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Cultural Practices:

Good Agricultural Practices (GAP):

International regulations on food safety and social accountability in the production of fresh produce are becoming ever stricter. Consumers are becoming more and more particular about the quality, safety and reliability of the fresh products they buy. The main buying outlets require the implementation of KENYAN-GAP. The GAP guidelines aim at producing a product that is safe, environment friendly and socially acceptable and of high quality. The following are the guidelines which are supposed to be implemented by the farmers and exporters.

  • Keep up to date farm production records in order to maintain consumer confidence in food quality and safety.
  • Apply proper crop protection strategies in order to reduce the use chemicals.
  • Observe the required standards during pesticide application in order to protect the health and safety of the sprayer.
  • Observe the required standards during transportation, storage and disposal of pesticides in order to minimize detrimental impact on the environment while conserving nature and wildlife.
  • Observe hygiene requirements during harvesting and post harvest handling of produce.
  • Adhere to regulations of wages and employment act
  • Adhere to environment protection regulations.

Land preparation

Initial cultivation should be deep to allow better and faster root development. Aggressive perennial weeds should be removed before planting. Early land preparation is recommended to expose pests to sunlight and birds. Land should be dry to avoid soil crumbling and creation of a hard pan. Incorporating of crop residue can significantly increase the soil organic content.

Nursery establishment

Kale seeds are sown into nursery structures like open land, wooden, plastic or seeding trays.

Open field nursery establishment

Procedure

  • Site nursery where vegetables in the same family as kale have not been grown for 2 years.
  • The nursery beds should be about 1 meter wide (so as to undertake cultural practices without injuring the plants) and of the required length. In wet areas and sites with heavy soils, raised beds are recommended to prevent water logging.
  • Manure and phosphate fertilizers like DAP should be applied and worked well into the soil. Manure improves the soil structure and moisture holding while phosphorus helps in root development. A nitrogen fertilizer like CAN is top dressed two weeks after germination only on poor soils since excessive nitrogen results to weak plants.
  • The drills are made across the beds at a spacing of 10-15cm apart and 2cm deep.
  • The seeds should be sown thinly and covered lightly with soil.
  • Cover the nursery bed with a thin layer of dry grass (mulch) to avoid unearthing the seeds. This is removed after germination.
  • In hot areas, a shade (about 1m high) is necessary. However, excessive watering and shade favors the development of powdery mildews.
  • The seedlings should be thinned out to 2-3cm apart. Crowded seedlings compete for nutrients and space resulting into weak seedlings. Crowding also creates conducive environment for damping off disease.
  • Water once or twice daily. Irregular watering also promotes dumping off disease.
  • Pests and diseases in the nursery should be controlled to ensure healthy seedlings.
  • The seedlings are transplanted when four to five true leaves are formed. This takes a period of about four weeks.
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