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Feedback: Melon farming do’s and don’ts




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Can I grow watermelons in Nanyuki?

Watermelon is a warm season crop which cannot do well in cold places. However, in a greenhouse it can possibly grow. Below is an environmental guide for watermelon.

It grows at altitudes of up to 1,500m above sea level. It does well in lowland areas such as coastal regions, lowland of eastern and parts of the lake basin.

They grow best under hot temperatures of between 22 and 28oC. Stagnation of growth occurs at temperatures less than 15oC. Suited in low to medium rainfall areas with additional irrigation and optimum rainfall is 600mm and 400mm is considered minimum.

Excessive humidity favours leaf diseases and also affects flowering. They grow best on well-drained and slightly acidic sandy loam soils and slow development is exhibited in heavy clay soil, and fruit size and quality are usually inferior.

Watermelon is fairly tolerant to soil pH as low as 5.5, however, a slightly acidic soil with pH of 6.0 to 6.5 is ideal.

Watermelon is propagated by seeds, directly planted in the field or raised in the nursery before transplanting. The seed rate is about 3kg/ha and seeds germinate best when the soil is very warm (25- 32°C) and the air is almost hot (28 to 33°C), as it is the case at the end of the dry season.

Do a soil test to know which fertiliser to use when planting or during top dress.

If direct seeding, seeds should be sowed after the last frosts and when the soil has warmed to at least 18.4°C. Allow 90—120cm (3—4 ft) between seeds in a row and 150—180cm (~5—6ft) between rows.

Plant two seeds per hill, placing them 3 to 4cm (1.5 inches) deep into the soil. Water the hills thoroughly if there is no rain and in nursery propagation transplant, when the seedlings develop first set of true leaves.

Hardening should commence in 7-10 days before planting. Seeds should germinate in 3—10 days depending on the soil temperature.

After planting, water regularly with manure or fertiliser to provide additional nutrients. Watermelons need sufficient moisture; after planting to allow fast and even emergence and at early bloom to prevent poor fruit set and misshapen fruit and during fruit development to ensure good melon size.

Do not apply too much water, avoid waterlogging, and minimise wetting of the bed tops. Heavy irrigation or rainfall may also result in fruit splitting.

Peter Caleb Otieno,
Department of Crops Horticulture, and Soils, Egerton University.

I am Dennis Mutembei, a Bachelor of Food Technology and Quality Assurance student at Technical University of Mombasa.

I am interested in making a preserve from tamarillo as a research project. What are the other ingredients required and outline the procedure and equipment needed for the processing.

Also, advise on the food safety certification requirements and opportunities to sustain the project as a food security measure.

The recipe is quite long for this space. It would make more sense if it was a stand-alone article. Please get in touch with me on email at [email protected] and I will mail it to you.

As far as food safety is concerned, you must get Kenya Bureau of Standards certification and public health department approval if you are making food for public consumption.

Kevine Otieno,
Department of Dairy, Food Science and Technology.


I am Barasa Alloys from Busia and I am interested in knowing more about cricket farming. Link me to Charles Odira, a cricket farmer from Nyamasaria, Kisumu County.

Get in touch with Charles Odira via mobile phone on 0721280907.

Kevine Otieno, Department of Dairy, Food Science & Technology.


I would like to get in touch with the people who are selling cactus wine and juice.
Winnie Dah

Get in touch with the Laikipia Permaculture Centre through on P.O. Box 566-10400, Nanyuki, Kenya. Telephone: 0727845123/0702095644/0726787085/0736053985.
E-Mail: [email protected]

Kevine Otieno, Department of Dairy, Food Science & Technology.


I am interested in going into agribusiness. Our targets are passion fruits, pawpaws and mushrooms. I have done a little research on each of them, however, I don’t have the know-how on how, where and what to start with.

Do you have a professional I could get in touch with to take me through the process?

All the enterprises that you have mentioned are noble and can fetch good returns once a proper plan is put in place.

