A story by victor Agagi
Commonly known as Dhania/Dania, coriander is among the most profitable vegetable spice to farm in Kenya. Dania is consumed in most households. It adds aroma and flavour to food. Therefore, it has a high demand in both local and international markets regardless of the season.
Market reports indicate that the market demand for coriander has gone up by over 40% in the recent past. This has translated into increased profit for farmers. Dania is considerably easy to grow and less costly. It can be grown both inside a greenhouse or in the open field. Considering a one-acre piece of land, a farmer would require seedling that costs approximately KS. 1000 and reaps a net profit of KS. 40,000.
Land should be properly ploughed and harrowed to attain proper tilth. Ideally, well-decomposed organic manure should be incorporated into the soil. The soil should be prepared flat to achieve a flatbed for planting. Before planting, the soil should be tested to determine its mineral composition.
Coriander requires nitrogenous (CAN) and phosphorus (DAP)fertilizers for vegetative growth and root development, respectively. In case there is a need for top dressing, it should be done in week three.
Seeds and Planting
It is recommended that a farmer obtain and use certified seeds from seed companies (Kenyan Highlands Seed Co., Kenya Seed Co., Simlaw Seeds, etc.). Certified seeds are usually free of pests and diseases. Also, certified seed increases the chances of getting quality yields.
After land preparation, seeds are sowed in rows at shallow depths of between 2.5cm and 3.5cm. The rows should be between 15cm and 30cm apart. It is advisable to plant seeds singly to avoid overcrowding. Besides, the plants can develop weak stems as well as turn yellow due to overcrowding. Mulching should be done before watering bed to avoid washing the seeds. Seeds germinate within the first ten days of planting. After which, the mulch is removed to avoid damaging young plants.
Thinning and Weeding. The excess plants should be removed when they are about 7 cm to 15 cm in height. This is done to avoid crowding and to help control weeds.
Watering. Coriander requires plenty of water and the growth response to adequate moisture distribution. Watering should be done just after sowing. Subsequent watering can be done three times a week. However, the moisture content of the soil should guide a farmer of when to adjust watering.
Pests and diseases. Few pest and diseases attack coriander. Coriander is attacked by common pests such as aphids and diseases such as soft rot, powdery mildew and leaf spot. However, maintaining field hygiene is essential and using certified seed eliminates most of these pests. Besides, practices other sustainable farming practices such as field rotation, field dressing etc. can help control pests and diseases. It is not advisable to use pesticides! However, when damage is beyond the economic injury level, selective pesticides may be used.
Harvesting and postharvest
Coriander is ready for harvest within 4-6 weeks when the leaves are healthy and green. Late harvesting may cause leaves to turn feathery and yellow. Harvesting should be done early in the morning and soaked in water when temperatures are high to avoid to maintain the freshness of the. Always harvest larger leaves to give room for smaller leaves to grow.
When there is a lot of sunlight, shelters can be erected to protect the plants from direct sunlight. Shelters also control erosion.
With proper management, a farmer can harvest up to 2tonn per acre. In Kenya, farm gate prices of coriander range from KS. 20 to KS. 80 depending on market condition. A smart farmer can plant in an interval to ensure a continuous supply.
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