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Monday, 3 September 2018

sun flower farming out reach

By Simon Munyeki
mr. simon munyeki training farmers on digital repository
Ngarua maarifa centre jointly with the ministry of agriculture and other stake holders held a farmers outreach at makutano area of ol-moran  ward on August 29th 2018 with the aim of sensitizing farmers on the importance of sun flower farming and its economic value compared to regular annual crop they have been farming for years without much profits as compared to sun flower which takes three-four months to maturity.

Sunflower is one of the leading crops in oil production worldwide at third place from Soya and palm taking first and second place respectively, its also a good raw material for animal feeds production. This crop requires well drained loam soil, for maximum production, a farmer should observe the following steps of production. The field should be well ploughed and hallowed in order to have the soil hard pans broken to promote uniform germination, this is because sunflower seeds are small in size. Seed rate of four kgs per acre is recommended and spacing of 75cm between rows and 30cm plant to another.
Although farmers are hesitant in embracing new crops that are introduced to them due to lack of market information and the economic value of the crop, sun flower farming in olmoran ward and laikipia in general have gladly taken up this challenge and are enjoying huge profits in sunflower farming as compared to maize and wheat production they were used to for the past years.
farmers during a training session
The county government of laikipia through the ministry of agriculture is promoting sunflower production by linking farmers and buyers through contract farming. Through this initiative, the produce has a ready market and at a competitive price making sure that no single grain that goes to waste in this venture. With introduction of other stake holders like JIELIMISHE who are one of the main sun flower oil producers based in Nyahururu, farmers are getting ready market without having to worry of being exploited by middle men.

Name; Martha  Wanjiku
Contacts; 0729702528
“All the years that I have been farming maize, I haven’t been getting good profits due to low prices of our produce during harvesting season but since I started growing sun flower I have realized high profit margins cultivating the same size of land as maize, this is because I harvest three times in a year and the market is never saturated as opposed to when I was growing maize” said  mrs Martha Wanjiku said.

Name; John Gituku
Contacts; 0727395312
“Sunflower is the best crop that I have ever grown in my farm since I started farming 30 yrs ago because it take short time to mature and it has a good market price as compared to maize or wheat that I have been farming in the previous years, although birds are a big challenge when there are no other people who have planted sunflower in the neighborhood, I still have to enjoy double profit as compared to maize because when I take sunflower seeds for oil extraction I get both the oil and seed cake for my animals,”   said  Mr.  Githuku .
mr moses lokwawi, ministry of agriculture traininig farmers

Name; mwaura Ihugo
Contacts; 0720829488
“I have been farming maize for twenty years now and lately I have not been making good profits as I was earlier when I started farming, this is because  of high prices of farm inputs and also the fall army worms infestation that was not there years back. With the knowledge that I have gained today on sun flower production I will now switch to sunflower farming,” said Mr. Ihugo         

Thursday, 2 August 2018

laikipia Gold

By Simon Munyeki
 Although farmers in laikipia have mainly over relied on maize production and livestock keeping due to its  arid climatic conditions  introduction of other different crops has not been well embraced by the local communities who are not well informed on the benefits of such crops such as the sunflower.
sunflower inter cropped with maize
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) through its community trainers has taken up the challenge of promoting cultivation of sunflower in Olmoran ward and laikipia county in general. Although sunflower does well when planted alone in the field farmers in olmoran have been intercropping it with the maize fearing that sunflower may not be more profitable as maize.

When planting sunflower, a farmer must consider type of the soil on which he/she intends to plant, the soil should be well fertile, well drained to avoid water logging which is not good for sunflower production. Land should be well prepared and hard soil pans broken before planting the sunflower seeds to promote even germination of seeds, two kilograms of sunflower seeds are recommended per acre in order to achieve a plant population of 800-1000 plants per acre use of organic manure during planting is recommended.
locally pressed sunflower oil
Sunflower fields should always be kept clean by regular weeding in order to have healthy crops and reduce nutrients and water competition between the weeds and sunflower and also keeps the soil well aerated. Under favorable conditions sunflower take three to four months to maturity. Dry Sunflower leaves promote soil organic matter hence making the soil more fertile.
Mature sunflower heads are manually harvested by cutting them by hand using a knife and sun dried, when dry , seeds are  separated from the husks  manually although mechanical seed separation can be done when production is large scale and commercial unlike the case of olmoran ward. The seeds are then taken to the pressing centre where oil is extracted for local markets, while the residues from pressed seeds are used as animal feed.  

Monday, 23 July 2018

Sisal in arid regions

By Simon Munyeki

Inhibitors of Arid and semiarid regions for centuries have been struggling with hostile climatic conditions without knowing which is the right crop to cultivate in their farms due to unpredictable weather patterns which have forced many of them to turn to pastoralism and nomadic lifestyle moving from one place to another in search of pastures and water for their livestock.
sisal planted to mark a boundary

Although sisal has been cultivated in different parts of the world, many of the residents of kenya`s remote regions have not realized the potential and huge benefits they can yield in sisal production in their farms in which they only plant sisal on the boundaries to demarcate their land which also attracts wild animals such as elephants in places such as laikipia where elephants population is high due to many conservancies within the county.

Sisal farming in kenya is mainly done in TAITA TAVETA county where its produced in large scale by different companies such as Rea Vipingo.  sisal is mainly cultivated for its fibre which is delived from its fleshy leaves which varies in size depending on which variety that was preferred by the farmer, the fibre is used to make different products such as  marts, baskets, ropes and dart boards which are sold both locally and internationally.Sisal fibre is also used in textile industry to strengthen the wool in textile production in order to produce high quality and tough textile which is used to produce canvas.

Image result for sisal products
Basket made of sisal fibre
The lower-grade fibre is processed by the paper industry because of its high content of cellulose and hemicelluloses. The medium-grade fibre is used in the cordage industry for making ropes, baler and binder twine. Ropes and twines are widely employed for marine, agricultural, and general industrial use. The higher-grade fibre after treatment is converted into yarns and used by the carpet industry.
Although sisal has not been planted In  large scale  laikipia, farmers have been selling their sisal to middle men who have been buying the little sisal that is found within the county motivating residence of laikipia to make use of the land that has been lying idle for many years.