Growing a high-yielding variety of Carmen F1 cucumber coupled with identifying the target market can earn a farmer up to Sh225,000 from greenhouse in four months.
Carmen F1 is becoming popular among horticultural farmers for its tolerance to effects of the powdery mildew. It performs well in greenhouse set ups, giving uniform fruits in size, shape and weight.
Wycliffe Obwoge, an agronomist running a Nairobi-based agribusiness organisation’s greenhouse, says one plant can yield up to 25 kilogrammmes by the end of the growing season of four months.
He is, however, quick to caution that before engaging in this type of production, it is prudent for a farmer to first identify the market.
“A 15m by 8m greenhouse accommodates 300 seedlings. Because of the constant conditions, the production is steady and can be overwhelming. If a farmer does not have ready market it can be challenging,” he says.
Supermarkets and major hotels and other high-end eateries are big consumers of cucumbers. Carmen F1 gives heavy and long fruits which weighing even up to half a kilogramme.
Because of equal exposure to the micro-ecological conditions in the greenhouse, quantity and quality of the produce is almost uniform in yields and other attributes.
In the Amiran Kenya green house, constant quantity of water and nutrients are supplied by drip irrigation.
“Application of some fertilisers, soil-targeting pesticides and other nutritive elements boosting growth is done via irrigation. The resulting crops are similar,” he says.
From 300 plants, one can easily harvest about 7,500 kg by the end of the growing season.
In Nairobi, kilo of cucumber costs between Sh30 and Sh40. At times, the cost swells further than Sh50 when the supply is low and demand is high. The 7,500 kg sold at Sh30 will earn a gross income of Sh225,000.
In the local markets, cucumbers cost between Sh10 and sh20 when sold per piece.
A Carmen F1 farmer will spend more on control of whiteflies, which are the main pests attacking cucumber.
Powdery mildew fungi affect leaves of other cucumber varieties, tomatoes, onions, pepper, among others. When more leaves are affected, photosynthesis rate is reduced, leading to poor harvests.