Site Location: Kinanie, AthiRiver, Macahakos County
Structures: 13x30M Greenhouse Unit
13x30M Shadenet Unit
This is the Story of an outdoor farmer who got funding due to his passion for strawberry farming evident from his previous farm in Thika where he practised outdoor farming. The fund administrator says this was the major criterion that afforded him funding from the NGO. The fund administrator noted that it was his passion to get into greenhouse and shade net farming that convinced the NGO to fund the project.
This type of funding sees the company directly pay for all services and equipments needed by the farmer thus reduces chances of fund mismanagement. This is where Illuminum Greenhouses came in with the Greenhouse and ShadeNet Construction part. The two structures were constructed side by side over a span of around 2 weeks. The farm is situated just beside Athi River, providing enough water to the hundreds of farmers along the river. We were treated to a rare spectacle of a variety of horticultural crops around Kinanie area . This is attributed to the extensive irrigation activities ongoing in the area. Use of diesel water pumps has seen the area share water resource in an elaborate and unique way. The extensive piping lay out covers a large area with farmers sharing the water in intervals some of whome are already practicing greenhouse and shade net farming. On the other side of the river, we see huge greenhouse structures belonging to flower-export companies that still make use of the water.
A major hurdle faced by farmers that we actually also witnessed during construction is the hippo population in the river. Working after 6pm was a no-no as advised by the locals. Hippos have brought extensive damage to crops and also death when locals confront them. Use of natural thorns and cacti is the fencing used by farmers to protect their farms.
Back to our site, the construction of both greenhouse and shade net farming unit was more of a test procedure to see the viability of strawberries in both. The outcome: Strawberries in the shadenet came up much faster and healthier compared to those in the greenhouse unit. Even though we had insect netting on the side of the greenhouse, the heat in the greenhouse proved to be too high for the crop. This resulted in alteration of the structure by removal of the roof polythene and replacing it with shadenet. Further, the side of the greenhouse was done away with connecting the two structures together. This resulted in better air flow and improvement in the greenhouse lot.
From our experience we got to learn:
- Greenhouse or shade net farming of strawberries causes fruiting up to a month earlier than usual.When growing strawberries indoors it’s best to plant each strawberry plant into a 15cm (6″) pot/Soil bag of general multipurpose compost.
- We also learnt that high temperatures inhibit flowering. for this proper ventilation is required.
- Further, In the case of lack of strong winds, farmers also need to pollinate the flowers by hand. To do this, lightly brush a soft paint brush around the central yellow part of each of the flowers.
- Important: Feeding of plants with a balanced fertiliser every two weeks until flowering begins, at which point you should switch to a high potash liquid fertiliser for the best fruiting.
- Enough water is crucial for proper fruit development.
Project carried out by Illuminum Greenhouses Kenya
To get more information on Greenhouse/shade net farming email firstname.lastname@example.org