Tender Stem Broccoli: Rare Vegetable Earning Kenyan Farmers Millions in 3 Months
Tender stem broccoli is a green vegetable closely related to kale, cauliflower and cabbages and can be used to prepare broccoli soup, salad, or cooked to be consumed with other dishes.
Despite being rare among Kenyans, tender stem broccoli has health benefits, including lowering cholesterol levels, reducing blood sugar control, promoting heart health, protecting against cancer and also helping consumers with digestion.
Other health benefits include promoting healthy brain functions, helping slow the aging process, and supporting a healthy immune system.
cooked tender stem broccoli on a pan, ready to serve.
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On Thursday, February 16, Kenya’s High Commissioner to the UK, Manoah Esipisu, indicated that tender-stem broccoli was among the most sought after vegetables in Europe.
“These vegetables have become a must-have at many dining tables in the UK during the traditional Sunday roast of Scottish beef or Welsh lamb,” he stated.
According to various local markets, 200 grams of tender stem broccoli costs north of Ksh100.
It takes two to three months to grow to maturity. With a ready market in the UK and other European countries, large-scale broccoli farmers end up fetching millions.
In a previous interview, a farmer told FarmBiz Africa that he harvests over 1,000 metric tonnes of broccoli from his a quarter acre farm.
From a quarter an acre, the farmer collect close to Ksh270,000 in the European market. However, for an acre, tender stem broccoli fetches close to Ksh1.2 million in export market.
Planting Tender Stem Broccoli
With its nutritional value, farmers in Central Kenya, Western, Rift Valley and others use advanced farming technology to grow tender stem broccoli.
In Kenya, farmers grow Heritage Broccoli which takes three months and Rock Broccoli which takes two and a half months to mature.
The rare vegetable thrives in areas with cool weather receiving at least six hours of sunlight. It also requires well-drained, fertile soil to grow.
According to Smart Farm Kenya, a farming guidebook, tender stem broccoli requires a soil PH of six and temperature between 14 to 200 degrees Celsius.
Agricultural extension officers advise broccoli farmers to mix manure and nitrogen organic fertilisers.
The first phase of growing the vegetable includes placing the seeds in a nursery. The seedbed is watered before transplanting in 14 days.
Smart Farm Kenya recommends spacing 45 to 90cm between rows and 30 to 60cm within rows. During the growing period, tender stem broccoli requires an adequate water supply. In areas with limited water supply, mulching is recommended.
Besides adequate water supply, proper manure application and weeding ensure the crop grows to maturity. Proper and timely application of pesticides is also required before maturity.
Crop rotation is also a recommended practice for growing tender-stem broccoli.
According to farmers’ trends in Kenya, broccoli is ready for harvesting when the heads are well-formed.
At that stage, farmers are advised to cut broccoli stems at an angle to prevent rotting.
Before harvesting, farmers are also advised to find a ready market in advance. The product has a huge demand in supermarkets, hotels and export markets in the US and European countries.
Harvesting process of tender stem broccoli.