Is managu farming in Kenya profitable?
How profitable is managu farming in Kenya? This post analyses the costs and farm profits of growing this traditional vegetable in one acre of land. It uses the cost-benefit farm profits formula.
Managu is one of the most important indigenous vegetables in Kenya. It has high nutrition, profit and medicinal values. In rural areas, it is usually a farmed weed or collected from the wild. Its high demand in towns alongside other local veggies like sagaa or mchicha has led to its commercial farming.
The black nightshade, as known in English, belongs to the Solanum family. It is closely related to tomatoes and Irish potatoes. It is rich in calcium and iron minerals. Besides, it has vitamins A and C, calcium, iron, protein, carbohydrates and lipids.
How profitable is managu farming in Kenya?
This section analyses the expected revenues, costs and profits of farming and marketing managu in Kenya.
To determine the total expected revenue, we will multiply the expected yield per acre by the average selling price per kg. One acre in Kenya can yield 4.8-8 tons of managu vegetables. The variation depends on the seed variety and agronomic practices by the farmer.
A kilogram of managu goes for an average of Ksh 10. You will therefore make revenues of between Ksh 48,000-80,000 in a season.
As a farmer, you will have a total cost of KES to grow to manage on one acre in Kenya. It arises from the costs of land preparation, seedbed preparation, transplanting, and crop nutrition. Other expenditures are crop nutrition, weed, pest and disease control and finally, harvesting and marketing. Details for each of these are as follows;-
Plan your crop calendar for maturity to coincide with the peak demand for managu greens. In Kenya, it lasts between December and March every year. Since it takes 60 days for the managu to mature after direct sowing or 30 days after transplanting, start your land preparation activities around September. Land preparation will involve; –
Rent additional farming land if you do not own any. To get the best, consider one near town and water sources. In areas that managu thrives, land rent goes for around Ksh 3,000-5,000 per acre.
Soil and water testing; A soil analysis will gauge the soil’s pH and its nutrients. The results will help you to buy the right fertilizers and compost. Second, you need portable water for irrigation and cleaning farm produce. You can do your Soil and water analysis DIY at home using water and soil testers you buy online. The alternative is to contract a private soil testing company.
Other steps of preparing land are a basal application of well-compost, ploughing and harrowing to make a fine tilth of the soil. To save on the cost of fertilizers, apply compost or planting fertilizer like DAP in planting holes. The cost of ploughing and harrowing using a tractor is Ksh 3,000.
It has the costs of growing healthy seedlings. It will involve preparing nursery beds, choosing seeds and managing the seedbed to raise healthy young managu plants.
An acre of land requires 50 grams of manage seed. Consider planting clean or certified seed from a registered seed company.
There are four types of black nightshade seed varieties in Kenya. These are;-
Solanum villosum; it’s grown in lowlands. It has edible orange-coloured fruits with small leaves.
Solanum americunum; is for farmers in hot and wet regions like around Lake Victoria and coastal areas. It produces small black fruits.
Solanum scabrum: its dominant features are its big sized leaves and black fruits. It thrives in medium-altitude areas with heavy rainfall. This type is unpopular in Kenya.
Solanum eldoreti; It has some of the broadest leaves. Common in high attitude areas. It produces small greenish fruits, which turn purple when ripe.
Make the seedbed in a piece where no Solanaceae crops have been grown in the last three years. Dig, level and mix the fine soil with well rotten compost. Make drills at a spacing of 10-20 cm apart. Sow seeds in the ditches, cover with light soil or manure and water. The seeds will germinate in 4-7 days. Continue caring for the nursery by thinning, weeding and watering for up to 30 days or when the crops have six real leaves or 10-15 cm in height when they are ready for transplanting. The recommended spacing for the black nightshade indigenous vegetable is 30 cm by 10-15 cm.
The total cost to establish a vegetable seedbed for 30 days is around Ksh 10,000
To prepare the planting holes, use the soil test analysis to get the best managu planting and topdressing fertilizers. The crop needs soils with good organic and moisture content.
Planting fertilizer, there are three (3) recommended doses you can consider for best crop yields. The first is 8 tons of manure per acre, 4 tons of compost and 40 kg of DAP fertilizer per acre or 75 Kg of DAP fertilizer per acre alone.
Topdressing, Use a nitrogen-based fertilizer or a foliar fertilizer to enhance the vegetative growth of leaves. The best you can use is 15 g per square meter of calcium ammonium nitrate (CAN) or sulphate of ammonia. Do it after the second weeding and have begun harvests.
Pest and disease control
Many pests and diseases affect managu yields in Kenya. The pests you must control are; root-knot nematodes, cutworms, flea beetles and aphids. The control methods include IPM, crop rotation and weeding. The stubborn ones like aphids need spraying using pesticides. Remember to observe the right post-harvest interval (PHI) days.
The bacterial blight and early blight are the worst diseases. You can control them using disease-free certified seeds. Other methods are crop rotation, right plant spacing, and field hygiene.
Managu requires 500 to 1200 mm of well-distributed rainfall throughout the growing period. During the dry period, substitute water supply by irrigation. The frequency will depend on the type of soil. Sandy soil needs three times, sandy loam soil, twice a week and clay and loam soils only once a week. Drip irrigation and sprinkling irrigation systems are efficient, as they conserve water.
Managu crops have many costs of work for land preparation to harvesting. These are for transplanting, weeding, fertilizer application and harvesting. Besides, you will need workers to clean, sort, grade and package it into small bundles for marketing or storage. The total costs of growing managu are around Ksh
Managu matures in 30 days after transplanting. You harvest the leaves by plucking the growing tips to encourage branching. Depending on water and crop nutrition, you can pick this horticulture product once or twice each week for 3 to 4 months. Fruits are ready to harvest when they are ripe and turned black or purple to get propagation seeds.
Gross and profits
A managu farmer will make Ksh as gross profits. It is after deducting the total costs of Ksh from the total revenues above.
To get net profits, we further deduct other costs like transport and field visits. These amount to Ksh giving you net profits of Ksh