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Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Growing Green peas in dry lands

By Lilian Wangui
Farming peas in dry lands can be a tall order to farmers who are not mechanized. The experience in Laikipia County however beats the norm that this legume can only be done under strict horticultural measures. Marketing can also stand in the way of such produce given that no prospective buyer can imagine that parched lands such as Laikipia can serve as a good source of his supplies.

Thuku in his pea farm
Bernard Thuku is a perfect epitome of farmers who are making good use of sokopepe service that is being offered by Ng’arua maarifa centre under ALIN. This is an SMS based internet platform that connect farmers to the market. Thuku lives in Wangwaci village in Sipili Division. He owns a 2 ¼ acre farm near Wangwaci dam. He has managed to plant maize in half of the portion while the other half is occupied by green peas. At the far end is a forest of eucalyptus trees.

When Maarifa centre officers visited his farm, Thuku was more than pleased to have them assess whether his produce was ready for sale. Actually, the core reason of visiting his farm was to see the state of the peas and to inform him of a potential buyer who was willing to buy his fresh peas at 50/= per kilo. The pea farmer had fallowed his farm for three years, a process of ploughing the farm and leaving it bare without planting.

The kind of peas he has planted are known as ‘gillano’. It’s different from the typical peas that is the ‘kagwaci’ and kigondoro’ grown by other farmers within Sipili. By the look of it, ‘Gillano’ flourished better than others and therefore Thuku is willing to plant them again but this time under drip irrigation since he is near Wangwaci dam. “I have already bought a pump, plans of buying a tank are still underway and I am planning to divide my farm into portions so as to plant tomatoes, peas and other kind of crops which I am yet to think of,” said Mr. Thuku.

He has used a lot of fertilizers ranging from boosters, start-up, to flowering but he is very optimistic that he will get a bumper harvest this season. He projects to reap five bags at the lower end and he would really appreciate if the potential buyer eyeing his peas would buy them in their dried state because he believes it will fetch some good cash that will leave him smiling through out.

Since he is planning to invest in drip irrigation, the Maarifa Centre library will be resourceful for him. Its book shelves are full of drip irrigation extension material.This will be of great help to him and to many others planning to do drip irrigation.
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