We live in a beautiful country indeed. Our potential for agri-business is immense, our land is fertile and our people are hard workers. Thanks to a fast growing demand for fresh grocery, demand for agricultural products such as watermelons has grown exponentially over the last few years. Today Kuza Biashara wants to share some important tips about watermelon farming. Note: We look forward to receiving your feedback in the comment section at the tail-end of this article.
How To Grow Your Ksh40,000 Into Ksh400,000 In A 100 Days
#1: Get the Seeds
High quality seeds are available at Kenya Seeds Company and Simlaw Seeds Company outlets. At the moment 500 grams of seeds is retailing at Ksh12500 and it can serve up to 1 acre.
Keep in mind that because watermelon produce large vines, you need to leave a space of at least 1.5 metres between rows. This leafy crop should be grown away from any shade so that it receives at least 6 hours of direct sunlight.
#2: Choose the Right Variety
The variety of watermelon you choose can determine what profit you are going to reap from your investment. According to Mr. Robert Musyoki, a variety known as Sweet Rose is the best bet for first time farmers since it is highly resistant to diseases and pests. Other varieties that are in high demand in Kenya include: Sugar-Baby, Jubilee and Congo.
#3: How Long to Maturity?
Watermelons normally reach maturity in 80 to 100 days. To check if your fruits are ready you only need to turn them to see if they have a yellow patch on the part that lies against the ground. Another way to check for maturity would be by thumping the fruits – you should expect to hear a dull noise from a ripe one.
#4: Can I Plant Watermelons in My Home Area?
“Watermelon is adapatable to a wide range of environments” said Robert Musyoki during a telephone interview with Kuza Biashara research team. In general watermelons grow well in mid-hot coastal areas and dry plains. Example of such places: Machakos, Embu, Kirinyaga, Loitoktok, Garissa, Isiolo, Kerio Valley and some parts of Meru. According to Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) this crop can also perform well in areas with black cotton soil (such as Kitengela) if planted under drip irrigation.
#5: Challenges to Watch Out For
As with any other business, watermelon farming has its fair share of challenges. According to Dr. John McOpiyo (a one-time Watermelon farmer) says that finding the right pesticides, and fungicide is always a challenge. He narrated to us how he sprayed his farm with wrong chemicals only to lose all his crops. Kuza Biashara would recommend seeking advice from an extension officer before applying any pesticides of fungicides to watermelons.
#6: How Much You Need (1 acre farm budget)
- Seeds – Ksh12,500
- Labour – Ksh10,000
- Ploughing and weeding – Ksh10,000
- 50 KG DAP Fertilizer – Ksh2,500
An acre of land can produce 45,000 Kilograms. Each Kilogram retails at a farm-gate price of Ksh10 – Ksh15. In short, we’re talking about a return of about Ksh 450,000 minimum.
#7:Where Is the Market for Watermelons
Major market for watermelons in Kenya is easily available in Nairobi’s City Market, Agakhan Market, Githurai Market, Kangemi and Kongowea Market that is in Mombasa. Alternatively, you can look for market in hotels and supermarkets in your locality. “There are middle-men who normally come to the farms seeking to buy your produce even before it matures, so I don’t think finding market for watermelon would be a big problem” Julius Kombo (a farmer from Lamu, Kenya).
There are many other things you need to consider before investing your hard-earned money in this business. If you have some questions related to watermelon farming kindly share it in a comment below; suggestions are also welcome. And have you visited our main website of late? Be sure to watch a few “How To Videos” that we have prepared for you over there.