Dragon farming in kenya

Intensive Dragon Fruit Farming in Kenya

Dragon fruit a member of the cactus family from the genus hylocerous is succulent plant that is native to Mexico, Central America and South America. It has since spread across the world and is grown in India, Sri Lanka, Israel and Vietnam and Thailand. Dragon fruit is a new crop in Kenya that has promising returns to price conscious farmers.  Whereas there are many varieties of dragon fruit grown across the world, the variety that has been introduced in Kenya is hylocerous undatus.

Dragon fruit is a succulent climbing plant that can grow to a maximum of four meters. It produces a brightly colored pink fruit with a fleshy white pulp peppered with black seeds similar to those of the kiwi fruit on the inside. It advisable to train the Dragon fruit plant to grow to the height of your trellis or your physical support for maximum production, sunlight exposure and ease of harvesting after production.

Dragon fruit can grow in extreme temperatures and relatively poorer soils than most fruit plants can withstand. The plant requires approximately 400 to 600mm of annual rainfall meaning the crop can do well in most arid and semi-arid areas in Kenya such as the coastal counties, Lower Eastern region and parts of North Eastern Region. Dragon fruit does well in most well drained soils but optimal growth is experienced in sandy soils with a pH between 5.5 and 6.5.

Dragon plant is planted on a raised bed next to a trellis or support to train its orientation during growth. Supports used include 1 to 1.5 meter concrete polls with a concrete ring at the top or metallic poles or sturdy wooden poles with a waste tire affixed at the top. Up to four dragon fruit plants can be supported by one trellis support beam. Spacing between the dragon fruit supports is 2m while spacing between lines is 4m. I acre can accommodate a plant population of about 2,000 plants

Dragon fruit plant matures after 1 year and can stay in production for up to 30 years.  The dragon fruit plant typically requires approximately 12 hours of sunlight, blooms in the evenings and at night and therefore pollination done by nocturnal pollinators such as moths and bats and rarely by bees. The fruit changes color 27- 30 days after pollination and is ready to be harvested approximately 5 days after. Ready fruit should be picked immediately. Delayed picking leads to the onset of rotting even while on the plant stem.

In Kenya dragon fruit is retailing at KES 1000/kg which contains approximately three or four fruits. This is a lucrative farming opportunity for the discerning farmer. Purchase your dragon fruit seedlings from Oxfarm organic at KES 500 per seedling.

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