Pomegranate ( L.) is one of the oldest known edible fruits and is capable of growing in different agro-climates ranging from tropical to temperate regions of the world. However, its major cultivation is confined in tropical and sub-tropical regions. It is presumed that pomegranate was domesticated in the Middle East about 5000 years ago. Interestingly, it is considered to be one of the first five domesticated edible fruit crops along with fig, date palm, grape and olive.

pomegranate farming in kenya

A few farmers in Kenya are actively practicing pomegranate fruits variety farming. For instance, in Murang`a, there’s a corporation known as the Murang`a County healthful Plants Initiative that’s committed to giving recommendation to farmers and purchasers in pomegranate fruits.

Conditions that favour Pomegranate Farming In Kenya

Pomegranate trees in Kenya sometimes grow in tropical areas, and they conjointly grow in cold areas, however they must be protected against extreme cold and frost. However, pomegranate trees in Kenya like the sun. This pomegranate may be a notably thorny plant with tiny waxy leaves and it’s a hardy plant. They can do best in any area in Kenya whether arid or semi-arid. High temperatures tend to boost the flavor of the fruit. This Pomegranate plant in Kenya will do well in clay, sand, silt and gravel soils.

Pomegranate farmers in Kenya may place plant food on the plant to extend production and fruit count. One pomegranate fruit in Kenya retails at about kshs 150 to kshs 400. The pomegranate fruits are terribly expensive in Kenya, and as long as one tree produces a mean of twenty-five fruits per season, this is often a really viable venture in Kenya.

This pomegranate fruit farming in Kenya may be a possible plan, since one doesn’t require plenty of area per tree and if well taken care of, the fruits are going to be massive. The pomegranate farming has taken root in Kenya, and the public are suggested to consider the farming as a supply of financial gain and a tool of assuaging poorness in most areas of Kenya.

Farming may be a terribly spirited business in Kenya and people in United Nations agency invest their time, energy and cash on that, and they are smiling all the way to the bank. Folks in Kenya are appallingly health aware during this day and age, and if one would center their tiny scale or giant scale business in Kenya here, it’s a distinct segment.

Well those that have started the Pomegranate farming in Kenya claim that it’s not capital intensive since all you wish to try to do is get the seed or cuttings of pomegranate, plant it and pay attention of it, and in a very few months the returns are huge.

Varieties of pomegranate in Kenya

There are numerous pomegranate cultivars found in different countries and they are grouped based on the taste, time of harvest and seed hardness. In relation to taste, they are classified as sweet, sweet-sour, sour and in terms of time of harvesting, they are classified as early, average and late. Based on hardiness, they are classified as soft or hard seeded.

Pomegranate Seedling

Pomegranate varieties that perform well in Kenya include;

  • Kandhari
  • Ganesh
  • Jyothi
  • Mradula
  • Bhagwa
  • Jalore Seedless
  • Phule Arakta
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Propagation

Vegetative methods of propagation, especially air-layering and stem cutting are common. However, in major pomegranate growing areas air-layering is most popular. In Kenya seed and cutting propagation are common though cutting is the most preferred.

1. Propagation by seed

Sexual propagation of pomegranate is the method used to crossbreed pomegranate varieties. Meaning that the trees produced from seeds will have different genotypes which may show some desirable traits while others bring undesirable traits due to cross pollination.

For commercial production, pomegranates are not propagated through seeds because they do not come as true variety and such seedlings produces fruits which have wide varying characteristics. Examples include fruits from small to large size, woody to juicy, fruit colour ranging from dark red or purple and the taste from sweet to sour.

Propagation through seeds involves first drying seeds from a selected fruit for two weeks and once they become very dry, they are sown immediately. If the seeds are to be kept for late planting; after drying they are stored in a sealed container inside a refrigerator. Seed germination is faster for varieties which possess soft seeds than those which produce hard seeds. Soil temperature also determines the time for the seed to germinate and fast germination is promoted by high soil temperatures.

2. Propagation by grafting and layering

Successful pomegranate propagation can achieved through grafting using cleft grafts,
wedge grafts, whip and tongue grafts. However, grafting is not an ideal method because it has a very low chance of success due to a stem which is not strong. The bark can bulge which will cause breaking of the scion during fruit bearing. Grafting as a method of propagating pomegranate does not yield successful results.

Layering method can be used whereby a sucker still attached to the mother plant is bent over in such a way that part of the branch is in contact with the ground. The sucker is cut out after the mother plant has produced leaves, and cutting is done between the mother plant and part of the sucker which is underground.

Propagation by cuttings

In propagation by cuttings, hardwood cuttings of 15-20cm length from the previous season vegetative shoot growth or suckers are used. They (cuttings) are taken in late season of inactiveness before any bud development and put inside the greenhouse on a sterilized soil in a vertical orientation with exposed top node, or planted directly in nursery beds.

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Cuttings may be left for a year or two in a nursery however one year is sufficient, then they can be transferred to a permanent orchard.

The use of cuttings to propagate pomegranate is labour intensive, time consuming and does not guarantee healthy (disease free) plants though it has been reported as a conventional method.

Orchard establishment

Establishment of an orchard is long term investment and hence needs thorough planning. Well drained land with moderate slope (3-5%) should be selected for establishment of an orchard. There should be no water stagnation in the orchard. A well laid out internal network of main, cross roads and paths is essential for efficient movement of workers and machinery.

Planting system, spacing, pit digging and time of planting:

As far as planting system is concerned square or rectangular planting system can be followed. Planting distance should be decided depending upon soil type, soil depth, climatic condition and variety.

Hole size of of 2x2x2 feet are dug at a spacing of 4.5 m x 3.0 m. Mix the top soil with a 20kg bucket of farm yard manure and return to the hole almost to the brim.

After filling the pits, watering is done to allow soil to settle down. Well developed cuttings/air-layered plants preferably 5-12 months old raised in polythene bags should be used for planting. While planting, one should be careful that the earth ball does not break. Light irrigation is given immediately after planting.

Profitability of pomegranate farming in Kenya

Healthy pomegranate trees can produce high yields ranging from 12-15kgs per tree during the first year. In the subsequent years (second year onwards), the yield per tree ranges from 15-20kgs. Pomegranates are one of the most expensive fruits in the world. In Kenya, the retail prices for one fruit range from Ksh 150 – ksh 300 while the wholesale prices range from Ksh 80 – Ksh 100. The fruit retails at premium prices in the export market with one kilo going for an average price of between Ksh 1500 – Ksh 1700.

This means that a farmer can earn between Ksh 1,080,000 – Ksh 2,160,000 in the first year.

In the export market, a farmer can pocket between Ksh 3,600,000 – Ksh 4,800,000.

From the second year onwards, a farmer should expect a minimum of Ksh 1,350,000 in the Kenyan market and ksh 4,500,000 in the export market. Isn’t that a lucrative venture?

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