Guidelines for profitable greenhouse farming

Greenhouse farming
Greenhouses use little space but give high yields. PHOTO/FILE
A greenhouse is a specialized structure with walls and a roof made from transparent materials where plants that need controlled climatic conditions are grown.

Greenhouses are quickly gaining popularity in Kenya as progressive farmers get more acquainted with modern technologies available in the sector. Their use is mostly informed by unfriendly environmental conditions which are not favourable for open field crop production.

The houses are useful in regulating temperatures, humidity, and water supply so as to create an appropriate climate for crops. This puts a farmer in control of when, what and where they grow their crops instead of depending on seasons and rainfall which can fail or be too much.

The trailblazers of greenhouse farming in Kenya were the flower farmers but other farmers have adopted the technology to grow vegetables of assorted types including tomatoes, onions, capsicum, cucumbers, herbs, passion fruits strawberries and butternuts.

The frames of a greenhouse are made from different materials such as metal, concrete and plastic while the walls and roof are made of either polythene, glass or net. However farmers who do not have enough money to purchase the readymade kits can improvise using locally available materials.

The advantages of using this technology are many when compared to the open field method. The structures use little space but give high yields and keep out insects hence reducing the risk of pests and diseases.

In addition, the crops have a shorter maturation period and a longer shelf life. All these culminate into a bumper harvest all year round which enhances food security making this method of farming an effective way of fighting hunger and poverty in the country.

Banks such as Equity Bank, KCB, Coop Bank and Faulu Kenya have been working in collaboration with green house manufacturers to give farmers loans for purchasing the kits.

The government also supports such ventures through the youth fund and women enterprise fund.

A standard kit consisting of a 8m by 15m structure, drip lines, tank, seeds, fertilizer and soil preparation goes for about Sh100,000.