You need a proper agribusiness plan with a model that will help you identify the market, map all the costs associated with this venture and project revenues that will come as a result of this initiative.

The market is there but this has to be properly scrutinised to avoid pushing products into the market instead of consuming coming for them.

Kindly send an email to [email protected] for professional guidance on how to write a business plan, including how well we can help you transform your ideas into a viable enterprise.

Dickson Otieno, Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Agriculture and Agribusiness Management (CESAAM), Egerton University.


We are a registered company with a big vision in agribusiness service provision, crop and livestock production, value addition and marketing.

We have access to about 2,000 acres which we expect to have a title under land adjudication process and registration that is ongoing.

We had hydrological survey done which positively found a five sweet water underground rivers at 200-metre depth, which requires about Sh2 million to tap the water.

We envisaged a great demand for farm produce, so we opened a supply shop for that purpose. It’s now operational.

We got another land under lease arrangement about 50,000 acres which borders a permanent river. On that land we saw a real potential only if we can get proper funding.

We are requesting for information on proper 500-acre land use plan for most high value short-term and perennials crops that can do best in Kilifi County under irrigation.

Also, advise on livestock production. Identify specific high value crops and livestock that have highest yields under irrigation.

For proper 500-acre land use, a concrete professional agribusiness plan is required. This is due to the fact that the kind of investment here is huge and some mistakes can be very costly.

All the aspects mentioned such as market research strategy, exports and contract farming can be part of this plan. The farm also requires a comprehensive strategic plan that will be developed with insight from your team and relevant stakeholders.

With this kind of investment, a baseline survey will be necessary to help you establish approaches to give various issues that can be addressed by the study.

As agribusiness specialists, we are in a position to help or guide you through this process. Kindly send me an email on [email protected] for further engagement.

Dickson Otieno
Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Agriculture and Agribusiness Management (CESAAM)

Kindly share the contact of someone who sells vulturine guinea fowls and East African Cranes.
Salim Henry

EDITOR: Talk to Gladys Nduati of Goshen Bird Farm on 0721951944 or 0718303374.

I am an upcoming farmer and an ardent reader of Seeds of Gold. I liked the story on Gilbert Mutegi, who exports bullet chilli. Kindly share his contact so that I can talk to him.
Michael Kimani

EDITOR: Mutegi is available on 0706737513. You can also talk to agronomist Paul Rangenga on 0733452775.

I got excited by Lilly Nduku’s flower farm. I have been wondering how I could grow summer flowers for long. I believe she can help me. I need her contact.

EDITOR: Mwanzia is available on 0722514309.



Sordid tale of the bank ‘that would bribe God’




Bank of Credit and Commerce International. August 1991. [File, Standard]

