants, while maintaining a constant and stable temperature for the crops to thrive.

Customizable Options
These systems are built by design, meaning that design, application and more are completely customizable. Radiant heating can be installed under a greenhouse foundation to supply heat to the entire greenhouse, or can be installed under benches, offering heat directly to the plants root mat. If used under a concrete table or foundation, installing TekFoil Reflective Insulation can help reduce heat transfer loss. TekFoil Insulation helps to reduce heat loss through radiant heat transfer by up to 97 percent, meaning that small amounts of heat are used more efficiently, reducing operating costs and energy requirements.

* Agrolution via http://www.hortidaily.com/article/31092/Five-reasons-to-use-radiant-heating

Tomato production

Tomato is one of the most important vegetables grown in Kenya. It is a half-hardy, annual sub-tropical fruit vegetable used in salads or cooked as a vegetable, processed into tomato paste, sauce and puree. It is rich in vitamins.

Climatic conditions 

It is fairly adaptable and grows well in warm conditions and optimum temperature of 20- 25oC during the day and 15-17oC at night. High humidity and temperature reduces fruit size and yields while low temperature leads to delayed colour formation and ripening. Wet conditions increases the disease attack and fruit fail to ripen.

Varieties 

Rio grande and Cal-J are good open pollinated varieties, and there are also many good hybrids like Centenario F1 and Moleria with better qualities as shelf life and colour.

Seed rate 

About 200 – 250gm/Ha or 100g per acre of pure germinating seed for nursery, sowing is required. Drenching of the nursery against soil pathogens with products such as Bioactiv and Plant guard, ensures a robust seedling for quick take off (growth and development)

Field Establishment 

Plants can be grown on raised beds or flat land. The recommended spacing is 60cm by 45cm or 90cm by 60cm depending on variety.

Manure and fertiliser application 

Manure is required if soils are poor in organic matter. It should be applied at the rate of 2 handfuls per planting hole and mixed thoroughly with the soil during transplanting. 200 Kg/Ha double super phosphate should also be applied at transplanting and mixed well with the soil. Top dressing with CAN at 100 Kg/Ha should be done when plants are 25cm high. A second application of CAN of 200Kg/Ha four weeks later is beneficial. Nitrogen deficiency will result in small fruits and blossom end rot disease. Application of foliar fertilizers such as Vitabor Gold ensures induction and production of quality flowers with no abortion both of the flower and young fruits. Ferrari Foliar fertiliser when applied at fruiting stage ensures production of big quality fruits with good colour and shelf life.

Before planting tomatoes, the following factors should be considered:-

Location for planting:- Water proximity should be as close as possible to the planting field to avoid added costs of pumping water. Although water tanks can be used and this is specifically suitable when using drip irrigation system.

The previous crop planted:- Tomatoes should not be planted immediately
after potatoes or pepper and a 3 month break should be observed. This is to minimize on risk of diseases and reduce costs on disease management.

Topology:- Gently sloping land is best as it facilitates drainage during rainy periods especially for open air method.

Soil:- The soil should be deep well drained loam. The soil should be prepared well and loosened and broken down well. The optimal pH for tomatoes is around 6-7.5. Soil analysis can be done to determine this and help you come up with the list of required fertilizer to prepare the land. If the pH is low, lime can be used to raise it and if high, gypsum can be used to lower it.

DISEASES, PHYSIOLOGICAL DISORDERS AND PESTS 

Late blight (Phytopthora infestans) 

Occurs under cool and high humidity especially wet conditions. It is characterised by rapid drying of leaves and brown dry rot of fruit. Brown streaks are observed on the stem. Control: Spray with Cadilac 80% WP (40 Gm / 20L water)or Tower 72% WP. Tower is both preventive and curative at 50gm /20Lt., while Cadilac is preventive.

Early blight (Alternaria solani) In tomatoes, it causes stem cankers on seedlings and small irregular dark brown spots on the older leaves leading in partial defoliation of the crop. The fungus survives on the crop debris. Infections begin as small brown spots on older leaves that quickly enlarge. The lesions develop a “bulls-eye” pattern of concentric rings that can be seen.

Control: Field sanitation, crop rotation and foliar spray as in late blight above.

Bacterial cankers (Clavibacter michiganensis) 

This is a seed borne disease whose symptoms are not apparent until the disease is well established. Reduces crop by 90 per cent. Symptoms include wilting and curling of the leaflets of the lower leaves. Dried, whole leaf curls upwards, turns brown and withers but still remains attached to the stem. If affected, young fruits show slight discoloration of the vascular system, deformation and stunting of fruit and seed abortion.

Fusarium wilt, bacterial spot control 

Use of resistant varieties and soil fumigation with copper based fungicides. Manage soil fertility to activate antagonistic microbes with Bioaktiv & Humigreen.

