Kenya has been experiencing erratic weather conditions in recent years; causing a lot of despair to farmers who no longer know what to plant, and at what season.
The unpredictability nature of the weather now presents an opportunity for farmers to get out of their comfort zones and try out new crops.
We present to you basic information about red chilli farming that will guide you as you explore new opportunities.
Chilli cultivation is better suited for areas that experience a lot of heat and has better proceeds.
How to grow your chilli
Kenya has a number of Chilli varieties that are best for most areas around the country. The common chilli varieties include Cayenne Pepper, Bird Eye, Jalapeno, Serenade, Habareno among others.
They require a rainfall of 600-1200 mm annually. Nevertheless, irrigation maybe carried out in the dry areas. Chilli farming thrives in a wide range of altitudes; but temperatures ranging between 25- 30°C are most favorable for the growth and setting of the fruit. The warmer the weather conditions the hotter the chilli.
With proper soil management, chilli can do well in a wide range of soil types. Clay loam and loam soils are best suited for chilli farming. The soil must be well drained and well aerated. Acidic soils are not suitable for chilli cultivation.
Chilli pepper requires full sun and moisture. The optimum soil pH for your chilies is 5.5 to 6.8, which is an optimum range for most crops in Kenya, including maize. The advantage is that chilli grows very well with limited amounts of water.
Experts warn against the use of fertilizer that contains high amounts of nitrogen because they cause the plant to produce lots of leaves and less pepper. Compost manure is most preferred for the crop.
Chilli yield per acre
As a great source of vitamin A, Vitamin C and Vitamin B complex as well as minerals such as manganese, iron, potassium and magnesium, chilli farming is one of the many profitable farming ventures we have in the country today. One acre of land can produce up to an average of 300kg twice a week. With the current market prices, the same will earn the farmer Sh24,000 per picking, which translates to Sh48,000 per week.