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Thursday, 16 January 2014

Kanyuka farmers diversify to horticulture farming

By Bob Aston 

Horticulture farming in Kenya has been on the rise in recent past. More farmers have diversified their activities by venturing into the field. Farmers in Kanyuka village in Ng’arua Division, Laikipia County, have not been left behind.
Charity at her farm in Kanyuka
Charity Wanjiku says that tomato farming is doing well in the area as the climate is conducive for the crop. They access plenty of water from Kanyuka dam to irrigate their farms.
“I have been a farmer for a long time, I was initially concentrating on maize production but three years ago I started planting tomatoes. It requires a lot of capital but the returns are great,” said Charity.

Tomatoes are botanical fruits, though they are widely considered as vegetable for culinary skills.
Tomatoes are said to be rich in Vitamin A, B and C, they are said to be fat free as well as being low in sodium. Tomatoes are also packed with phytonutrients, including lycopene, an antioxidant that protects body cells from damage. Tomatoes are also said to contain an array of nutrients that work to lower cholesterol and prevent heart diseases.
‘I have been able to take care of my family and even pay school fees for my children from my farm proceeds. Farming has really helped people living in this area,” said Charity.
Tomatoes do well in an altitude range of 0-2100 m and in places with annual rainfall between 760 and 1300 mm. They also need a fertile, deep and well drained soil.
Some of the farmers planting tomatoes
Tomatoes may be affected by diseases during heavy rainfall, maturity period is also prolonged. Most tomato farms in the area are currently infected with tomato blight. Some tomatoes now appear sunken, they have also developed dark green or brown lesion on leaves and stems
“We go for tomato varieties with early blight resistance or tolerance but despite this the tomatoes will still end up being infected with tomato blight,” said Charity.
Currently a crate of tomato is said to be fetching between Ksh 3,400 -4,600 in Nairobi and Nakuru. Charity is expecting to harvest her tomatoes in April when the price will be high. A crate of tomatoes is expected to fetch Ksh 7,000 during that period.
 “Farmers here normally come together to fill a lorry with tomatoes then we either transport them to Nairobi or Nakuru,” said Charity.
Charity believes that the future of horticulture is bright. She is now looking forward to increase her farm production as she looks for more training on farming.
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