When it comes to horticultural vegetable-growing, nursery management is a critical component determining the degree of success of any vegetable-farming venture. It doesn’t matter whether one is managing it on a commercial scale or for subsistence.
In our observation, farmers, over a long period of time, have established nurseries in the conventional way, using either raised or sunken beds on soil. Even though this method seems cost effective at a glance, it has been hampered by myriad challenges, including but not limited to extreme bad weather such as hail, as well as prevalence of soil-borne pests and diseases, in turn making it an unreliable and expensive way of propagating seedlings.
We must also never forget that unlike in the past where farmers largely grew vegetable crops for subsistence, they have now gone commercial. As a result, demand for high quality premium seeds has gone up, giving rise to a new focus area for seed merchants and commercial farmers alike; embracing the concept of plant population per unit area for optimum production. In response to this emerging trend, most of our hybrid seeds are now being packaged on the basis of seed count as opposed to weight basis – every seed counts!
Commercial growers have realised value for their money by growing our premium quality hybrid seeds such as hybrid tomato STAR 9065 F1, STAR 9068, STAR 9082, hybrid squash STAR 8021, cabbage KILIMO F1, hybrid pepper PREDI F1, brocettes ABELIA F1 and onion DOMINATOR F1. Due to increased probability for registering success, these farmers are no longer raising seedlings for themselves, but instead take their seed to professional nursery-raisers, who then raise quality seedlings for a fee.
But, we might ask, isn’t it expensive to incur this extra cost which can otherwise be avoided? A quick look across East Africa shows the emerging trend of farmers steadily embracing the concept of professional nurseries. From our professional point of view, this is the best way to farm as a business. We also encourage farmers to embrace the critical concept of considering optimum production per unit area by ensuring ideal spacing for correct plant population.
Through professional nurseries, farmers enjoy the benefit of sequential planting, as the nursery time is cut off. Advantages also include that seeds are subjected to optimum germination conditions, resulting in improved germination ability; the enclosed environment protects the seedlings from extreme weather vagaries as well as pests; and avoidance of transplanting shock that otherwise leads to stagnation or withering of plants. Other benefits include uniform germination, which translates to uniform ripening. Additionally, the mediums used by nursery raisers, usually coco peat and peat moss, are pest and disease-free, giving assurance to farmers that no pathogen can be transferred from the nursery to the main garden.
To sum it up, farmers can plan better since they know the number of seedlings they anticipate getting from the nursery well in advance as opposed to raising seedlings in the soil, which makes it difficult to establish the population.
In this edition, we have listed some of the leading professional nurseries in Kenya for your referral, segmented into our sales regions as follows:
Victoria farms – Kenol, Murang’a
Oak - Kabati, Murang’a
Helmon Dew - Kirigiti, Kiambu
Kimplanters - Makuyu, Murang’a & Ruiru
Gracerock - Rironi, Kiambu
Bakita - Ngong
Penagro - Ruiru
Warihiu ATC - Kiambu
Rift Valley region
AAA growers, Rumuruti
Mt. Kenya region
Sagana Plant Raisers, Kiangwacii
In Uganda, Agromax is the leading nursery operator.