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Farmers rake in profits after turning to greenhouse farming

Picture of a farmer and his tomato crops

Farmers in Homa Bay County are embracing greenhouse technology in a bid to boost productivity. This is after the county government donated two training greenhouse structures to farmers groups in each of its 40 wards with the aim of promoting the technology.

The county executive for Agriculture, Eliud Otieno, says the distribution of the structures seeks to improve food productivity and alleviate hunger.

“The county government is implementing projects aimed at increasing food security in three pillars namely, livestock, crop husbandry and fisheries.

The greenhouse project is one of these programmes,” he says. Eric Alwala, a tomato farmer from Kamser Nyagowa village in Karachuonyo constituency, has taken fast to the technology and readily testifies to improved productivity from greenhouses.

The farmer says compared to the open-field production where he hardly earned above Sh4,000 a week, the greenhouse technology has now turned around his fortunes, at times earning him as much as Sh42, 000 a month. “I used to get a small income while growing tomatoes under the open field system.

But thank God things are turning positive with the new technology,” he says. Through a local micro-finance self-help group, Alwala says they got a greenhouse structure from the county government in 2015. After an agreement with the group, the 35-year-old farmer says he capitalised on the structure to change tact in production and his produce has since changed.

“The greenhouse currently has 600 tomato plants with mature fruits ready for harvesting,” he says. The greenhouse technique, he says, is bearing him fruit as he is beginning to realise a bumper harvest. “The harvest is good and my tomato fruits are fairly big in size and healthy,” says Alwala.

Alwala now harvests twice every week. He says each harvest fetches him an average of six crates. “I sell the tomato fruits at Sh3, 500 per crate or at Sh75 per kilogramme and it is absolutely lucrative,” he adds. The farmer draws water from Lake Victoria to irrigate the crops since the structure lies just adjacent to the shores of the lake 200 metres away.

The farmer says greenhouses provides a fully controlled environmental condition for optimum growth of plants. Harsh weather conditions, such strong weeds, excess rainwater that cause run-off, are also minimised.

“Working under greenhouse is far much better because the quality of the fruits and vegetables is higher and you are sure of a good produce,” he says. To this end, the farmer anticipates setting up at least two more greenhouses this year.

Greenhouse technology is the unique technique of providing favourable conditions to the crops. It is mostly used in growing high value crops. This method is used to protect the crops from adverse climatic conditions such as cold, wind, precipitation, extreme temperature, insects and disease.

The advantage of using the technology is that there is absolute guarantee of increased crop yields and minimal external threats to the crops. In other words, the technology modifies the environment for crop production.

However, greenhouses have higher operating expenses. Besides, precautions must be taken to eliminate pests or diseases to make sure the next crops are not affected. For instance, one must keep away pests attracted by the warmer air.

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