Bacterial wilt (Pseudomonas solanacearum) 

The disease causes wilting of tomatoes and potatoes. In tomatoes it is mainly seed borne.

Control: Control is mainly cultural as: Strict crop rotation, removal and burning of infected plant debris and planting of certified seed.

Damping off Control: Proper spacing in the nursery. 30cm between rows avoids too much crowding between one plant to another. -Drench the nursery with Bioactive, Tower 72 per cent WP or Megaprode lock Proper watering in the nursery avoids water logging. Ensure watering is done in the morning and not late afternoon to avoid wetting at night.

Disorders Blossom end rot:

This is not a pathological disease, but is mainly physiological. It is caused by calcium deficiency. The early sign of the disease is a water soaked spot near the blossom end of the fruit. The surface of the spot becomes dark and leathery but no soft rot develops unless bacteria or fungi invade the spot. Other causes are: Too fast growth during the early stages followed by sudden drought, excessive nitrogen and infrequent irrigation.

Control: Apply Ferrari Gold foliar fertiliser fortnightly and if plant is stressed use Optimiser to help in recovery.

Pests Root knot nematodes 

These are galls and swellings on the roots causing stunting of the plants and eventual death.

Control: Good agricultural practices and chemical controls are used. Planting nematode free seedlings through application of Nematicides. Fertilisers such as plant guard help through facilitating production of beneficial microbes and in production of new root hairs to substitute the damaged or infected ones.

Tobacco white fly 

These are small, white, moth-like flies, which fly from foliage when plants are disturbed. Nymphs suck plants sap from the underside of the leaf. They transmit plant viruses as cowpeas mild mottle viruses (CMMV), cassava mosaic among others.

Control: Easily controlled by the chemicals as Sinophate 75 per cent SP and Presento 200SP.

Mites Red spider mites 

The minute, spider like animals are visible to the naked eye and feed on sap from the underside of the leaves. They cause speckling and tarnishing of the leaves turning yellowish to whitish. The pest has a wide host range including wild plants such as sodom apple and cultivated plants such as cassava and maize.

Control: Controlled by foliar spraying with Escort 19EC

Others include; leaf hoppers and aphids Thrips and cutworms.

Control – spray with Ranger 480EC

American boll worm (Heliothes armigera). 

The caterpillars bore into fruit and feed on the inner of the fruit releasing plenty of excreta which is noticeable.

Control: Spray with Legacy/ Heritage 5%EC (12Ml / 20 Lt water) or Emerald 200SL or Pentagon 5%EC or Escort 19EC (8- 10ml / 20Lt) during and fruit setting.

* Agrolution via http://smartfarmerkenya.com/tomato-production/

How to start a successful agribusiness: Finances

Production is largely a technical process. If you copy the practices of the best farmers and keep abreast of advances in technology, chances are you will also be a good producer. However, there are a number of questions you must ponder before you get started. They include the following:

  1. What kind of farm do you want to start?
  2. What do you know about growing those crops or raising that type of livestock?
  3. What is the production cycle?
  4. What are the key management factors in producing high-quality results?
  5. How is production success measured against the performance of other farmers in the industry?
  6. What level of technology should you use?
  7. What government programmes provide assistance to farmers in this type of venture?

Nothing takes the place of a real, practical experience. If you have no experience in the type of farming you wish to undertake, spend some time with someone already doing it. Farmers are always willing to share their experiences with someone who is keen to learn from them. Find one who can share some management secrets with you. Even if you must volunteer your time, it is well worth the investment. Many financial institutions will not consider your loan application seriously if you cannot demonstrate some practical knowledge. You can also learn a lot from talking to successful farmers and asking extension officers questions.

FARM FINANCES

Record Keeping

If a group of farmers were to asked what task they dislike the most, many of them would probably say: “Doing the bookkeeping!” Unfortunately, you will not find any advice here that will make this chore fun, but it is absolutely essential in ensuring your success in business. Many small business people keep only enough information to satisfy themselves. This practice completely ignores the value of good, timely financial and production records in farm management. How will you know that feed expenses are rising higher than they should be? How will you know if you can afford to buy that new tractor? How will you know if you are making money? Using a record keeping system designed for your business will help you to identify problems and solve them before they become unmanageable. These systems do not have to be complicated or expensive – in fact, a notebook with different pages for each of your income and expense accounts, may be all you need. More likely, however, you will want to have a system that also keeps track of your production assets, liabilities and ownership investment. There are many bookkeeping/ accounting software packages on the market that make this task easier and allow you to receive the management reports needed to make good decisions. Do not hesitate to ask for help from an accountant or bookkeeper, especially as you set up your system. They can give you advice that can save you time and money in the long run. Do not fret. You should consider this an investment in the business, which is every bit as important as that new cow shed or tractor.

