Nakuru County has about 5 hectares underproduction of strawberries valued at Ksh 1.3 million.
To boost its production, the County in partnership with Tomita Technologies is piloting an automated strawberry hydroponics greenhouse with a new Japanese variety which is fast maturing, bigger in size and has more weight than the local variety, which is smaller and weighs less.
Agriculture CECM, Dr. Immaculate Maina, in an interview, said that with active crop diversification in the county, strawberries are a crop that would benefit farmers by bridging the production gap through increasing production for the local and international markets.
She added that, through the hydroponics systems, farmers could have increased production and added value for the production of other crops by using non-soil medium free from diseases.
The hydroponics system that uses the cockpit as a soil medium, which is good in aeration, is also an automated irrigation and fertigation system that costs about Ksh 1.6 million for a 100 square meter raising about 500 strawberry seedlings.
Tomita Hiroaki, President of Tomita technologies, said that the tech introduced was easy to control, expandable, less laborious and less of diseases compared to soil farming.
He was speaking at the strawberry farmers day that attracted about 200 farmers and was held at the Agricultural Training Center (ATC).
He added that, with the new variety of Japan strawberry, farmers would have sweeter, larger, softer fruits expected to give a yield 4 times than that of Japan and utilizes the biological pest control systems.
Dr. Maina added that the tech was suitable to farmers with small pieces of land and the new variety increases the diversity of the strawberry crop. In addition to that, she said the County is working with KEPHIS to ensure they meet the phytosanitary standards.