If you get it, Kiwi fruit can make you wealthy
MONEY & MARKET
By Jennifer Anyango | October 30th 2021
MONEY & MARKET
There are very few markets where demand exceeds supply, one such market is for Kiwi fruits which is a relatively new idea in Kenya. The fruit which is also called the ‘Chinese goose berry’ is another source of important vitamins such as C, K and E that are deficient in many other fruits. David Kimani who grows the fruit in Imenti in Meru has discovered its health benefits and market opportunity. So, how do you go about it? Kiwi is a temperate fruit and can do well in the temperate regions of Kenya like Central, parts of Western, and parts of the Rift Valley. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to go about it.
Kimani says the soil must be well-drained. Kiwi tree vines planted where water sits on the surface following rains are likely to develop crown rot. Soil pH should be between 5.0 and 6.5.
Kiwi can be propagated either from seed or stem cuttings, though cuttings are preferred because it enables the plant to establish faster and encourage early maturity. Planting is best done around the month of March to take advantage of the long rains. Farmers should keep in mind that Kiwi is a climbing plant and needs support until they are properly established, a trellis system is preferred.
“Kiwi is dioecious, meaning it is hard to identify if a plant is either male or female until they start flowering. One has to grow several plants to increase the probability of having both,” says Kimani.
Use compost manure and some little amounts of fertiliser (DAP and CAN) to provide the crop with adequate nutrients.
Plants seedlings not more than 35 feet away to make pollination easier. This is because male and female plants grow separately. One male plant can fertilise the flowers of eight or so females.
“Do not be shocked if female flowers have stamens (male flower parts). The stamens are there, but the pollen they shed is sterile. Similarly, male flowers have small, nonfunctional ovaries,” he says.
Prunes helps to make tangled shoots manageable and easy to harvest and allow light reach the plants. An established kiwi tree vine consists of a trunk, permanent cordons, and fruiting arms.
A mature kiwifruit vine can produce more than 90 kilogrammes of fruit. Harvest semi-tropical kiwi fruits by snapping them off their stalks when the skins turn brown and samples of cut fruit show black seeds.
According to Kimani, on an eighth of an acre, a farmer can plant 50 kiwi fruit trees. One fruit retails at Sh100.
“A tree can bear fruit for 12 to 15 years and take less than two years to start fruiting. It can be embraced by small-scale farmers with small land sizes. It is less labour intensive and inter-cropping with plants such as potato, ginger and asparagus is allowed,” says Kimani.
Kiwi fruits can last over six months after harvesting when stored in a cool place.
Kimani does sales mostly on orders. “These mostly are from restaurants and those who have fresh produce shops and sell juices and salads,” he says.
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