Pepper farming is one of the less ventured agribusiness areas in Kenya although it is well known for its high net worth in the market. In relation to fetching good money in the market one needs to know that red pepper requires specific climate conditions accompanied with very high managerial practices in order to have a profitable and quality yield.
Conditions for Growing Pepper
- Needs a well-drained cracking clay soil with a pH of 6.0-6.5. Slightly acidic.
- Requires an optimum temperature ranging from 15°C-25°. In the Kenyan context the low night temperature experienced in the month of July-August is favorable for pepper growth.
- Grows well in altitudes of up to 2000m.
- Also requires a good irrigation system incase water is a limitation especially in semi- arid areas
- First prepare a seed nursery that is 1m wide and required length depending on the farmer. Make drills measuring 15cm apart. Sow the seeds and cover them lightly with soil. For this, manure and phosphate fertilizer is adequate. Mulch the seed bed with water at least once every day. Also to produce sturdy pepper, thinning is done at 15cm apart.
- Spacing required is 75cm by 45cm where in an acre it can accommodate 10000 plants.
- Field preparation should be adequately done and basic fertilizers applied; i.e. 1 to 2 handfuls of manure per hole, 250kg/ha of double super phosphate fertilizer while sowing and after reaching a height of 15cm, apply 100kg/ha of C.A.N fertilizer and later after 4 weeks apply 200kg/ha of C.A.N
- Farmer advised to carry out mulch to prevent splash and retain soil moisture.
Seedling takes 21 days to germinate where they take 45 days in the nursery and 90 days to mature. One acre production estimate is worth Kshs. 150,000 where in normal conditions, the yield is equal to 10,000 heads. The market measuring up to now is excellent both locally and internationally. Use of recommended pesticides is advised to fight off diseases such as powdery mildew, physiological disorder and viral complex.
Harvesting starts from 3 months after planting and continues to be harvested 2-3 months for chilies and 4-6 months for capsicum. Mature pepper are harvested when filled out and still green or when they have just turned red. Also, a lot of care is required while packaging to avoid damaging the fruit and shriveling.
Pepper is used as mild flavoring and as a vegetable in stew, scuffled with meat or vegetable salads. Chilies can also be used in seasoning food. When pepper farming is adequately practiced, it can meet the market demand where one can earn a profitable income.