Pumpkin Farming In Kenya, Growing And Profitability
Pumpkin farming is a viable agricultural enterprise in Kenya, as pumpkins are in high demand both locally and internationally. Pumpkin is becoming an important fruit-vegetable, although its potential remains unexploited in Kenya.
Profitability Of Pumpkin Farming in Kenya
Pumpkin farming in Kenya can be a profitable venture if done correctly. Here are some factors that can affect the profitability of pumpkin farming in Kenya:
- Market demand: Pumpkin is a popular crop in Kenya, and there is a high demand for it both locally and internationally. It is used in various cuisines, and its seeds and oil are also in high demand. If you can find a reliable market for your pumpkins, you can expect to make good profits.
- Yield per acre: The yield per acre of pumpkin can vary depending on factors such as the variety of pumpkin grown, soil fertility, and weather conditions. Higher yields mean higher profits.
- Cost of production: The cost of producing pumpkins in Kenya will depend on factors such as seed costs, labor costs, fertilizer costs, and irrigation costs. The lower the production costs, the higher the profits.
- Marketing strategy: Your marketing strategy will affect the profitability of your pumpkin farming business. Consider factors such as packaging, transport, and pricing when developing your marketing strategy.
Overall, pumpkin farming in Kenya can be profitable, especially if you can find a reliable market and keep your production costs low. With proper management practices and market research, you can achieve success in pumpkin farming and make good profits.
Varieties Of Pumpkin Grown In Kenya
There are different varieties of pumpkins growing in Kenya. They are categorized according to shape, colour, ridges, spots and stripes. The types that are most popular in Kenya include; the white giant from South Africa, Israel giant, Egyptian giant, ‘Squach’ and ‘Dola’.
Ecological requirements for Growing Pumpkins
Pumpkins are grown from the lowlands up to altitudes of about 2500 meters above sea level. They are warm-season crops adapted to mean temperatures of 18-27 degrees Celsius.
Pumpkins do well in places where medium to heavy applications of compost or well-decomposed manure is done. They can be planted on almost any well-drained fertile soil with a neutral pH. Pumpkins are drought-tolerant and are sensitive to water logging since it encourages the development of leaf diseases.
Land preparation for Farming Pumpkins
You should ensure that no members of the pumpkin family (cucurbit family) have been planted on the land before. This will minimize the risk of the spread of diseases from the previous crop. The ground should be finely tilled to ensure proper penetration of roots.
Select high-quality pumpkin seeds, and plant them directly in the field at a depth of 2-3 cm. You can space the seeds about 90 cm apart to allow for ample growth space.
During planting, it is vital to prepare mounds of soil to help improve drainage. It will also be easier for the sun’s heat to penetrate the soil in order to encourage germination.
The seed should be placed 1-2 inches deep just enough to cover it from the birds and allow for easier germination.
The ideal spacing is 2-3metres by 3 meters due to the vegetative nature of the pumpkin. This varies according to the variety being planted.
Pumpkin Population Per Acre
Close to 2000 seedlings can be planted in an acre if well-spaced. Fertilizer application should be made according to soil tests results. Ensure that you use organic fertilizers such as well rotten cow dung and chicken droppings. They are not only a cheaper alternative but also produce better results.
Irrigation requirements for Pumpkins
Irrigation of the plant should be done regularly as it promotes nutrient uptake and proper fruit formation. However, it should be done in a way that it reduces the chances of waterlogging and directs water to the roots and vines rather than the leaves.
It is recommended that you irrigate at an interval of 3 days during dry weather. Irrigation should be increased if the plant is in the flowering and fruiting stage. It would be best if you avoid logging the soil with water since it enables diseases like the powdery mildew to thrive and spread to other plants.
Pumpkin Yield per acre
When you not only maintain your pumpkins but also fertilize the soil well, you can get up to five tons per acre. However, it will depend on the spacing during planting and the variety of the pumpkins. A single fruit of the giant Israel pumpkin can weigh up to 20-30kg if you apply good farming practices, adequate water and manure.
Intercropping is an excellent way of maximizing the use of land and available water. It can also be used to contain the growth of weeds and improving soil fertility without the use of synthetic fertilizers and chemicals.
Crops that can be intercropped with pumpkins include okra, sunflower, Moringa and pawpaw.
These crops complement each other as pumpkin leaves act as cover crops to control the growth of weeds. Sunflowers aid in attracting pollinators.
Pawpaw, Moringa and okra leaves can be used to make extracts for organic disease and pest control.
- Fruits are mature after 3-4 months depending on the variety.
- You will know it is mature when: gets the variety colour, stem attached begins to dry and gives a hollow sound if tapped.
- The pumpkin fruit should not be harvested until the skin has reached full colour and has hardened.
- Use a sharp knife to cut off the stem at the vine. Be careful not to damage the vine, if there are more pumpkins still on it.
- Do not carry the pumpkin by the stem. Carry the pumpkin out of the field by holding it in the palms of your hands.
- To harvest, cut so that you leave 2.5 cm of stem attached to the fruit.
- Store in a cool and dry place. Wash the pumpkin properly before storage. Pumpkins are best stored on a board or piece of cardboard. Do not store the fruit on a cement floor, as they tend to rot.
- Fruit can store for 4-6 months without deterioration.
Fertilizer requirements on pumpkin
Apply fertilizer to the plants after the first two weeks. Use a balanced fertilizer that contains nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
Harvesting Pumpkins and post-harvest Care
When the pumpkin skin reaches full color and hardens, then the fruit is ready to harvest. Depending on variety, the fruit is usually ready about 90 to 120 days after planting.
Pumpkin is harvested by plucking it from the vine leaving the stalk on the fruit to enhance the fruit shelf life. You can store your Pumpkins for 30 to 90 days.
Pumpkin should be washed to remove any dirt or bacteria that may cause the fruit to rot. Before storage, the fruit should be allowed to completely dry and should be stored in a cool, dry place, preferably a dark place.
Pumpkin Market In Kenya
Pumpkins are marketable in Kenya for a variety of reasons, including their high demand in Kenya’s domestic and international markets. Pumpkin farming is a lucrative venture. For example, one kilo of pumpkin is sold for between Kshs 50 and Kshs 80. Also, a full-grown pumpkin costs between Kshs 200 and Kshs 500, depending on its size and type.
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