Mango farming in Embu County, Kenya, has been a viable economic venture for the local community, providing delicious fruits to both local markets and international consumers. However, like any agricultural endeavor, mango farming faces its own set of challenges, including pests, diseases, and the changing market dynamics and restrictions. Farmers who are pursuing international markets must be adaptable to ensure that they still meet the export market standards, and this has clearly brought the need for a collective effort to explore sustainable farming practices.
In an exciting recent development, Koppert Kenya, in partnership with the Netherlands Embassy, the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS), and the Embu County Government hosted a unique capacity-building event - A Mango Farmers Training held on the 4th of October 2023. This event was geared towards empowering the mango farmers by offering knowledge, practical solutions, and sustainable strategies to address some of the most pressing issues in mango cultivation.
The Issues tackled included:
Export Market Insights: Majority of the mango farmers are looking to expand their horizons and tap into international markets, because of the attractive prices that Kenyan Mangoes fetch globally. Understanding export market standards and quality requirements is essential. Experts from KEPHIS provided insights on the requirements put in place by export market destination countries to ensure that produce was acceptable for these markets. This included highlighting that there was a Zero tolerance policy for fruit fly in the European and American markets, reiterating the need for utmost seriousness when combating the pest. Farmers were urged to form community groups that enforced measures to ensure all mango farmers employed the recommended measures of fruit fly control to avoid infestation from farm to farm. The Embu county government is willing to work with farmers in these groups to help them adhere to these stringent standards and open up new opportunities for their produce.
Effective Pest Management: One of the primary concerns for mango farmers was dealing with pests like fruit flies. These pests devastate the mango crops through quality degradation, leading to significant economic losses. At the training, Koppert experts shared and demonstrated innovative and sustainable pest management strategies for fruit fly which included Koppert Pherodis pheromones and traps that enable farmers to protect their crops sustainably.
Combatting Diseases: Mango trees are susceptible to diseases such as powdery mildew and anthracnose which can reduce fruit quality and yield. Farmers attending the training learned about sustainable disease prevention and control measures, of powdery mildew ensuring healthier and more productive mango trees.
Koppert's Bio-control Solutions: Koppert showcased their bio-control solutions, including pheromones, traps and soil health solutions. These sustainable alternatives enable farmers to reduce their reliance on chemical pesticides, promoting environmentally friendly and economically viable farming practices. Koppert held on-site farm demonstrations to showcase the proper use of the solutions to ensure maximum efficacy. All the farmers in attendance got product samples to take back to their farms from the training, courtesy of the Netherlands embassy, a move that was highly appreciated by the county government and the farmers themselves. This showed their commitment to supporting smallholder farmers in Kenya through collaboration with the government and the private sector.
The Mango Farmers Training was a unique opportunity for farmers in Embu to gain valuable knowledge, connect with experts, and access resources that transcended just mano cultivation. They also learned about Avocado and orange (Pixies) cultivation which made the event a very wholesome and farmer-led affair. By embracing sustainable practices and staying informed about the latest advancements in mango farming, farmers can ensure the long-term success and resilience of their mango orchards. This training event was one of many, and a stepping stone towards achieving that goal.