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By Mary Mwende Mbithi

On the shores of Lake Naivasha, off North Lake Road in Kasarani area of Naivasha in Nakuru County lies a magnificent, well maintained farm with landmark, conspicuous greenhouses. Shalimar Flower Farm, a hotbed of horticulture thriving in Avocado and cutflower growing.

Inception and Production
The farm was started in 2002 on a 350 acre piece of land. It is one of the four farms enshrined under the umbrella of Shalimar Flowers (K.) Limited, (previously East Africa Growers). Having expanded from the initial 30 hectares, it currently, runs on 34 hectares massive piece of land. Shalimar Flowers (K.) Limited grows over 40 varieties of Roses mainly the T-Hybrid, Premium and Spray intermediate roses. ( in different farms ) They have incorporated the hydroponics system in their production. They also grow other flowers such as Gypsophilla, Solidago, Lipiedium, Chrysanthemum, Eucalyptus and Gerbera. They are also preparing to introduce Astroemeria and Hypericum flowers in their farms.

Fertigation is a widely used farming practice. The fertigation technique allows growers to save time, resources, and efforts by completing two events at a time: fertilization and irrigation. Customization of modern fertigation systems and innovative satellite-based software enable pinpoint variable rate fertilizer (VRF) applications. The most efficient method is drip fertigation that reduces inputs and delivers nutrients to the root zone. The technology is suitable for farm enterprises of any size since there are large and small-scale fertigation systems, with manual or fully automated control.

What Is Fertigation?
In fertigation, liquid fertilizers are delivered to plants with irrigation. Compared to traditional fertilization methods, the fertigation technique proves to be more efficient. In particular, benefits of fertigation include:

When it comes to talking about disease-related issues in greenhouse crops, one point of confusion is often WHICH pathogens CAN be transmitted by water. Some are obvious – we all know Pythium is water-borne. But what about other culprits, like Fusarium or Erwinia? Should you worry about these in your recirculating water?

“Water-borne” fungi
You may have heard the term “water-borne” when discussing irrigation water and disease risks from Fungi, but aren’t sure exactly which pathogens it includes.

Generally, there are two types of pathogens we can consider as “water borne” fungi. The first – and most classic definition – are pathogens that are actually motile in water (i.e. produce swimming structures). This includes Pythium and Phytopthora. Both of these diseases are technically classified as “water molds”, being more closely related to algae than to fungi, though they look very much like fungi. They are well adapted to an aquatic environment and can live where irrigation water is stored (cisterns, ponds) for long periods.

Fungicides work by stopping or inhibiting fungal growth, sporulation or germination of spores. Different fungicides act on different stages of the fungal lifecycle and not all fungicides are effective against all fungi. Resistance occurs when a pathogen that was once sensitive to a fungicide is no longer sensitive (not controlled). Managing the use of fungicides and fungicide resistance in farms is important and can be achieved with planning.

Protectant, curative and eradicant products
Fungicides are categorised by the stage of the disease cycle they target. Although the life cycles and biology of pathogens as a whole are very diverse, the disease cycle can be split into the following generalised stages:

Infection (penetration of the host plant)
Colonisation (multiplication of the pathogen within the local area of infection in the plant before symptoms occur)

Symptom expression (visual signs of disease)
Spore production and spread (normally occurs multiple times per year, depending upon the pathogen and environmental conditions)

Flower farmers in Kenya are being forced to throw away a quarter of their produce due to a drop in airline traffic in the wake of restrictions imposed on rival carriers to protect Kenya Airways.

Kenya Flower Council (KFC), the lobby for large-scale flower farms, says they need freight capacity of at least 5,000 tonnes a week against the 3,500 tonnes available. The government has been reluctant to allow Ethiopian Airlines, for instance, to increase its capacity from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).

“On average our members are dumping flowers equivalent to 25 percent of their produce because of the limited cargo capacity,” said Clement Tulezi, chief executive of the Kenya Flower Council.

Mealybugs pose a serious threat to growers in warmer climates as they can significantly reduce the productivity and yield of greenhouse crops. But lessons-learnt from greenhouse rose farms in Kenya demonstrate that it is possible to manage Mealybugs when the right tactics are deployed, such as early intervention supported by an effective scouting system, writes Edwin Kiptarus and Simon Kihungu

Mealybugs1Mealybugs have taken on a renewed significance with the recent arrival and rapid spread in Kenya of the Papaya mealybug, Paracoccus marginatus. Although not the same species as the Coffee mealybug, Planococcus kenyae, generally found on roses in Kenya, both are quarantine pests that have the potential to spread viruses along fresh cut flower pathways. Other Species of Mealybugs that affects ornamentals are: Common examples include the long tailed mealybug (Pseudococcus longispinus), which has characteristically long waxy filaments that protrude from the end of the abdomen, and the obscure mealybug (Pseudococcus viburni), which also has waxy filaments, but they are much shorter in comparison to the longtailed mealybug. Citrus mealybug (Planococcus citri), lacks any waxy filaments and has a gray stripe that extends the length of the body. The differences are shown in the image below:

mangoes1Makueni is the leading county in mango production contributing up to 31 per cent of the total fruits that Kenya produces. “Right now the amount exported is two per cent of the total production of 184,000 tonnes produced annually, which is a small fraction,” said Robert Kisyula, the then CEC Agriculture, Makueni.

That mangoes are critical to the economy of Makueni County, is not in doubt. What is worrying is that the devolved unit only exports a paltry two per cent to the world market, missing out on lucrative global business.

Part of the reason for a slow uptake on the export market was because of a selfimposed ban by Kenya in 2010 after experiencing a bout of mango fruit fly that risked Kenya’s produce being banned in Europe, which is its main market before the moratorium. “It was easier to pull out ourselves than being banned by markets in Europe. We hope that we will be able to reopen the EU market this year,” he said.