Okra Farming

Okra Farming

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INTRODUCTION

Okra is also known as Ghana: Okro; Swahili: Bamia, Binda. Okra is popular in India, West Africa and Brazil. Okra, also called lady’s fingers, is mainly grown for its young immature pods, which are consumed as a vegetable, raw, cooked or fried. The leaves are sometimes used as spinach or cattle feed, the fibres from the stem for cord, the plant mucilage (thick gluey substance) for medical and industrial purposes, and the seeds as a substitute for coffee.

PRODUCTION

Varieties Pusa sawani, Clemson spineless, Green Emerald2, White velvet
Seed Rate 8 – 10 kg of seed per hectare
Fertilizer Rate 120 kg/ha NPK, Top dressed using 140 kg of CAN
Planting Spacing 45×45 cm
Husbandry Thorough soil preparation 2 to 3 months before planting is recommended. Okra plants may be established by direct seeding in the field, by growing seedlings in nursery seedbeds or by raising seedlings in plastic trays. To facilitate speedy germination, okra seed should be soaked in water overnight before planting. Applying NPK (17:17:17) at flowering is recommended. Okra is harvested over a long period and weed control is important throughout the cropping season.
Pest & Diseases Pest Name Symptoms Control
Cutworms Cut plants. Also find worms during dawn. Use insecticides
Maturity Duration 1.5 – 2 Months
Climatic Conditions Okra is grown at elevations ranging from sea level to 1600m and temperatures of 24 and 30°C. Okra will grow on a wide range of soils, but it prefers soils high in organic matter. When grown in sandy soils, it must be frequently fertilised. Its optimum range of soil pH is between 5.8 and 6.5. Okra is sensitive to salinity. Okra can grow in a wide range of rainfall regimes, but needs 400 mm of water for the growing period of about 3 months.
Harvesting Pods are ready for harvesting about 4 to 6 days after flowering. Pods are harvested when still tender and on attaining length of 7 to 15 cm, depending on variety and market requirements. The crop will bear pods for several months under ideal conditions, especially when mature pods are picked regularly. Harvesting normally continue 45 days after the first harvest. Regular picking every 1 to 2 days is essential to ensure pods are within the size prescribed by the market. Okra should not be harvested when it is raining or excessively wet. Excess moisture can induce mould development on the pods and the cut petioles. Okra pods decay quickly; therefore they should be harvested within a day to marketing. Harvesting is done by hand. The pods can be snapped off or cut off, leaving a small stalk not longer than one cm. The pods must be handled carefully otherwise they may be bruised and may discolour.
Post Harvest and Storage It is best to pick pods into a waist bag to reduce skin damage and to avoid excessive bending of the pods. Wearing rubber gloves when harvesting and handling pods is recommended. This will protect the skin from irritating sap produced by okra plant.
Growing Regions Nyanza and Eastern under irrigation.
Expected yields 15 to 20 t/ha

PROCESSING

Processing The pods can be conserved by drying or pickling.

MARKETING

Place The main export season in Kenya is October to May
Price Kshs 70 per kg

CONSUMPTION

Products and uses Common ingredient of soups and sauces.
Nutritional value – per 100 g / % Daily Values Okra seeds contain a considerable amount of good quality oil and protein.

FACTS & FIGURES

Okra originated in Ethiopia and was farmed by Egyptians by 12 century BC.

BUSINESS CASE

Income Per Hectare: Kshs 1,050,000 (15,000kgs * 70/-)Cost per Hectare: Kshs. 400,000 (40% of Income).NET:    Kshs. 650,000 (60% of Income).

Break Even Yield (Where Cost=Income): = 5500 kgs per hectare.

Income Frequency: Twice per year. Thrice under irrigation.