If you are planning to start cultivating guavas for commercial purposes, you may want to think again after reading this.
Guava, commonly known as mapera remains amongst the most untapped ventures practiced in Kenya. The fruit is quite common in rural areas across all the agro-ecological regions in the wild and on farms. Although the guava trees mostly grow naturally and require minimal care from farmers, the maturity period concerns me. A farmer will have to wait for eight years before starting to harvest and sell the fruits.
Research by the Horticultural Crops Directorate (HCD, Kenya) indicates that the fruit is mainly consumed at the household level. The report point out that there is limited research and development aimed at the commercialization of the crop thus hindering the establishment and improvement of structured guava value chains in Kenya.
Farmers should also beware of the high postharvest losses. This is because the adoption of postharvest technologies remains low, resulting to frustrations on farmers who are dependent on its produce.
The guava post-harvest losses in Kenya remain unaccounted for. This may be attributed to the fruit not being considered as rewarding in comparison to other fruits such as mangoes and avocadoes. Furthermore, farmers rarely, if ever, plant the guava fruit for purposes of income generation.
To avoid these post-harvest losses, a farmer must handle the fruit with care during harvesting. This will reduce bruising, scratching, and punctures. Protecting the crops from injury can minimize pest attacks and physiological and dehydration damage. The harvest should preferably be done early in the morning.
When it comes to sorting and cleaning, farmers are advised to separate the higher and lower quality of this fruit. This will ensure the fruits are protected from fungi or bacteria which is easily spread from the damaged crops.
To maintain its freshness and prevent deterioration of the quality, farmers are advised to ensure proper packaging, especially during transportation. The packaging material should be clean, smooth, and well ventilated. When transporting, the vehicle should be well ventilated, clean, and cool since the perishable fruit tends to react with heat. Therefore, farmers are advised to transport the fruit during the cooler hours of the day.
Farmers should as well pay attention to the smoothness of the road since excessive vibration and movement can degrade the quality of the crop. Some farmers tend to water their crops to maintain their freshness. However, it’s highly discouraged since it increases fruit decay.
With this in mind, if farmers take into consideration and carefully follow the measures outlined, fresh guavas can last 10-20 days, provided there is no ethylene gas around the crop. Ethylene gas is a colourless gas that expedites the ripening of any fruit and is found mostly in bananas.
Finally, the guava tree leaves and the barks have been traditionally used to treat various ailments. They contain phytochemicals and natural antioxidants that are used to counter chronic diseases. The leaves and the bark contain anticancer and antidiabetic properties which reduce age-linked diseases and as well prevent liver injuries due to their antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties.
As a farmer, you now know what’s on the table as far as guavas are concerned, the ball is in your court.