Capsicum, popularly known as pilipili hoho, is a short term vegetable crop mainly used to add spicy flavours and essential nutrients to meals. Capsicum provides essential health benefits and diet to the body. It keeps the heart healthy, it is rich in vitamin B6 which is important for formation of red blood cells thus reducing the risk of heart diseases. It is low in fat thus improves metabolism and aids in weight loss. Additionally, capsicum lowers the risk of cancer through its rich antioxidant content.

Capsicums are categorized into various categories based on their vibrant colours. Green capsicum is a widely grown and consumed variety in Kenya. Other varieties include: yellow, red, purple and white capsicum. The green variety is mostly grown outdoors while the others are grown in green houses as they require optimum temperature to develop and change colour.

History of capsicum

Capsicum was discovered in pottery from Puebla, the current Mexico and has been used over the decades around the world. They are native to central and South America and are also a good source of dietary fibre, Vitamin B6, E, folate and rich in antioxidants.

Something that most people don’t know is that the sweetness of capsicums is due to their natural sugars (green capsicums have less sugar than red capsicums). Nevertheless, they can be eaten raw or cooked depending on one’s taste and preference.

Conditions for growing capsicum in Kenya

Soils: Capsicum requires well drained deep loam soil rich in organic matter with an ideal soil pH between 5.2 and 7. This provides the conditions necessary for the crop to thrive.

Climate: Capsicums thrive well in temperature between 15oC and 37oC. Temperatures below 12o
C can lead to blight attack on capsicum leaves while high temperatures might lead to pre-mature growth of capsicum fruits.

Moderate annual rainfall between 700mm and 1200mm is suitable for capsicum production. Irrigation is required where rainfall is below 700mm. Too much rainfall can smother the capsicum roots as well as cause rotting of capsicum fruits during maturity stage.

It is therefore advisable to grow capsicum preferably during short rain seasons; April June and  August-December. Moderate sunshine is vital for the growth and development of capsicum plant  leaves and fruiting.

==

In Capsicum production, the yields are dependent on several factors mainly the variety and the Nutrition program used. To attain high yields, a farmer has to not only look at ensuring the fruits are of bigger size but ensure the harvesting period is prolonged.

This longer production period of uniform high-quality fruits (Right shape, size, color and shelf life) is essential for profitable Capsicums Farming.

The type of fertilizer applied and the stage (time) of application is key in ensuring that the nutrients are available ‘just in time’ for plant uptake.

Capsicums will generally do well at a PH range of 5.5-6.8 hence important to ameliorate your soils accordingly or at least avoid the commonly highly acidifying fertilizer products for sustainable use of our soils.. Like all other crops, a balanced Nutrient Supply is needed for optimum productivity and profitability.

Methods of cupsicum farming in Kenya

There are two ways to farm capsicum. The first way is through open ground farming and the second alternative is through greenhouse. The greenhouse option is more popular because it yields better harvests and minimizes on usage of pesticides and fungicides although it’s a bit expensive to set up. Open ground farming on the other hand isn’t all that bad either, it’s cheaper to set up and productivity can still be improved by tweaking a few things here and there.

Open Field Capsicum Farming

To practice open ground farming you will require a fertile piece of land preferably in an area that receives adequate rain and is neither too hot nor too cold (20 – 25 degrees centigrade). Most parts of Central Kenya, Central Rift Valley, Western and Nairobi meet these conditions. Then you will till the land. Get some seeds from the agrovet and plant them in a nursery before transferring them to the farm. You will need to have a consistent supply of water and labour to ensure that your farm is well taken care of and that production is optimized.

capsicum farming in kenya.

Capsicum Seeds – 0.5Kg/Ha Cost: Ksh2,000

DAP Fertilizer – 25Kg Cost: Ksh2,500

NPK/CAN Fertilizer – 50Kg Cost: Ksh4,000

Manure Compost – Ksh200 per Bag

Pesticides and Fungicides – Ksh5,000

Water supply and drip irrigation – Ksh30,000

Labour and Others – Ksh10,000

RECOMMENDED BUDGET: Ksh 50,000

This arrangement can yield 120 Kilograms of healthy capsicum per week on less than a quarter acre of land or up to 800Kilograms over the entire harvesting season.

