Kiwi fruit cultivation on sloping land in the mid-hill areas of Nepal can help prevent soil erosion and is a sustainable land management practice. This high value crop introduces biodiversity and improves livelihoods by providing a source of cash income.
The kiwi fruit is native to China. Previously called Chinese gooseberry, it is now more commonly known by its marketing name of kiwi fruit. Kiwi fruits grow on large vines that are similar to grapevines in their general growth and fruiting habits as well as their training and trellising requirements. The fruit normally ripens within 25 weeks after the flowers first appear. The fruits range in weight from 40 to 90 g and can be picked shortly after the first frost in autumn; after that, they can be kept in cold storage for 4–6 months. Kiwi vines can be grown on a wide range of soil types at elevations ranging from 1000 m to 2500 m. The kiwi plant is dioecious, meaning individual plants are either male or female. Only female plants bear fruit, but only when pollinated by a male plant. Vines of both sexes are essential for fruit production, and they must flower at the same time to ensure pollination. One male pollinator vine is required for eight female vines. The vines are commonly supported on sturdy structures strong enough to bear the heavy fruit, which might otherwise break the rather weak vines. T-bars or hitching post trellises are recommended to support the large fruiting area in the form of a canopy and provide easy access to the fruit.
Seedlings can be planted in the spring as soon as there is little chance of frost. Vines need to be pruned both in summer and in winter to maintain a balance between kiwi plant growth and profitable fruit production. Excessive plant growth is removed during the growing season to keep the kiwi canopy open and to remove non-fruiting wood. Harvesting can begin from the end of November. Frequent weeding is required to reduce competition for moisture and fertilizer. Kiwi fruit requires abundant water; during the dry season the newly planted kiwi vines need deep watering once a week.
Kiwi fruit (Actinidia deliciosa), or Chinese gooseberries as they used to be called, are deciduous trailing climbers. The vine can grow up to 9 m (28 ft) long. The kiwi fruit itself is a brown, large egg-sized oval fruit covered with fuzz. When sliced, the fruit yields an attractive emerald green flesh with rows of small dark edible seeds and a light cream coloured centre. The flavour is reminiscent of a blend of strawberry and pineapple. The kiwi fruit is high in vitamins; it can also be used as a meat tenderizer. The fruit is picked while still hard and ripens off the vine. The economic yield can be as high as 40-60 kg per mature vine (five to eight years old), or 20-25 tonnes per hectare. This is a valuable niche crop for mountain areas, especially those close to urban and tourist markets.
Kiwi fruit is gaining in popularity in Nepal; at present it is cultivated commercially by farmers in Kabhrepalanchok, Lalitpur, Dolakha, and Ilam Districts as well as in the Kathmandu Valley. The technology is widely accepted. Kiwi saplings were initially supplied by ICIMOD and by a private nursery in Kabhre District. Now it is widely available at Charikot and Boach in Dolakha district too.
Orchards are easy to establish and farmers can readily learn what is needed for kiwi cultivation - Awareness and training programmes can help farmers quickly learn what is needed for kiwi cultivation.
The benefits of the technology are easy to observe; farmers generate cash income from selling kiwi fruit, juice, and jam. - Awareness and training programmes can help farmers quickly learn what is needed for kiwi cultivation and postharvest processing.
Soil erosion is decreased due to increased groundcover. - Awareness and training programmes can help farmers quickly learn what is needed for kiwi cultivation.
• Kiwi cultivation provides on-farm employment opportunities. - Awareness and training programmes can help farmers quickly learn what is needed for kiwi cultivation.
• Increased market demand for kiwi fruit
• A good alternative for sloping land management
• Kiwi cultivation is a source of income generation
• The approximate annual income from kiwi production is USD 11,765/ha/year. The technology provides on-farm employment opportunities for both men and women.
• Reduced downstream flooding
• Improved buffering/infiltration capacity
• Strengthened community institution; increased income
• Improved knowledge of land management with kiwi fruit cultivation
• Improved ground cover
• More efficient use of land
• Reduced soil erosion
• Mixed farming (enhanced biodiversity)
• Pollen for bees
• Reduced soil erosion
• Increase biomass production
• Kiwi production can be a good source of cash income as it is a high value crop. Kiwi fruit is high in nutrients, eating kiwis has been shown to boost the immune system, to help regulate blood pressure, and to be beneficial for cardiac patients.