Looking to start garlic farming in Kenya?

The garlic farming industry is growing in Kenya. Today, Kenya has become one of the leading producers of garlic in the world.

Kenya’s climate and soil conditions are suitable for garlic production.

Therefore, garlic has become a popular and profitable crop in Kenya because of its versatility. It is used in several dishes.

It also has some medicinal properties and serves as a natural insect repellent – It keeps pests away from crops.

Garlic farming is a great way of making money as it is a labor-intensive process.

However, farmers must in the preparation of the soil, plant the garlic, and care for the crop throughout the growing season.

When the bulbs are dry, harvest the garlic.

In this article, you will learn all about the unique climate and soil conditions in Kenya as well as production techniques to help you become a successful garlic producer.

Climatic Conditions For Garlic Farming In Kenya

There are certain climatic conditions that are good for growing garlic.  

So before a farmer starts a garlic farm, there’s a need to find out if the climate is ideal for producing garlic. 

So what conditions are ideal for garlic production by farmers in Kenya?

Let’s look at conditions that must be met by farmers for garlic to grow very well.

Temperature

The ideal temperature for garlic growth should be between 45 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Garlic does not tolerate extreme temperatures. It doesn’t do well in very hot temperatures.

So it is important for garlic producers to keep the temperature within acceptable ranges. 

Humidity

Garlic enjoys a humid environment between 50 and 70 percent. If the humidity is too low, the garlic does not grow very well. 

Sunlight

Garlic requires a minimum of 6 hours of direct sunlight every day in order to grow healthy. 

So If a farmer’s garlic does not receive enough sunlight, it will not grow properly. 

Read also: Capsicum farming in Kenya

Common Varieties Of Garlic Grown In Kenya

There are varieties of garlic grown in Kenya and each variety requires different methods and techniques. 

However, the common ones produced in Kenya are softneck, hardneck, and elephant garlic.

Softneck garlic

Softneck garlic - garlic farming in Kenya

The softneck garlic has long, white bulbs and thin, papery skin. 

It is harvested when it reaches 120 days and can yield up to 40 cloves per bulb.

Softneck garlic is in high demand because of its versatility. It is used in both raw and cooked dishes. 

It is slightly different from other types of garlic. This type has a milder flavor than other garlic varieties. 

Hardneck garlic

Hardneck garlic - garlic farming in Kenya

Hardneck garlic has a thick skin and large cloves. It matures in about 120 days.

It can yield up to 8 cloves per bulb. This is a great choice for cooking because of its strong flavor.

Hardneck has a stronger flavor than softneck garlic. 

Thus it is often used in pickling. It is also used as a flavoring agent in some dishes.

Elephant garlic 

Elephant garlic 

The name speaks volumes about this variety of garlic. This is a large, white variety of garlic. 

The Elephant garlic is white in color. They mature in about 5 or 6 months. It can yield up to 50 cloves per bulb.

Garlic Farming Profit Per Acre In Kenya

Garlic farming is a lucrative industry in Kenya.  It has the potential to generate a significant profit per acre. 

Normally, the average profit per acre of garlic farming in Kenya is estimated is usually between Ksh. 80,000 and Ksh. 100,000. 

Garlic is relatively easy to cultivate. Labor costs are low, as garlic farming does not require a large amount of labor.

The cost of inputs and equipment is affordable. 

This makes it a great option for farmers who want to make a profit from their investments.

So the potential for profit per acre of garlic farming in Kenya is high, and this is due to the fact that garlic is in high demand in the country. 

The high demand means that farmers can sell their garlic at high prices thereby making a profit.

Best Soil For Garlic Farming In Kenya

Galic flourishes in well-draining, rich in organic matter, and slightly acidic soil. 

The soil should have a pH of 6.0 to 7.0. The best soil for growing garlic is sandy loam soil. 

But do not grow your garlic in clay soil. Clay soil is dense and so it can make the garlic rot.

Make sure to add compost, manure, and other organic materials to the soil to improve its fertility. 

Land Preparation For Garlic Cultivation

Before you plant your garlic, it is important that you prepare the land properly.

You will have to make sure that you loosen the soil with a hoe. Then add organic matter to improve aeration and drainage.

Once you are done, level off the planting area so that the garlic cloves can be evenly spaced.

Water Requirements For Garlic Farming In Kenya

Garlic requires moderate water for healthy growth. But it does not excessive water as this may result in root rot.

Checking the level of water regularly will help you determine whether you need to water your garlic or not.

When checking the level of water, ensure that the water is moist but not wet. The soil should not be dry.

Generally speaking, garlic plants require around 1 to 2 inches of water in 1 week.

Plant Spacing Standard

As you plant your garlic, it is imperative to consider the distance between plants. 

The rule of thumb is that you should plant the cloves between 8 to 15 centimeters away from each other. 

You’ll want to leave approximately 30 to 40 centimeters between each row. 

This allows the garlic to grow properly without crowding.

This will give you enough space to walk between the rows without damaging the garlic plants.

Mulching In Garlic

Mulching is an integral agricultural activity. It is necessary as it helps to retain moisture in the soil.

Mulching also prevents weeds from growing and protects the garlic plants from extreme weather conditions.

What is the right thickness for mulching garlic?

The ideal thickness for mulching garlic is approximately 2 or 3 inches. 

Mulching is also prevents diseases. It keeps the garlic plants warm and dry.

Therefore, it helps to prevent fungal diseases from taking attacking the garlic.

So, make sure to mulch your garlic plants well to ensure a healthy and bumper harvest.

