East Africa Seed Company Agronomist Obed Kamoni working at the firm’s demonstration farm during a past agricultural event.
Eggplant fruit farmers can grow and achieve three times bigger fruits than the current size to harvest a total of at least 16 tonnes per acre in three months thanks to best agronomical practices that can enable the producers to grow the crop for high-end hotels and markets in Kenya.
According to Obed Kamoni, agronomist at East Africa Seed Company most eggplant fruits currently weigh from 100g to 300g and though the eggplants look like fragile, they can tolerate adverse climate to give fruits of 700g to one kilogramme.
This can be achieved by following some of the best agronomical practices.
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A nursery bed for germination must be about one metre in width, but the length is unlimited. Soil should be raised and tilt into fine particles to increase chances of germination.
Soil in a one metre by 10 metres nursery bed should have at least 50kg of well decomposed manure.
Drills of about three centimeters are made before covering and irrigating then covering with mulch.
The mulch should be removed before the seedlings emerge.
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Seedlings are transplanted after a month, when they are pencil-thick at a spacing of 60cm by 90cm.
A tea spoonful of double ammonium phosphate fertiliser and a handful of farmyard manure are added to the 10cm deep transplantation hole.
Transplanting at the onset of rains is appropriate for farmers who do not have access to water for irrigation. Otherwise watering is necessary for high productivity.
At least 4,500 seedlings are required for one acre.
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After the seedlings have to be sprayed with a pesticide like Vegimax mixed with Vacotine to kill cutworms, mites, whiteflies and other insects than can cut or mine the juice from the tender crops.
The pesticides should be applied after 14 days, although at times infestation can determine the frequency.
Mulching is key in cutting costs of irrigation. It retains the moisture in the soil while smothering weeds. Minimum tillage because of the mulch ensures that soil is least disturbed and the microbes inside work ‘peacefully’ to convert organic matter into ready nutrients for use.
Top-dress with calcium ammonium phosphate (CAN) after one month.
As the plants start flowering Swift or any other bee friendly insecticide must be applied; bees are important in pollination of the eggplants.
Swift insecticide also kills insects that drill holes into the fruits.
Topaz should be spayed to the crops to cushion them against cold weather.
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After about 75 days, the first harvest is ready, with some fruits being half a kilogramme. By the end of three months, each fruit can weigh 700gm to one kilo.
Although they do well in warm climates like the Coast region, eggplants can give 16 to 32 tonnes per acre in moderately climate.
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They can be sold after 70 days when they are about 300g to until they attain maximum weight. The market will dictate the size to be harvested.
In the East Africa Seed Company demonstration plot in Mombasa, the individual plants had more than 10 fruits weighing more than 700g.
According to Mboga Masters, an online vegetable price research platform, one kilo of the eggplants costs Sh120 in Nairobi.
Kamoni can be reached on +254712746364