In this project, we were harvesting the fruits on our farm. The farm is predominantly occupied with oranges (blood and Valencia types), but we do have other fruit such as avocados, bananas, planted coconuts, mandarin oranges, mangoes, lime, palm, pineapples, and sugar cane. These oranges were heading to the local market specifically Kumasi and bordering countries like Burkina Faso and Mali which are not well adapted for orange farming.
The actual work
The work involved plucking, collecting, sorting, and loading the oranges into a truck for transportation to the market. Basically, the workers used modified long bamboo poles to pluck off the oranges from the tall tree plants. Upon hitting the ground the oranges were collected and carried to a larger using a motorized cart “aboboya” or by a pan on their head.
State of the oranges
We must state that we tasted the fruits and they were sweet. But as you can see, some oranges had dark brown discoloration associated with citrus rust mites. This is because we don’t spray the farm with chemical insecticides.
Instead, we are closely working with the ministry of agriculture for an effective organic solution to improve the quality of the fruit. For instance, we are exploring several ways of rejuvenating the soil such as adding organic compost, animal manure, cover crops, pruning, and removing harmful contaminants (soil remediation). Furthermore, we resolved to pick up fallen and rotting oranges which attracted more flies, mites, bugs, and other insects into the farm. Also, our orange trees were planted 20 years ago and their fruit production was not optimal and so, they needed to be replaced with new ones.
Adding value for better profits
We realized that the production of honey would be more profitable. As a result, we plan to start beekeeping on the farm. This will not only bring additional pollinators but also improve the entire ecosystem on the site. Besides, honey is one of the precious agricultural products with ultimate demand at the domestic and commercial levels due to its high nutritious benefits. We foresee a positive honey production since we have over twenty acres of oranges. Indeed, beekeeping can be a good side venture from the component of orange farming. Also, we had to explore options such as value addition so that we could export products with a long shelf life and even increase the profit margins. Additionally, we endeavored in planting more bananas, avocados, palm trees just to mention a few.
Plucking the oranges from the tall orange plants and carrying them using pans was a tough task. We also realized that the capital and labor needed to improve the quality of the fruits wasn’t worth the time. In addition, our oranges could not fetch as much in the local market, and the quantity produced could not guarantee to invest in a fruit processing plant. That’s why we explored the option to maximize the return from the land.
The bottom line
We are working toward improving the soil quality on our site. This will involve biologically diversifying the farm to combat insects and the diseases they cause. Further, we intend to plant for season and zones and more fruits and vegetables.