EggPlant Farming in Kenya

Eggplant, known as biringani in Swahili is a member of the nightshade family. Eggplant is a glossy, purple skinned fruit though there are those that come in green, white or stripped colours depending on the variety. It is a warm season fruit that is suitable for cultivation in many regions of Kenya and the world in general.

Variety Selection

Choosing the right eggplant variety is crucial for successful farming. Varieties differ in fruit size, shape, colour, and maturity time, allowing farmers to select those best suited for their growing conditions and market preferences. Some of the popular eggplant varieties include;

  • Black beauty

This variety produces large, dark purple fruits with a smooth glossy skin. It has an excellent flavour and is also very productive. It takes 100 days from transplanting to harvesting. It has a longer shelf life.

  • Long Purple

As the name suggests, this variety produces elongated, slender fruits with a deep purple colour. It takes about 70-80 days from transplanting to harvesting. It is well suited for grilling and roasting.

  • White egg

This variety produces small to medium-sized eggplants with a creamy white colour. It has a mild flavour and tender texture.

Soil Preparation

Eggplants thrive in well-drained, fertile soils that have a pH level of between 6.0 and 6.8. Before planting, it’s essential to prepare the soil by incorporating organic matter such as compost or aged animal manure to improve soil structure and fertility. It is important to take a soil test before getting into the farming as it helps you determine nutrient and pH levels, allowing you to make any necessary amendments before planting.

Planting and Spacing

Eggplants can be propagated from seeds or transplants. When propagating from seeds, start the seeds for about 6-8 weeks before transplanting them. When planting the eggplants, space them about 18-24 inches apart in rows with 24-36 inches between rows to allow for proper air circulation and growth. Proper spacing helps prevent overcrowding, which can lead to increased pest and disease pressure and reduced yields.

Watering and Fertilization

Eggplants require consistent moisture throughout the growing season to ensure healthy growth and fruit development. You can water deeply at least twice or thrice a week, depending on rainfall and soil moisture levels.

Fertilize eggplants regularly with a balanced fertilizer to provide essential nutrients for optimal growth and fruit production. Side-dress with compost or a nitrogen-rich fertilizer every 4-6 weeks during the growing season to support vigorous growth.

Pests and Disease Management

Like many crops, eggplants are susceptible to a range of pests and diseases that can affect yield and quality if not properly managed. Some of the common eggplant pests include flea beetles, aphids, spider mites and tomato horn worms. Diseases such as bacterial wilt, Verticillium wilt, and powdery mildew can also pose challenges.

Regular scouting and early intervention are key to preventing pest and disease outbreaks and minimizing damage to the crop.

Harvesting and Post-harvest handling

Eggplants are typically ready for harvest 60-80 days after transplanting, depending on the variety and growing conditions. Harvest the fruits when they are firm, glossy, and fully mature before the seeds become hard and bitter. Cut the fruit from the plant, leaving a short stem attached. Handle your harvested eggplants with care to avoid damage. Store them in a cool place to extend their shelf life.

Eggplants are best consumed fresh but can also be stored up in refrigerators for longer-term storage.

“Where do I sell my eggplants?”

The market for eggplants can vary depending on factors such as location, consumer preferences, and market demand. Here are some potential markets where you can sell your eggplants, however.

  • ·      Grocery stores and Supermarkets

Many grocery stores and supermarkets source their produce locally or regionally to meet consumer demand for fresh, high-quality fruits and vegetables. You can contact local grocery stores or supermarket chains to inquire about selling your eggplants through their produce department.

  • ·      Restaurants and Food service providers.

Restaurants, catering companies, and other food service providers often purchase large quantities of fresh produce to use in their dishes. Establish relationships with local chefs and food service businesses to supply them with fresh eggplants for their menus.

  • ·      Online Marketplaces

E- commerce platforms are a good market space to sell your produce directly to consumers. Make use of them accordingly.

  • ·      Food Processing companies

In addition to selling your fresh egg plants, you can also consider selling processed eggplants products such as pickled eggplant, eggplant spreads, or frozen eggplant slices. Establish connection with food processing companies to supply them with quantities of eggplants for processing into value-added products.

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