The third Growing Solutions Kenya field day on Tuesday – 7th June 2016 at Latia Resource Center in Isinya recognized the presence of precisely 77 participants including farmers, investors, students, representatives from development organizations, media, as well as, some county governments and the national government. The theme of the forum had been ‘Dutch greenhouse technology for Kenyan vegetable growers’.
Mr. Harm Maters, the President of Green Farming introduced the added value of Dutch greenhouse technology for farmers and other investors. There’s co-operation between a group of Dutch greenhouse technology suppliers and local Kenyan partners like Latia. “We have study groups and open field days to share experience, build expertise and to help us decide on a better market proposition,” he acknowledged. Components of Growing Solutions Kenya is greenhouse-based production. It is tailor-made for the needs of the target group, SME vegetable farmers. There is business orientation from both sides. GSK is supported by the Dutch government.
“Latia regards this project for research and demonstration,” affirmed Peter Muthee, the Managing Director at Latia, “One of the lessons learnt is that there’s market for high quality products.” Secondly, suppliers of technology ought to adapt to the needs of local growers and climatic conditions, to foresee challenges that may arise during the testing period. For example, structures of the greenhouses to put up is important to note, because of these needs. Another lesson is the importance of discipline of operators who manage crop development routinely like pollination. “Farmers have invested in technology that seems not to work because those operating on them lack the understanding and discipline,” he observed.
Tuning to the plants needs for effective growth and production
Geert Nell of Bosman Van Zaal provided insights on the importance of irrigation technology especially through the use of rainwater. “Rainwater is the best for irrigation which can be harvested through gutters, stored and used in the greenhouses.” Bosman develops, manufactures, supplies and maintains facilities for producers of vegetable and floricultural crops. Their areas of expertise for multidisciplinary project solutions are greenhouses constructions, water systems, cultivation systems, heating & cooling systems, electrical systems and control systems and software. They operate from an international office in Kenya.
In his presentation on ‘Smart Environmental Control with Retractable Screens’, Mr. Philip Immerzeel of Ludvig Svensson explained the purpose of screens in greenhouses. “The Advanced greenhouse has a retractable screen to offer more effective control of the climate within it, leading to better yield. “Light sensitive vegetables have 25% more yield.” The screens also save on the use of energy, water and pesticide. This explains why Svensson works closely with Bosman, Koppert and Hoogendoorn to provide these solutions.
Martin Helmich, the Marketing and Sales Director of Hoogendoorn Growth Management, further expounded on controlling the greenhouse climate and irrigation systems through an automation software. “The Isii Compact can be used 24-hour, seven days a week to create the optimal growing conditions for a maximum production of the vegetable crop in the greenhouse.” In the Advanced module, water and fertilizer dosage is tuned to the plant’s needs hence increasing yields and reducing pests and diseases. “When you start with quality seeds, you get quality plants through biological control and the right knowledge.”
Koppert Biological Systems provides an integrated system of specialist cultivation knowledge and natural, safe solutions that increase crop health, resilience and production. Their crop protection system is natural for healthy soil life. Geoffrey Ongoya of Koppert engaged participants in the new developments of biological control for vegetables. “The consumption of vegetables in the country in comparison to fruits, flowers, maps and nuts is 48%,” he indicated, “Most farmers are not aware of these biological controls and we are looking to increase the current range which is at the moment still narrow.”
Nico explains about the automated systems installed in one of the greenhouses at Latia.
Nico de Groot, the Project Coordinator of GSK observed that the Consortium had really struggled to get the system running because new technology is being introduced in a new ecosystem. “We had to get used to the climatic conditions so as to find the right settings for the systems… for us it’s still a learning process.”
Improving living standards of SME vegetable farmers
Ms. Joan Nabea acknowledged that the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock in Kiambu County appreciates that GSK field days are open to farmers as she recognized a considerable number who had attended from the County. “Every other time there’s something different or additional to learn in such forums.”
GSK Project aims at contributing to the living standards of small and medium vegetable farmers in Kenya. The project is implemented by a consortium of 11-Dutch greenhouse technology providers, in partnership with Latia Resource Center Ltd. (the demonstration site). It involves the development of greenhouse technology that suits the local production conditions for vegetables. Capacity building is ongoing and it involves training farmers through study groups and field days.
The field days target vegetable growers, market players, input players, industry regulators, media relations, government representatives, as well as, consumers.
The first and second field days took place in December 2015 and March 2016, respectively.
View the short video clip about Growing Solutions Kenya here… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OMzqbjYMInI
Read about the Growing Solutions Kenya project here…
For more information about Green Farming Growing Solutions, contact:
Nico de Groot +31 0651073548/+254 705788689 | [email protected] | www.greenfarming.nl