This article focuses on okra farming in Kenya. Okra is a green seed pod vegetable that is also known as ladyfingers. It can be consumed in its raw green nature as a vegetable or used as a spice in salads, soups etc.
It is mainly grown in semi-arid areas in Kenya. It is still a new crop that has not been embraced by many farmers in the country. It can be a very good option for vegetable farmers, apart from the normal vegetables that are widely grown in the country.
Okra has a lot of nutritional benefits. It contains components that reduce the risk of getting cancer and heart diseases. It also aids in lowering blood sugar levels. It’s rich in fibre, folic acid and vitamin B.
Varieties of okra grown in Kenya
There are various types of okra grown in Kenya. This includes;
- Pusa Sawani.
- Clemson spineless.
- White velvet.
- Dwarf green variety.
Conditions necessary for growing okra
- Well-drained sandy or loam soils with a pH of about 5.8 to 6.5. The soil needs to be prepared 2 months before planting happens. This is to pave enough time for organic matter to decompose.
- A temperature of at least 19°c. The optimum temperature should be between 24°c to 30°c.
- During the first two months of growing, it requires about 400 mm of water.
How okra is grown
Okra can be sown directly in the field. Okra seedlings can either be grown in nursery seedbeds or on plastic trays.
Planting holes should be about 1.5cm deep, with proper spacing, approximately 50cm by 30cm.
It is possible to intercrop okra with other crops such as groundnuts, cowpeas and other legumes. You need to ensure proper spacing between the crops.
Okra yields and harvest
Okra has a maturity period of 60 days. Pods will start flowering upon maturity. The pods need to be harvested early in the morning, this is 4 to 6 days after flowering.
The average yield of okra is 40 to 50 t/acre. It all depends on how you space your plants.