Manures And  Fertilizer Of Garlic

Manures and fertilizers will give your garlic the necessary nutrients to help you have a bumper garlic harvest.

Garlic needs compost for healthy growth. Compost adds organic matter to the soil and improves drainage and moisture retention.

Simply apply a layer of compost around the plants, and then water them problem.

What kind of fertilizer is the best fit for garlic?

There are types of fertilizers. But there are fertilizers designed specifically for garlic. So use fertilizers designed for garlic.

The rule of thumb is that you should apply them every 4 to 6 weeks.

How To Grow Garlic In Bags

If you’re looking for a technique of farming garlic that is easy, then growing garlic in bags may be a great option for you. 

There are several garlic varieties that are ideal for growing in bags. The common varieties are music garlic and purple glazer garlic.

But you will have to find out the one that is ideal for growing in the locality.

Once you have chosen the ideal variety, find bags to use.

Fill the bags with a mix of potting soil and compost. Make sure that you have drainage holes in the bottom.

The cloves should be planted two inches deep. Then water them well and place the bags in a sunny area.

When the garlic starts growing, make sure that the drainage holes in the bottom of the bags are not becoming clogged. 

Harvesting Of Garlic

How do you tell that the garlic is ready for harvesting?

When garlic is ready for harvesting, the leaves usually become yellow. 

So when you notice that the leaves are yellow, simply cut the garlic plant about 1 or 2 inches above the ground.

Then remove the garlic bulbs from the plant. After they are removed, brush off the dirt.

Best Season Of Planting Garlic

The best time for garlic producers to grow garlic is in the fall. 

Why? 

Because the cooler temperatures make it easier for garlic cloves to form roots. 

But what about spring?

Spring is also a great season for planting garlic. However, warmer temperatures usually cause the cloves to sprout prematurely.

What considerations should a farmer make when planting garlic?

When planting, make sure that the cloves are pointing up and they’re about two inches deep in the soil.

Pests And Diseases Of Garlic

Pests

Spider mites

spider mites - garlic farming in Kenya

Spider mites are small, spider-like pests that range in color from red to brown. They damage garlic plants extensively.

Signs

  • Small webbing on the leaves of garlic plants.

Treatment

  • Get rid of the infected plants and spread insecticides on the infected plants.

Aphids

Aphids in garlic - garlic farming in Kenya

Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects. They have small, long, slender bodies and can reproduce quickly. 

They suck the sap from the leaves and stems. This results in the weakening of the plant.

Signs

  • Yellowing or curling of leaves.
  • Stunted growth.
  • Black sooty mold on the leaves. 

Treatment

  • Get rid of the affected leaves.
  • Apply insecticidal soap to the affected leaves.

Whiteflies

Whiteflies

Whiteflies are small, winged insects. They have white wings and yellowish bodies. 

They feed on the sap of plants and this causes leaves to yellow and wilt. 

Signs

  • A white, powdery substance on the leaves.
  • Stunted growth.

Treatment

  • Use Insecticidal soap to kill Whiteflies.
  • Whiteflies die when they come in contact with Insecticidal soap.

Diseases

White rot

White rot in garlic

White rot is a fungal infection called Sclerotium cepivorum. 

This fungus attacks the garlic plant at the base of the stem, resulting in the rotting of the plant.

It affects the leaves and flowers of the plant. As a result, they turned white. 

If left unchecked, the plant eventually dies.

Signs

A white color on leaves and flowers. The plant rotting at the base of the stem. 

Treatment

  • Plant your garlic in well-drained soil. 
  • The fungus flourishes in wet conditions.
  • So you need to keep the garlic plant dry. 
  • If you spot an infected, get rid of the infected plants to prevent the further spread of the fungus.

Black rot

Black rot in garlic

Black rot is a fungal disease. The fungus attacks usually attack the bulb of the plant.

This disease is defined by the yellowing of leaves, blackened stems, and blackened bulbs. 

The fungus is detrimental. It has the potential to cause a garlic plant to rot from the inside out.

Black rot is caused by poorly drained soil, contaminated seed, or water. The fungus typically spreads by wind, rain, or insects.

Signs 

  • Yellowing of leaves, blackened stems, and blackened bulbs. 
  • Rotting of garlic from the inside out.

Treatment 

  • Get rid of the infected plant.
  • Spread fungicides to prevent the spread of the disease.

Downy Mildew

Downy Mildew in garlic

Downy mildew is a fungal infection. This disease attacks the leaves and the bulbs of the plant.

It forms a white or gray mold on the surface of the plant and it causes the leaves to yellow and dies eventually.

This fungus is spread by wind or water. It can also be spread by particles from infected plants.

Signs

  • Yellowing of the leaves. 
  • Formation of the white or gray mold. 

Treatment

  • Spread fungicides on the infected leaves or bulbs of the garlic plant.

Final Thoughts On Garlic Farming In Kenya

The garlic farming industry is a profitable business venture in Kenya. If farmers employ the right techniques and methods, they can make a profit.

Garlic producers in Kenya have a market for their garlic locally. But they can also export their produce.

The increase in demand is a result of the nutritional benefits associated with garlic consumption.

So if you want to make money from the garlic farming industry, ensure that the climatic conditions are available and maintained:

Temperature

The temperature should be between 45 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Humidity

The humid environment is between 50 and 70 percent. 

Sunlight

Garlic requires a minimum of 6 hours of direct sunlight in a day. 

Soil

The soil should be slightly acidic, with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0.

The production of garlic does not require expensive equipment, making it a highly profitable business venture. 

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