Greenhouse Capsicums Farming

Greenhouse farming is hailed for its benefits particularly in improving the quality of produce and maximizing on value per acreage. To use this strategy you will need to invest a good 8meter by 15 meter greenhouse with drip irrigation pipes incorporated. You can order one from Amiran or other local contractors. Under this formula your spending will be something like this:

Farmers Trend

Capsicum Seeds – 0.5Kg/Ha Cost:Ksh2,000

NPK/CAN Fertilizer – 50Kg Cost:Ksh4,000

Manure Compost – Ksh200 per Bag

Pesticides and Fungicides – Ksh5,000

Water storage and supply – Ksh20,000

Labour and Others – Ksh10,000

Complete Greenhouse – Ksh180,000

RECOMMENDED BUDGET: Ksh230,000

A greenhouse will boost production, reduce water consumption, prevent most of the common capsicum diseases and most importantly enhance quality. A capsicum fruit from a greenhouse is easy to distinguish and it easily finds market both locally and internationally. A well maintained greenhouse structure of 8meters by 15 meters can yield 180Kilograms on average per week or 1250Kilograms per harvesting season.

Irrigation

In dry areas, irrigation should be practised to maintain high yields. Capsicums consume 600-750mm of moisture. Irrigation should be done in drip or furrow form.
Sprinkler irrigation encourages fungal diseases. Capsicums are sensitive to water stress. If water stress occurs during flowering and fruiting time, it causes flower drop and fruit abortion.
Hence, frequent irrigation is necessary to maintain vegetative and reproductive growth.
Weeding
Keep the field weed-free during the entire growing period because weeds compete with the capsicum and this may lead to reduction of the yields.
However, weeding during flowering should be minimised as this leads to flower drop. The weeds can be uprooted.
Remember that weeds can also harbour pests, which will then attack the capsicum. Practice crop rotation to prevent accumulation of pests and diseases.
This should be done with crops which do not belong to the Solanaceae family.

Diseases of capsicum

Late blight
This is a fungal disease that is very destructive.
SymptomsIrregular greenish black water-soaked spots on leaves, which enlarge with time. Appearance of white mycelia growth on lower side of leaves.
Development of small greyish green water soaked areas that enlarge to cover half of the fruit. Severe defoliation and rotting of fruits.
ControlCopper-based fungicides, use of clean seeds and growing media and ensuring good aeration on canopy.
Early blight
It is a fungal disease that is also quite common.
SymptomsCanker and collar rot on stems of seedlings and young plants in the field. Development of spots on the leaves that may partly defoliate the plants and greatly reduce yields and fruit quality.
The spots first form on older leaves and enlarge to a diameter of 0.6-1.25cm. Stems develop dark slightly sunken areas that enlarge and become circular or elongated with light centres and fruit abortion may occur.
On older fruits, dark leathery sunken spots develop at the point of attachment to the stem.
Control: Copper fungicides, seed treatment and crop rotation.
Bacterial wilt
It is characterised by rapid wilting of the plant (more rapid than fusarium wilt). If the stem is cut, a slimy substance oozes out and the pith may be dark or water-soaked in appearance.
Pathogen is soil-borne but may also be introduced through irrigation water and trash.
Control: Rotation (4-5 years), rouging and field hygiene.
Pests
Cutworms
They attack only seedlings by cutting off the stems at or just below the soil surface.
ControlCultivate to disturb the places they spend time during dry periods, use of insecticides and use of cutworm collars.
Green peach aphids
These aphids are usually light-green and soft-bodied. They cluster on leaf undersides or on stems. Aphids excrete a sticky liquid called honeydew, which creates spots on foliage.
A black fungus, sooty mould may then grow on the honeydew. Severe infestations can cause wilting, stunting, curly and leaf distortion.
ControlUse of predators to feed on the aphids and use of insecticides.
Leafhoppers
Leafhoppers are small, sap-sacking insects. Attacked capsicums have the tips of leaves turning yellow to brown and becoming brittle. Control by immediately removing infested plants or parts.
Leaf miners
The larvae are the most destructive. They make long-winding mines under the leaf epidermis. The infected leaves are blotchy. Control by removing infected leaves.
Mites and whiteflies
They suck sap mostly from the underside of the leaves and also transmit viruses. Control by use of insecticides or yellow sticky traps

Is Capsicums Farming In Kenya A Profitable Venture?

Capsicum farming’s returns like in any other business depend on how well you manage the farm. A well managed open farm (1/8 acre) can produce Ksh64,000 per season while a smaller greenhouse structure can produce Ksh100,000 per season.

The secret to succeeding in this business lies in maximizing the available space. For instance, you can put two greenhouses on a 1/8 th acre plot and that will give you about Ksh200,000 per season. You can keep adding more greenhouses as your investment grows and as you seek to tap into crop rotation.

In short, the success or failure in this business depends on how big your dreams are. You can start small with an open farm and then scale up to greenhouse after the first one year. As with any other business, the secret is patience.

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating / 5. Vote count:

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

As you found this post useful...

Follow us on social media!