In an effort to combat hostile environment and over-reliance on rain fed agriculture, farmers in dry areas are gradually shifting into greenhouse farming.
In Mwingi West Sub-County, falling crop yields and perennial dry spells pushed Justin Munuve to shift from relying on rain fed agriculture to greenhouse farming.
Speaking to KNA at his farm in Migwani on Tuesday, Munuve said he started greenhouse farming in 2010 and has never looked back.
“I constructed a greenhouse of 8m by 30m using locally available materials. I planted 1, 000 tomato seedlings. I was making around Sh 60, 000 per month. Since then, I embraced greenhouse farming fully, “he said with a beaming smile.
Munuve observed that small-scale farmers, who have embarked on greenhouse farming, can now maximize their yield while using less farming space and pesticides.
He said effects of climate change in Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs) will be mitigated by the greenhouse revolution that ensures that farming continues in spite of the weather.
“A greenhouse made from locally sourced materials is less expensive with a lifespan of 3-5 years depending on the quality of materials used,” says Munuve.
He noted that greenhouse tomatoes can mature in two months while the minimum time taken for those farmed outdoors is three months.
“The quality of crop after picking is better too. Greenhouse tomatoes enjoy 21 shelf life days compared to 14 for those grown in the open,” adds Munuve, who is the Chairman of Bestrock Sacco, Mwingi Branch.
He added that the controlled climate in greenhouses delivers high yield and uniform maturity with over 90 per cent of yield guaranteed year round.
Munuve, who also doubles up as the Chairman of 300 Greenhouse Farmers’ Association drawn from Kitui, Tharaka Nithi and Meru Counties, admitted that the technology was helping rural economies grow and break free from the shackles of poverty.
The greenhouse is built parallel to the wind direction to ensure plants are not ruined by the rough winds.
Munuve has sunk a borehole in his farm to guarantee him unrestricted water supply.
By Yobesh Onwong’a