In this guide, we will focus on how to start a profitable okra Farming Business in Kenya.
Stay connected and read this useful guide as it will help you to increase your yield in okra production in Kenya.
Okra Farming is a viable choice for vegetable farmers, with a maturation period of up to 60 days and a ready local and export market.
Okra is also known as ladyfingers in many English-speaking nations because it is long and curled. It’s known as bhindi in India, and it’s regarded as a miraculous enabler when it comes to mathematical prowess. Some people believe that eating two ladyfingers a day will keep back discomfort at bay.
If you want to plant Okra for export in Kenya, you should do so in July, because the major export season is from October to May.
Health Benefits Of Okra
Okra is primarily used in cooking as a vegetable. It has a slimy consistency and a sticky juice that can be used to thicken recipes. Okra is also high in nutrients. It can reduce blood sugar levels while also acting as an antioxidant.
Consumption of okra lowers the risk of cancer. It helps to lessen the risk of heart disease by lowering blood sugar levels.
Okra Varieties Okra varieties available in Kenya include:
Clemson spineless- This cultivar grows to a height of 1.2 to 1.5 meters. It bears 15 cm long pods that are fairly ridged and green in color.
White velvet is a medium-sized cultivar that can reach a height of 1.5 to 1.8 meters. The texture of the pods is smooth, and they have a creamy white look. The pods are 15 to 18 cm in length.
Pusa Sawant is a high-yielding kind of pusa. It has lengthy pods that are 18 to 20 cm long. It also features smooth, dark green pods with a silky feel. This cultivar reaches a height of 2 to 2.5 meters. It’s mostly aimed at the export market.
Dwarf Green long pods- This cultivar can reach a height of 0.09 m. Its green pods are angular in shape. The pods are 18 to 20 meters long.
Okra Ecological Requirements.
Okra needs temperatures of at least 19°C to flourish. It grows best in a pH range of 6 to 8. You should keep the temperature between 24 and 30 degrees Celsius. The finest conditions for cultivating this vegetable are Kenya’s well-drained fertile soils.
Yield per acre of okra
A tree in Kenya can produce 20–30 kg of fruit each year. You can get the best yield of 12.86 t/ha by spacing your plants 60 by 30 cm apart. It’s best to plant high-yielding kinds.
Planting Okra on Prepared Land
Two months before planting, the soil must be prepared. This allows organic debris and crop residues to degrade before planting your Okra. It also allows you to get rid of any young weeds before planting.
Okra planting nursery preparation
Okra is sown directly in the field in Kenya. Seedlings can be grown in plastic trays or nursery seedbeds. If you want to hasten the germination of your Okra seeds, soak them in water overnight before planting them.
Okra is planted 50 by 30 cm between rows and within rows in various parts of Kenya. The main reason for the variation in spacing is for irrigation considerations. A hectare of land can hold around 10 kilograms of seeds. The depth of the planting holes should be around 1.5 cm.
Okra IRRIGATION Requirements
Your Okra crop would need 400 mm of water throughout the first three months of growth, according to the Kenya Ministry of Agriculture. Okra is mostly farmed in Kenya’s semi-arid regions. Water should be provided at a rate of 35 liters per square meter of your plantation. From blossom to pod production, you’ll need to irrigate frequently.
Fusarium wilt is a fungal disease that spreads through the soil. You’ll find that your growth is stunted. Your Okra plant’s leaves turn yellow, wilt, and eventually fall off. High nitrogen levels, acidic growth, water stress, and warm soil temperatures are all factors to consider.
Pests that wreak havoc on okra
Pests such as Thrips, Spider mites, Root-knot nematodes, Aphids, Spiny bollworms, Flea beetles, and Cutworms may attack your Okra plantation.
Thrips are a type of insect that feeds on the lower surface of plants. Your plants will be more vulnerable to thrips attack if they are stressed by the environment. These insect adults and larvae both eat the leaves.
Curls and creases will appear, which will ultimately dry up. Thrips eat flowers as well. This could lead to malformed pods. Use insecticides till the early stages of flowering.
Spider mites might be seen as webs or small moving specks. They primarily attack the leaves’ bottom surface. Dehydrated plants are more vulnerable to this attack.
The leaves will begin to turn yellow and eventually fall off the plant.
Root-knot nematodes are soil-dwelling nematodes. They primarily infest sandy soil fields. Plants that have been attacked turn yellow and have reduced development. You may see little bumps on your plant’s roots. Galls, often known as root-knots, are the lumps.
To avoid this pest, it is recommended that you choose resistant kinds. Intercropping with different mustards is necessary while growing okra in nematode-infested farms. This aids in the bio-fumigation process.
Aphids- In Kenya, the cotton aphid has been discovered as a serious pest of Okra. They’re soft-bodied insects that lurk under your Okra plant’s leaves or stem. Aphids come in a variety of colors, including yellow and green. Honeydew is excreted by them, which promotes the formation of sooty mold on the plants.
Aphids can be controlled by cutting the leaves or shoots that are infested. To manage the pest, you need also to employ tolerance varieties.
One of the most common pests of okra is the spiny bollworm. The larvae like to feed on the terminal shoots of young plants. After pod creation, the larvae move on to flower buds. When they infest your crop, you may see a decrease in yield. Nitrogen fertilizer doses should be kept to a minimum. Spiny bollworm infestation is exacerbated by high doses.
You must inspect your crops frequently to manage this pest. Early detection aids in the complete eradication of the larvae. After harvesting, you should also get rid of old crops and crop debris.
The cultivation of your land must be done at the right time. To keep weeds at bay, use shallow cultivation between crops and rows. If you cultivate too late, the weeds may have grown to a size that makes them difficult to remove.
Okra with cowpea or groundnut can be intercropped. You should leave enough space between rows of 60 m by 30 m. You gain a financial advantage through intercropping. Okra has been employed in farming mixtures with legumes in several places of Kenya.
Harvest and Post-Harvest Care for Okra (Ladyfingers)
Your crop will be ready to harvest 45 to 55 days after planting in Kenya. The blossoming of your pod indicates that your Okra has reached maturity. 4 to 6 days after blossoming, harvest the pods.
Harvest timing is determined by variety and market needs. If the market is your goal for your Okra, you’ll need to pick it every 1 to 2 days. This guarantees that your pods are suitable for the Kenyan market.
It’s best to snap or cut the pods off by hand when harvesting. A stalk of no more than 1 cm should be left. When harvesting and handling your crops, it is recommended that you use rubber gloves. This shields your skin from the okra plant’s sap, which might irritate it.
Harvesting is best done early in the morning before the sun gets too hot. This is because Okra dehydrates quickly after harvest, causing quality to deteriorate. If you’re cultivating okra for export, you should cool it right after harvesting to keep the moisture and quality.