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Demand for the eggplant is rising not only in markets in Kenya but also in neighbouring countries

The Asian crop comes in different colours that include white, purple and green, adding aesthetic value to oneโ€™s farm. The purple variety is the commonest.

Locally, eggplant is known as biringanya but its other names are brinjal, garden egg and guinea squash.

Eggplants belong to a family of vegetables, which also includes tomatoes and Irish potatoes. They grow in a manner much like tomatoes, hanging from the vines of a plant that grows several feet in height.

In Kenya production is done throughout the year and the bulk of the crop is exported. The fruits of the white varieties have medicinal value for diabetics. Eggplant has a cropping period of 4-7 months. In Kenya they are normally planted from beginning of June to end of December to correspond with the export season from October to May.

Varieties
Black beautyEarly long purpleFluoride bush

Seed rate
18,519 plants/ha

Fertilizer Rate
200kg of phosphate per hectare200kg/ha of CAN as topdressing when plants are 25cm high.ย  Topdressing six weeks later with 200kg/ha CAN

Planting spacing
90 cm x 60cm

Husbandly
Eggplant is normally propagated by seed and also by rooting of healthy shoots. Soaking the seeds in water for 24 hours speeds up germination. Transplant by digging a hole deep enough to bury a plant so that its first true leaf is just above the soil surface. Irrigate furrows immediately after transplanting. Side dressing with groundnut cake is recommended 40 days after transplanting. Also at this period, remove three nodes at the tips of the plants to improve branching and to increase the number of fruits. Weed control should be shallow, to avoid damage to the roots. Tall-growing cultivars will also require support. Mulching with dried plant materials reduces moisture loss and weed problems.

Expected Duration from Planting to Harvesting
2.5 โ€“ 3.5 months

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Climatic condition
Optimum day temperatures are 25-35ยฐC and night temperatures from 20-27ยฐC. It does not tolerate frost. It is tolerant to drought and excessive rainfall. It does best in well-drained, sandy loam soils and lowland (below 800m) areas with relatively little temperature variation. The pH requirements range from 6 to 7 with the optimum being pH 6.4.

Soil and fertility
Eggplant can be successfully grown in well-drained sandy loam, loam, or clay loam soils near the swamps. Farmers should cover the crops and plough under at least onr month before planting to allow time for the cover crop to decompose.

To avoid potential soil-borne disease and nematode problems, farmers should plant eggplant in soils that have not grown a crop of tomatoes, peppers, Irish potatoes, or eggplants in the past two to three years.

Timely and appropriate applications of fertiliser can make a significant difference in the quality and quantity of fruit and can promote earlier harvests.

Harvesting
The fruits of the eggplant can be harvested any time after they have reached sufficient size for your intended market.
In any case, be sure to harvest fruit before their flesh becomes tough and their seeds begin to harden.

The fruit can be harvested by breaking them from the plants. However, to avoid damaging the plants, it is best to cut fruit off with a knife or pruning shears, being sure to leave the calyx (cap end) attached to the fruit.

Business case
Income Per Hectare: Kshs 450,000 (15,000kgs * 30/-)Cost per Hectare: Kshs. 180,000 (40% of Income).NET:ย ย ย  Kshs. 270,000 (60% of Income).

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Break Even Yield (Where Cost=Income): = 6000 kgs per hectare.

Income Frequency: Twice per year. Thrice under irrigation.

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