The 10m by 15m structure of the Murang’a farm in central Kenya is made of wood and polyethylene sheeting for the walls and roof.
The polyethylene material that wears out can cause you to be rejected from a distance, but that’s until you get close. Inside the makeshift greenhouse are dozens of thriving fruit seedlings.
Seedlings made up of grapes and apples, among others, are lush and healthy green, compared to others that are in the open field.
“I have over 500 seedlings here,” said farmer Peter Ng’ang’a, a specialist in seedling propagation, recently. âI switched to greenhouse cultivation three years ago to escape the bad weather that was killing my crops,â he added.
Since he didn’t have at least 150,000 shillings (US $ 1,500) to purchase a factory-made steel structure, he improvised the greenhouse using locally available materials.
âI bought some wooden poles, nails, wire ties and the polythene blanket, then I hired a carpenter to do the job,â said Ng’ang’a, who spent US $ 200 for the structure that protected its crops from climatic variability.
Ng’ang’a is one of dozens of small farmers in this East African country who have adopted makeshift structures to produce food and harvest agribusiness.
Inside structures made of shade nets or polyethylene sheets, farmers mainly cultivate horticultural crops like tomatoes, onions, cucumbers and peppers and fruits like strawberries, in addition to seedlings.
It is these farmers who are currently supplying the markets in this East African country, as most of the crops grown in the fields were destroyed by heavy rains last season.
âI made my own greenhouse last year from wooden poles and shade netting and planted tomatoes, which I harvested this month and sold a kilo for $ 1, double the price. normal, âsaid Antony Musau, a farmer from Kitengela, south of Nairobi, adding that he made some $ 1,200 from his 8m by 15m greenhouse.
The past year has been one of the worst for Kenyan farmers as the weather was extremely irregular. The country experienced a very dry period between January and April followed by a short rainy season and a wave of extreme cold, according to the weather service.
These weather conditions inaugurated a long period of rains from October 2019 to January 2020 which washed away the crops.
With the erratic weather conditions, new pests and diseases have not only emerged, but crops have been affected by climatic challenges.
Those who grew crops in greenhouses, however, have been protected from climatic losses and are among those who sell produce like tomatoes, which have soared to an all-time high of $ 0.50 for three coins.
âGreenhouses protect crops from extreme weather conditions such as drought, heavy rains or cold, allowing plants to thrive. They are part of climate smart agriculture because a farm is irrigated and in an environment they can control, âsaid Beatrice Macharia, agronomist at Growth Point, an agribusiness firm in County of. Kajiado.
According to her, crops like tomatoes grow well in greenhouses because they need cool, dry places.
âInside the greenhouses, a farmer avoids diseases like downy mildew and mildew which are caused by rains and cold, hence he is assured of the harvest,â Macharia said.
She noted that most Kenyan farmers over the years have avoided structures due to their high costs, but climate change is pushing them to improvise to grow food. Final element