“This bank would bribe God.” These words of a former employee of the disgraced Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) sum up one of the most rotten global financial institutions.
BCCI pitched itself as a top bank for the Third World, but its spectacular collapse would reveal a web of transnational corruption and a playground for dictators, drug lords and terrorists.
It was one of the largest banks cutting across 69 countries and its aftermath would cause despair to innocent depositors, including Kenyans.
BCCI, which had $20 billion (Sh2.1 trillion in today’s exchange rate) assets globally, was revealed to have lost more than its entire capital.
The bank was founded in 1972 by the crafty Pakistani banker Agha Hasan Abedi.
He was loved in his homeland for his charitable acts but would go on to break every rule known to God and man.
In 1991, the Bank of England (BoE) froze its assets, citing large-scale fraud running for several years. This would see the bank cease operations in multiple countries. The Luxembourg-based BCCI was 77 per cent owned by the Gulf Emirate of Abu Dhabi.  
BoE investigations had unearthed laundering of drugs money, terrorism financing and the bank boasted of having high-profile customers such as Panama’s former strongman Manual Noriega as customers.
The Standard, quoting “highly placed” sources reported that Abu Dhabi ruler Sheikh Zayed Sultan would act as guarantor to protect the savings of Kenyan depositors.
The bank had five branches countrywide and panic had gripped depositors on the state of their money.
Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) would then move to appoint a manager to oversee the operations of the BCCI operations in Kenya.
It sent statements assuring depositors that their money was safe.
The Standard reported that the Sheikh would be approaching the Kenyan and other regional subsidiaries of the bank to urge them to maintain operations and assure them of his personal support.
It was said that contact between CBK and Abu Dhabi was “likely.”
This came as the British Ambassador to the UAE Graham Burton implored the gulf state to help compensate Britons, and the Indian government also took similar steps.
The collapse of BCCI was, however, not expect to badly hit the Kenyan banking system. This was during the sleazy 1990s when Kenya’s banking system was badly tested. It was the era of high graft and “political banks,” where the institutions fraudulently lent to firms belonging or connected to politicians, who were sometimes also shareholders.
And even though the impact was expected to be minimal, it was projected that a significant number of depositors would transfer funds from Asian and Arab banks to other local institutions.
“Confidence in Arab banking has taken a serious knock,” the “highly placed” source told The Standard.
BCCI didn’t go down without a fight. It accused the British government of a conspiracy to bring down the Pakistani-run bank.  The Sheikh was said to be furious and would later engage in a protracted legal battle with the British.
“It looks to us like a Western plot to eliminate a successful Muslim-run Third World Bank. We know that it often acted unethically. But that is no excuse for putting it out of business, especially as the Sultan of Abu Dhabi had agreed to a restructuring plan,” said a spokesperson for British Asians.
A CBK statement signed by then-Deputy Governor Wanjohi Murithi said it was keenly monitoring affairs of the mother bank and would go to lengths to protect Kenyan depositors.
“In this respect, the CBK has sought and obtained the assurance of the branch’s management that the interests of depositors are not put at risk by the difficulties facing the parent company and that the bank will meet any withdrawal instructions by depositors in the normal course of business,” said Mr Murithi.
CBK added that it had maintained surveillance of the local branch and was satisfied with its solvency and liquidity.
This was meant to stop Kenyans from making panic withdrawals.
For instance, armed policemen would be deployed at the bank’s Nairobi branch on Koinange Street after the bank had announced it would shut its Kenyan operations.
In Britain, thousands of businesses owned by British Asians were on the verge of financial ruin following the closure of BCCI.
Their firms held almost half of the 120,000 bank accounts registered with BCCI in Britain. 
The African Development Bank was also not spared from this mess, with the bulk of its funds deposited and BCCI and stood to lose every coin.
Criminal culture
In Britain, local authorities from Scotland to the Channel Islands are said to have lost over £100 million (Sh15.2 billion in today’s exchange rate).
The biggest puzzle remained how BCCI was allowed by BoE and other monetary regulation authorities globally to reach such levels of fraudulence.
This was despite the bank being under tight watch owing to the conviction of some of its executives on narcotics laundering charges in the US.
Coast politician, the late Shariff Nassir, would claim that five primary schools in Mombasa lost nearly Sh1 million and appealed to then Education Minister George Saitoti to help recover the savings. Then BoE Governor Robin Leigh-Pemberton condemned it as so deeply immersed in fraud that rescue or recovery – at least in Britain – was out of the question.
“The culture of the bank is criminal,” he said. The bank was revealed to have targeted the Third World and had created several “institutional devices” to promote its operations in developing countries.
These included the Third World Foundation for Social and Economic Studies, a British-registered charity.
“It allowed it to cultivate high-level contacts among international statesmen,” reported The Observer, a British newspaper.
BCCI also arranged an annual Third World lecture and a Third World prize endowment fund of about $10 million (Sh1 billion in today’s exchange rate).
Winners of the annual prize had included Nelson Mandela (1985), sir Bob Geldof (1986) and Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1989).
[email protected]    


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Tracking and monitoring motor vehicles is not new to Kenyans. Competition to install affordable tracking devices is fierce but essential for fleet managers who receive reports online and track vehicles from the comfort of their desk.

