Growing a high-yielding and disease resistance Carmen F1 cucumber variety can earn a farmer up to Sh225,000 thanks to best practices such as growing the crop within a greenhouse and proper market research.
According to Wycliffe Obwoge, an agronomist running a Nairobi-based agribusiness organisation’s greenhouse, one plant can yield up to 25 kilogrammmes by the end of the growing season of four months.
“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,” said Obwoge.
He adds that 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.
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.
“A farmer will spend more on control of whiteflies, which are the main pests attacking cucumber,” said Obwoge.
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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.
“Application of some fertilisers, soil-targeting pesticides and other nutritive elements boosting growth can done via irrigation. The resulting crops are similar.”
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 translating to Sh150,000 when sold at Sh20 each.
However, it is advisable that before engaging in this type of production, it is prudent for a farmer to first identify the market.
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.