Animated Social Gadget - Blogger And Wordpress Tips

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Ol-Moran Ward farmers embracing cultivation of chickpeas

By Bob Aston
Chickpeas (Cicer arietinum) adoption among smallholder farmers has increased food security and nutritional status of many smallholder farmers in arid areas who frequently face crop failures due to the effect of climate change.
Chickpea does well during extreme dry spells and it requires little water for germination. Once it has sprouted, it does not need any rain until it is ready for harvesting at three months although use of organic fertilizer like BioDeposit can make it take a shorter duration. The legume has a taproot system that can go up to a metre deep, enabling it to effectively use the water that is stored in the soil.
Mr. Simon Ruga from Leleswa area of Ol-Moran Ward, Laikipia West Sub County started farming the crop in 2007. He started multiplying the crop and soon he was supplying most farmers in the area.
“I used to get good returns but I suffered a huge set back during the 2009 drought when I ended up selling all the chickpeas that I had including the seeds that I had kept for planting,” said Mr. Ruga.
Chickpea was introduced in Kenya from India by International Crop Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) as an alternative plant for dry lands.
The chickpea is a tender annual legume, a bushy plant that grows to about 18 inches tall and has pairs of dark green, compound leaflets that look like vetch. Chick peas have swollen, oblong pods to about 1 inch long and nearly as wide that contain one or two large, cream-colored, pea-like seeds each.
Mr. Ruga was unable to get seeds thereafter until 2014 when he met Mr. Samuel Nyaga who had just migrated from Nyeri. Mr. Nyaga informed him that he had learnt about the crop from the internet when he was searching for information about drought resistant crops. He informed him that he heard of a professor from Egerton University who was interested in helping farmers in the area grow chickpeas.
Mr. Nyaga organized to meet with Dr. Isaiah Njoroge Gatongi, Lecturer Department of Crops, Horticulture and Soils, Egerton University who helped him to receive 4 kgs of Kabuli and 2 kgs of Desi.
The seeds were then distributed to four farmers. Despite the dry weather condition in the area Mr. Nyaga and Mr. Ruga were able to harvest the chickpeas but neither was willing to sell as they were interested in multiplying the seeds.
“I want to multiply the seeds this year so that next season I will be able to increase the acreage under chickpeas. The yields of chick peas are slightly higher than that of the common beans while the duration for maturity is also shorter hence why I refer to them as fast china,” said Mr. Ruga.
Chickpeas, while providing an excellent source of both protein and income for the resource poor farmer, are also an important component of the crop rotation systems in most parts of the Country. Chickpeas act as a natural fertilizer by fixing nitrogen in the soil
Facts about Chickpeas
Kabuli and Desi variety of chickpeas are ideal for planting in Laikipia County. Kabuli has white flowers and produces cream-white seeds while Desi has pink flowers and its seeds are dark brown. The seeds are available at Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization or Egerton University.
The chickpea leaves can be cooked as vegetables and much of the foliage is also a good source of animal feed, it has less acid making it ideal for people with stomach problems. It also releases malic acid which works against most viruses and thus farmers can use it to break the cycle of Maize Lethal Necrosis Disease (MLND).
The crop can be eaten raw while still green or they can also be roasted. Their leaves can also be cooked as vegetables while the foliage is a good source of animal feed. Chickpeas can also be added to githeri or eaten with ugali as stew.
Mr. Nyaga noted that chickpeas not only increases soil fertility but also conserves the soil. He has advised other farmers to embrace the crop as it will ensure that they not only realize better nutrition but that they are also able to generate income.
Post a Comment