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Agricultural Development Corporation Chief Accountant Gerald Karuga on the Spot Over Fraud –




Gerald Karuga, the acting chief accountant at the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC), is on the spot over fraud in land dealings.

ADC was established in 1965 through an Act of Parliament Cap 346 to facilitate the land transfer programme from European settlers to locals after Kenya gained independence.

Karuga is under fire for allegedly aiding a former powerful permanent secretary in the KANU era Benjamin Kipkulei to deprive ADC beneficiaries of their land in Naivasha.

Kahawa Tungu understands that the aggrieved parties continue to protest the injustice and are now asking the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission (EACC) and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to probe Karuga.

A source who spoke to Weekly Citizen publication revealed that Managing Director Mohammed Dulle is also involved in the mess at ADC.

Read: Ministry of Agriculture Apologizes After Sending Out Tweets Portraying the President in bad light

Dulle is accused of sidelining a section of staffers in the parastatal.

The sources at ADC intimated that Karuga has been placed strategically at ADC to safeguard interests of many people who acquired the corporations’ land as “donations” from former President Daniel Arap Moi.

Despite working at ADC for many years Karuga has never been transferred, a trend that has raised eyebrows.

“Karuga has worked here for more than 30 years and unlike other senior officers in other parastatals who are transferred after promotion or moved to different ministries, for him, he has stuck here for all these years and we highly suspect that he is aiding people who were dished out with big chunks of land belonging to the corporation in different parts of the country,” said the source.

In the case of Karuga safeguarding Kipkulei’s interests, workers at the parastatals and the victims who claim to have lost their land in Naivasha revealed that during the Moi regime some senior officials used dubious means to register people as beneficiaries of land without their knowledge and later on colluded with rogue land officials at the Ministry of Lands to acquire title deeds in their names instead of those of the benefactors.

Read Also: Galana Kulalu Irrigation Scheme To Undergo Viability Test Before Being Privatised


“We have information that Karuga has benefitted much from Kipkulei through helping him and this can be proved by the fact that since the matter of the Naivasha land began, he has been seen changing and buying high-end vehicles that many people of his rank in government can’t afford to buy or maintain,” the source added.

“He is even building a big apartment for rent in Ruiru town.”

The wealthy officer is valued at over Sh1.5 billion in prime properties and real estate.

Last month, more than 100 squatters caused scenes in Naivasha after raiding a private firm owned by Kipkulei.

The squatters, who claimed to have lived on the land for more than 40 years, were protesting take over of the land by a private developer who had allegedly bought the land from the former PS.

They pulled down a three-kilometre fence that the private developed had erected.

The squatters claimed that the former PS had not informed them that he had sold the land and that the developer was spraying harmful chemicals on the grass affecting their livestock and homes built on a section of the land.

Read Also: DP Ruto Wants NCPB And Other Agricultural Bodies Merged For Efficiency

Naivasha Deputy County Commissioner Kisilu Mutua later issued a statement warning the squatters against encroaching on Kipkuleir’s land.

“They are illegally invading private land. We shall not allow the rule of the jungle to take root,” warned Mutua.

Meanwhile, a parliamentary committee recently demanded to know identities of 10 faceless people who grabbed 30,350 acres of land belonging to the parastatal, exposing the rot at the corporation.

ADC Chairman Nick Salat, who doubles up as the KANU party Secretary-General, denied knowledge of the individuals and has asked DCI to probe the matter.

Email your news TIPS to [email protected] or WhatsApp +254708677607. You can also find us on Telegram through

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William Ruto eyes Raila Odinga Nyanza backyard




Deputy President William Ruto will next month take his ‘hustler nation’ campaigns to his main rival, ODM leader Raila Odinga’s Nyanza backyard, in an escalation of the 2022 General Election competition.

Acrimonious fall-out

Development agenda

Won’t bear fruit

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