Coconut farming for beginners
Coconut farming in Kenya has mostly been practiced in the Coastal region. This is mostly because of the favorable weather conditions since they require warm conditions for successful growth. The coconut tree is a member of the palm family and there are two distinct varieties of coconut; the tall and the dwarf. A tall coconut palm tree can yield up to 75 fruits per year on fertile soil. Here are some of the things you need to know about coconut farming;
- Seeds and planting
For coconuts to grow well, they require soils with good drainage and should not be waterlogged. One way to do this is to avoid overwatering as this can cause rotting of the seeds. Planting can be done by sowing the seeds directly into the fields or by first raising the seedlings in the nursery before transplanting. Ensure that you take extreme caution to confirm that you are using good seeds that are not rotten or that have nut water.
As good farming practice requires, spacing should be considered during planting. This will result in less overcrowding of the crops. In coconut farming, spacing depends on the planting system, soil type etc. When planting coconuts in the square system of planting, the recommended spacing is 7.5m x 7.5m. Engage in regular manuring to ensure high productivity. In addition to this, regular weeding, intercropping with crops like sweet potatoes will maximize production and result in an increase in income.
- Pests and Diseases
Just like any other crop in farming, coconuts are also susceptible to pests and diseases. Some of these are lethal yellowing, coconut leaf beetle, and coconut mites. These pests and diseases may cause a lot of destruction to your coconut farming venture and should, therefore, be eliminated as soon as they are spotted.
Coconut palms produce their first fruit in six to ten years, as long as they are given proper care and good growing conditions. To harvest the fruits, one has to climb the tree. Many of the Coastal people are very experienced in doing this with most, if not all, climbing the tall palm trees with no form of support at all.
Many of the farmers sell their coconuts directly from the farm or they take them to neighboring markets for sale.A lot of the Coastal communities love dishes made using coconut produce and as a result, market for coconuts is readily available. Coconuts are being embraced more in the upcountry regions of Kenya and find their way there in “pakachas” for onward sale. Here is a great article on Uses of Coconuts that sheds some light on the versatility of coconuts.Coconut farming is a rewarding form of agribusiness since coconuts are very versatile in their uses, ranging from food, cosmetics, beverages, oils etc. Click To Tweet
In conclusion, coconuts can be sold as they are or you can engage in value addition. This will result in an increase in income for the farmers. Some ideas for value addition include making coconut oil, coconut flour, coconut cream & milk, beauty products etc.
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