There are very few markets where demand exceeds supply. One such market is for Kiwi fruits. It is a relatively untapped fruit that continues to take the market by storm. There are very few farmers who have gotten wind of its valued benefits and you can take advantage of this loophole to make a timely investment.
Here are the tips on what you need to consider for Kiwi Farming:
- Land suitability
Kiwi vines do well in temperate regions such as Central, Uasin Gishu, parts of Kajiado and Western highlands. For the fruit to thrive, the soil needs to be well drained and have a pH value of 5.5 – 7.0.
You can start with at least an eighth piece of land whether leased or owned, where land preparation would cost you approximately Ksh. 10,000. To set the plant, you can use at least one male plant for every five to eight female plants to maximize on production.
- Getting the seedlings
Kiwi seedlings are quite rare to find but with a bit of searching, you can always find them at local nurseries or online sites where a single seedling can range between Ksh 250 – Ksh 500.
Because kiwi seedlings mature after two years, you can opt to get kiwi vines that are ready for transplanting. This is likely to retail from Ksh 500 and above. Depending on the size of land, you can choose the seedling or vines route.
- Caring for the plant
A kiwi plant can grow up to 10 – 15 feet tall. Therefore, you will need to avoid planting in windy spots as the wind can stress and break the vines. It is advisable to build temporary fences and tie the stems so the vines can have support.
Prepare compost manure and invest in fertilizers that are rich in phosphorus to provide the crop with adequate nutrients. Ensure the soil is evenly moist throughout the growing season to prevent the fruit from dropping or under developing.
This can be achieved through mulching which conserves soil moisture and reduce weeds. You can also mulch with the aged compost manure or organic fertilizer.
- Pests and disease control
Kiwi plants are susceptible to a bacterial disease known as Pseudomonas syringae pv. Actinidiae (Psa) that affects the fruit and vine but has no risk to humans. Look out for buds and flowers rotting or withering, leaves and plants wilting, red or white ooze to form on the undersides of leaves, twigs and trunk. Stay ready with a biochemical or call your agronomist to assist.
On average, a kiwi vine takes 2 – 3 years to mature and start producing fruits. Ultimately, it also takes 7 years to reach full fruiting potential. The good thing is that, a kiwi fruit has a life span of more than 50 years. So, its investment is one to look out for.
However, you can still commercialize your farm at this time by selling the few fruits that are produced, and the healthy vines that you may choose to propagate and especially bought by new farmers.
- Market Value
The uptake of kiwi fruit is increasing and the local market is currently under-served as there are few farmers who have taken up this idea. Create your market network early. This can be done online, selling to local traders and even approaching supermarkets, food marts and restaurants.
A single kiwi fruit can retail between Ksh 100 – Ksh 150 while a pack of 6 in a supermarket will range between Ksh. 450 – Ksh. 500. If you’re start-up capital was Ksh. 50,000 on an eighth of an acre, by the time you harvest in the early years, you are likely to harvest at least 5,000 fruits. If the market value at the time is still Ksh. 100 per fruit, you will have sales of Ksh. 500,000 and a profit of Ksh. 450,000.
Note that, upon full maturity of the plant, a single vine can produce between 60-80 fruits. That means at least an upward of 18,000 -20,000 fruits every harvest. In the long run, this is a medium to long term invest and 7 years is a shorter period to start making huge profits.