Budgeting

Farming is a business with plenty of uncertainties and unknowns. How will the weather affect the crops? What will the interest rates be next year? Will the prices of my product be higher or lower than last year? Despite these questions and regardless of the size of your farm, budgeting is an important tool in successfully managing the business. Most businesses have a five-year budget to plan long-term expenditure on equipment, land and buildings. The first year is very detailed and is used to control expenditure and identify financing requirements. But you have more important questions to answer before getting into farming. Can you afford to buy or start a farm? How much money will you need to borrow for the farm and the first few years of operation? What size farm do you need to provide the income you wish to have? The most honest answer right now to these and many other questions is: “I don’t know!” It is necessary to develop projected financial statements. They include balance sheets, cash flows and income and expense statements. Depending on the type of farm business you plan to have, the projections should be five or more years into the future. For example, an apple farm starting from scratch requires statements for eight to 10 years since it takes four to five years before a new orchard starts producing.

Balance Sheet

A Balance Sheet is a summary of what your business owns (assets) and how those items were financed (liabilities and equity). It is ‘balanced’ because assets = liabilities + equity The first balance sheet you prepare should represent your financial state on the first day of business. At the end of each projected year of business, another balance sheet should be prepared based on the cash flow and income statements of each of those periods.

Cash Flow Statement

The cash flow statement is simply a projection of the timing and amount of cash flowing into the business from all sources, including loans, sales, government grants and owner’s contributions, and the timing and amount of cash flowing out of the business in operating expenses, capital purchases, loan payments and withdrawals for living costs. These statements are prepared for each year divided into weekly, monthly (most common) or quarterly periods. Many farmers will project cash flow out to five years. These projections are necessary to determine if sufficient cash will be generated and available from the business to cover expenditure. The time and amount of cash deficits can thus be measured and you can then negotiate an operating line of credit at the bank or other lending institution well ahead of time. The cash flow also provides information on cash balance, operating loan and equity adjustments for the balance sheets.

Income and Expense Statement

The final statement needed to complete the trio of financial records used to project the business into the future is the Income and Expense Statement (more commonly called the Income Statement). It provides an estimate of the net income for each year of the business. Although many of the items in this statement are included in the cash flow, it is important to recognize that the calculation of net income includes some non-cash items, such as depreciation on buildings and equipment, and excludes some cash items, such as principal payments on loans, capital purchases and sales and owner’s withdrawals.

Financial Analysis

Simply preparing the series of statements is not enough. You need to analyse the results to ensure that you are within reasonable parameters in progress towards your goals. Once you are in business these same techniques are used to analyse past performance, too. The three most important areas for analysis are liquidity, solvency and profitability.

Via: http://smartfarmerkenya.com/how-to-start-a-successful-agribusiness-production/

 

HOW TO CALCULATE THE PRICE OF A GREENHOUSE?

One of the most common questions in the sector and more difficult to answer, usually is: How much does it cost a greenhouse? Well, to calculate the price of a greenhouse is necessary to have an initial basic information:

  • Climate of the area.
  • Dimensions of the project.
  • Type of crop.
  • Equipment and technology.

Exterior invernadero    Invernadero interior

CLIMATE OF THE AREA

Depending on the climate where the greenhouse will be built, we will study what greenhouse model is the best suited to the climatic conditions of the area. There are several types of greenhouses, in structure and equipment, therefore may be a considerable difference in the price of the greenhouse depending on the structure design and the loads that may support. To prepare a good quotation we need to study the temperature, humidity, wind, snow, solar radiation and other environmental factors.

DIMENSIONS OF THE PROJECT

It is essential to indicate the surface and the form that the project is going to have to assess the price of a greenhouse. It’s not the same if the greenhouse has an irregular shape that if it has a regular shape. All details that the customer provides, crop area, location, etc., will be helpful for the study of the project in our Engineering Department.

TYPE OF CROP

Depending on the product to be grown in the greenhouse, you can change the model of the structure, the distance between crop lines or different special accessories for this type of crop, consequently there will be a difference in the price of the greenhouse. There are crops that have similar production and growth, but other types of crops need a reinforced structure and special equipment.

EQUIPMENT Y TECHNOLOGY

Depending on the technology that we want to install in the project, it will be affected the price of the greenhouse. A greenhouse can be installed with different equipment, such as: ventilation, heating, cooling system, air fog, screen shading, irrigation, hydroponic systems, artificial lighting, carbon dioxide supply, automation, etc.

interior invernadero

These initial basic characteristics and other data that will be studied for the project, will set the price of the greenhouse.

*Agrolution via http://www.jhuete.com/price-greenhouse/?utm_content=buffer82b0f&utm_medium=social&utm_source=linkedin.com&utm_campaign=buffer