Kenyan farmers stand a huge chance of earn from the wide global deficit of sweet pepper, which is also referred to as bale pepper, using the following steps in their production.
It is estimated that a farmer with an acre piece of land can easily make up to Sh3 millions from this crop annually considering that it can be grown thrice a year with a production of 100,000 stems which retails at Sh10 per season.
Although the global production of this high value crop, which belong to the capsicum species and come in three main colors-greens, red and yellow, has been growing since early 1990s, but the global deficit is still quite high. Last year, the global production of sweet pepper was 34.6 million tonnes against a total consumption of 52 million tonnes, with China accounting for 51 per cent of the production. Other market leaders include Mexico, Turkey and Indonesia who produced 2.3 million tonnes , 2.2 million tonnes and 1.7 million tonnes respectively.
Conditions for growth
Sweet peppers grow well in temperatures ranging 15 ºC to 25ºC and high altitude areas of 2,000 metres above sea level. Sweet peppers yield high in well-drained loamy or heavy cracking clay soils with an optimum PH range of between 6.0 to 6.5.
Seeds should be sown in drilled rows spaced 15cm and and thinly covered with soil. Thinning or pricking out should be done to a final seedling spacing of 5cm to allow for growth of healthy seedlings. Transplanting is done when seedlings measuring 10-15 cm at the age of 4-6 weeks. The spacing of 70cm by 40 cm is recommended, therefore, an acre piece of land can accommodate 12,000 plants. After a week, top dress with Calcium Ammonium Nitrate (CAN) at the rate of 40kg/acre. Irrigate constantly-at least thrice per day but 24/7 regulated irrigation is encouraged during dry season. After 4 weeks, apply CAN at the rate of 80kg/acre.
Although the average maturity of sweet pepper is 90 days with production of 10,000 fruits per acre, some hybrid varieties grown in the country including Yolo wander, Maxibell and Califonia wonder can mature in 75-80 days. Yolo wonder for instance mature in 80 days and has a production of 6 tonnes per acre same as California wonder.
The Maxibell variety matures in only 75 days and has a production of 8 tonnes per acre with each fruit weighing 100-120grammes. It is highly resistant to common diseases like Tobacco mosaic, Purple Blotch, Anthocyanin and Downy Mildew. Strict farm hygiene which includes constant weeding and trimming lower chances of diseases.
The above varieties can be found at Royal Seed Company at Sh6 per seedling. For more information, contact 0725 549997 or 0734 257635