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Grekkon Limited: How To Do Greenhouse Farming In Kenya

Greenhouse farming in Kenya is done for the production of vegetables, herbs, and ornamentals (rose flowers mostly). It is done in the mid to high altitude locations of the country by large, medium and smallholder farmers. Production of these crops is for both domestic consumption- vegetables, and for export- all. Smaller growers produce for the local market, while large greenhouse producers grow for the export market, mainly Europe.

Grekkon Limited designs, and constructs greenhouses for all farmers according to size. Before engaging in greenhouse farming, a farmer must understand the following.

1. Crop type. Most, if not all food crop and ornamental seeds or seedlings for greenhouse production are hybrids. Some hybrid crop varieties grow better in the open field, while others are specifically bred to grow in the greenhouse. The farmer must therefore understand the crop variety he or she intends to grow, to ensure it grows under the right conditions. For instance, open field tomato hybrid varieties are determinate types, while the greenhouse tomato varieties are the indeterminate varieties.

2. While most greenhouse crops such as tomato, peppers, capsicums, cucumbers are self-pollinating, others such as strawberries are not. Distinguishing between self- pollinating, and cross- pollinating crops is key for a grower. This is because it determines the type of netting used on the greenhouse. For the self- pollinating crops, a net that keeps of every insect is used. This is for pest and disease management. Strawberry and other cross- pollinated crops will require a net that allows in insects. In this regard, a grower will to use a bird net on the greenhouse. Bird nets allow in insects, but keep at bay bird pests on crops.

3. Land size. This will determine;

– the size of the greenhouse. Farmers with larger acreage will design larger structures, and those with limited space will do smaller ones.

– necessity of a greenhouse. A grower with a large open field may opt for open field crops whose capital outlay is lower than if greenhouses were set up to produce the same. While a small holder farmer with a plot of land will do a greenhouse to optimize on the limited space.

4. This will determine the greenhouse type structure, if it is a vented or tunnel type greenhouse. The former is suitable for all locations, but particularly the mid to low altitudes where it’s hot. They provide better ventilation because they are higher, and have an open vent on the roof. A grower in the cooler highlands will construct the tunnel type greenhouse.

5. Availability of irrigation water. All greenhouses are irrigated because the crop is protected from rain. A grower must have sufficient irrigation water to grow the crop to maturity

6. Human resource. Training of greenhouse workers to observe high levels of hygiene is necessary. This is because disease and pests spread much more easily in this

7. This will determine;

  • the greenhouse sizes. A smaller budget means smaller units, and vice versa
  • the greenhouse types. The tunnel type is cheaper to build than the vented type