Watermelon farming has created a great opportunity in Agribusiness in Kenya today. It is one of the fastest selling agricultural products in the international market and locally as well. Watermelon is widely cultivated and consumed all over the globe.
The demand for watermelons are high which is very encouraging to farmers. Watermelon is easy to cultivate as it does not involve much work. It has the capacity to make a farmer wealthy within the shortest possible time.
Kenya has a great abundance of land, resources, and climatic variations that enable it to grow different varieties of food and cash crops in its agricultural sector. One of such agribusiness that contributes to the food and economic value of the country is Watermelon farming in Kenya.
If you are considering crops to cultivate and harvest within the shortest possible time like pepper, okra, cucumber etc for quick cash don’t forget to put watermelon in your cart. It can be grown anywhere in Kenya and can also be cultivated all year round. The sweetness and crispy nature makes it a well favoured and preferable fruit.
Details About Watermelon Farming
Watermelon farming is the cultivation of watermelons for food and cash purposes.
The watermelon is a plant that can grow anywhere in Kenya, causing the demand for it to stay rising, which invariably drives up the production capacity of the leading local producers.
The opportunity watermelon farming in Kenya has provided for the populace has caused several farmers to venture into its cultivation.
Health Details Of Watermelons: Watermelon contains vitamin A which is very good for the eye and also vitamin C which is very good for the skin and hair. It contains Lycopene an antioxidant that prevents the skin from sunburn. Watermelon contains more than 90% of water which helps in digestion, heart problems and metabolic deficiencies.
Water Melon Varieties
1). Sugar Baby Watermelon: This type of watermelon weighs around 8-10 pounds and takes a period of about 78 days to fully mature. They are also called icebox type because of their small size, since they are small enough to fit into a refrigerator. This sugar baby watermelon usually has flavour red flesh and a light green rind with dark stripes.
2). Crimson Sweet Watermelon: This type of watermelon weighs around 25kg and takes a period of about 85-90 days to fully mature. The crimson sweet is largely known for its large sugar content and bright deep red flesh. When more than one row of crimson sweet is to be planted, they should only be planted at about 36 to 60 inches apart.
3). Charleston Gray: This type of watermelon usually grows yearly at a maximum height of 1.46. On average they weigh about 25kg and may take up to 85 days to mature. The Charleston Gray has red, fiberless flesh and a tough, medium-thick grey green rind often used for making watermelon rind pickles.
4). Yellow Crimson sweet:; This type of watermelon is originally from Africa. They can weigh around 13.6kg and may take up to 80 days to mature. This type of watermelon has bright yellow-orange flesh with large black seeds, an excellent flavour, and moderate sugar content.
How To Start Watermelon Farming Business
1). Acquire A Farmland:
The first step to planting watermelons is to acquire a rich wide expanse of land. It is important to find a sunny spot because Watermelon plants require full sunlight and a well-drained soil to grow properly. They can also be planted on ridges/beds based on the type of soil. Watermelons won’t grow well in waterlogged soil, and the soil should also have a good amount of organic matter in it, especially manure, as these will give the plants the nutrients they require.
2). Watermelon Seed Planting:
Watermelon seeds can be planted directly outside. Under a soil temperature of at least 70°F and prefer a soil pH between 6 and 6.8. This will avoid poor germination. If more than one row will be planted, they can be spaced at 6 feet by 6 feet apart. The best watermelon planting period are March, May, June, July, and September.
3). Taking Good Care Of The Crop:
Some things to do to care for the watermelon crop during its growth stages are:
i. Using black plastic to keep the soil warm, prevent weed growth, and ensure the developing fruits are kept clean.
ii. As the watermelon plants are growing, blooming, and setting fruit, you need to ensure they get 1 to 2 inches of water every week.
iii. The soil must be kept moist, but not waterlogged. You should strive to water at the vine’s base every morning, but avoid over -watering or wetting the leaves. The moment you realise the fruits are growing, you should reduce watering, especially as dry weathers usually produces the sweetest watermelons.
iv. In your application of fertilizer, ensure it more nitrogen than phosphorus and potassium is applied. But when flowering starts, switch to a fertilizer with less nitrogen.
v. As the watermelon fruit starts to ripen, you can prevent rot by carefully lifting it and putting straw in between the fruit and the soil.
Watermelons ripen within 2 weeks after they are picked. To know if the watermelons are ripe, either tap the watermelon to see if it sounds hallow, check the colour as a ripe melon will have a yellowish cream colored bottom, or observe when the vines start to wither.
What Are The Challenges Of Watermelon Farming In Kenya
Some of the challenges of Watermelon farming in Kenya include:
1. Weed control.
2. Marketing challenges.
3. Low and unstable investment in agricultural research.
4. Financial challenges.
5. Lack of experience.
6. Pest and diseases.
Watermelon farming in Kenya can be a lucrative and profitable agribusiness, due to its vast market demands and largely on your own ability to build a wide supply chain network. If you’re looking for an agribusiness to venture into, watermelon farming in Kenya is another option to explore.