Capsicum Farming (pilipili hoho) in Kenya, all you need to know
Capsicum farming (called pilipili hoho in Kenya) are a hardy type of plant. It is rarely attacked by diseases or pests though it still needs proper preventive care. Capsicum farming in Kenya does best in hot areas the likes of the greater Eastern Province, Coastal region, temperate central areas etc.
Let’s look at Capsicum farming in Kenya from the nursery. You can make Sunken or Raised nurseries though most farmers prefer sunken nurseries because they retain water more than raised nurseries. After sowing the seeds, it will take about 2-3 weeks for them to germinate. Capsicums will be ready for transplanting within 6 weeks.
When making the nursery, add a small amount of totally dry goat/cow manure and mix it well with the top soil. It is usually good to mix the cow and goat manure. Adding manure on the nursery ensures a strong and healthy seedling hence a healthy capsicum (pilipili hoho) when transplanted.
Capsicum Farming in Kenya – Nursery
In a capsicum nursery, make sure the distance between the rows is about 1.5 inches. This will help leave enough space for watering and spraying
On spraying, if mornings are too cold, spray the nursery with a mild mix of mildew preventive herbicide. Do not spray anything else on the nursery; remember the seedlings are too weak for any strong sprays or fertilizers.
Capsicum Farming in Kenya – Transplanting
As usual, transplant in the evenings though this can also be done during the day with no adverse effects. One day before transplanting, harden the capsicum seedlings by reducing frequency of watering gradually, don’t do it abruptly. On the day of transplanting, wet the nursery enough to wet the soil and allow easy uprooting of the pilipili hoho seedling from the nursery without damaging the roots.
Have the farm field irrigated before planting to allow easy planting .
Planting on the farm field is done on wet furrows by pressing the seedling down with your index finger deep enough – roughly one inch this is by creating of irrigated furrows
Plant the seedlings on both sides of each furrow. Make sure the capsicum seedlings are planted close to the floor of the furrow to make sure the plant has maximum uptake of irrigated water.
Note that the just transplanted capsicums will loose the first 2-3 leaves, just like kid loosing milk teeth J . So it should not worry you if you see the plants loosing the 2-3 bottom leaves like on the above picture. Notice the 1st and 2nd bottom leaves are browning and will drop off.
Capsicum Farming in Kenya – Diseases and Pests
Early/Late Blight (farmers call it “baridi” in swahili)
This makes the leaves start folding up. That means less photosynthesis, hence a poor fruit and crop. At the end, low harvest.
Spider Mites attack:
These are very small red mites. They mostly survive in hot weather and under intense heat and windy conditions can quickly multiply and spread even to nearby farms. During dry weather farmers can spend lots of money on sprays to prevent or cure spider mite attacks.
Note that spider mites can be extensively destructive, clearing a whole crop at any stage. They are a big headache to a farmer.
These mostly attack the flowers. They are less sited on capsicums but it is good to always spend some time hunting for them weekly. You will have to sample quite a number of flowers across the field. Hold the flower carefully and look inside for any insects.
White Flies Attack:
For White Flies, you can sight them early in the morning by tapping on the crops. You will see them flying off in big numbers. They have little effect on the crop.
They mostly come around during the rainy and cold seasons.
Capsicum Farming in Kenya – Fruiting and Harvest
The fruits never touch the wet furrows and hence fruit harvest maximization. Pilipili hoho can really be loaded with fruits
Keep the harvest in one place under a shade and then sort. Avoid direct sunlight otherwise you will end up with many rejects due to sun burns.
Capsicum Farming – Harvesting
Sort them into sacks or any other packaging material depending on your market request