Adopting fodder crop farming improves farmer’s income

 rhodes.JPG

Boma Rhodes.

Peter Mutisya, a fodder crop farmer in Kivaa village, Machakos County earns over Sh85, 000 per season from sales of Rhodes and Brachiaria grass compared to maize and beans that used to give him Sh10, 000 per season five years ago.

The irregular and insufficient rainfall affected his yields, harvesting only five bags of maize and 10kg of beans at most per season. “I was always relying on relief food from the government and well-wishers because after selling maize and beans and settled school fees I was left with nothing,” he said.

RELATED STORY: Mwingi farmers preserve future with fodder technology

In the Southeastern region of Kenya where Mutisya comes from the drought has affected harvests and livestock. According to Kenya Meteorological Department August 2017 report the area received depressed rainfall of less than 40 per cent of the March-April-May seasonal rainfall.

This has prompted Mutisya and other farmers in the region to look for alternative sources of income in growing fodder crops.

In 2015 Mutisya visited Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation’s (Kalro) Arid and Range Lands Research Institute at Katumanu branch in Machakos County and bought seeds of Boma Rhodes hay and Brachiaria grass at Sh800 and Sh1, 000 per kilo respectively to plant on his six acres farm.

RELATED STORY:Arid tagasaste shrub offers livestock fodder for 30 years

He followed the agronomic instructions given by the Kalro officers and within a short time he was harvesting his first crops for market. “I was surprised that after three to four months both Rhodes and Brachiaria were mature for harvest,” said the father of three.

Mutisya’s customers are animal keepers who visit his farm to buy feeds for their animals. He sells Boma Rhodes at Sh300 per bale and Sh20 per kilo of Brachiaria grass. He harvests both in three phases a season getting 150 bales and about 20,000Kg of Boma Rhodes and Brachiaria grass respectively. This gives him a sum of Sh85, 000 in a given season.

Mutisya no longer relys on their village chief’s charity food to feed his family. “With the money I get from selling the grass, I am able to settle my bills and buy enough food to sustain my family.”

A growing number of Kenyans living in arid areas are swapping staple crops for livestock fodder like Rhodes or Brachiaria grass, which require less water to grow, according to the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization.

RELATED STORY: Fodder offers alternatives to rising cost of commercial feeds

 “Rain-fed staple farming is becoming increasingly difficult in Kenya due to poor rainfall, whereas growing fodder can help farmers withstand prolonged drought." Said Joseph Mureithi, Kalro director.

Brachiaria .jpeg

 A goat feeding on Brachiaria grass.

Vetiver grass’s multi-purpose usage draws many farmers

             Field of Vetiver grass. Photo: Shutterstock A hundred farmers in Voi are growing Vetiver, a perennial bunch grass that is useful in soil and water preservation...

Eating crickets can end malnutrition in children

Eating crickets can end malnutrition in children and ensure food security by boosting the nutritional value of food, a 2017 research conducted by the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and...

Potato farming transforming lives of thousands of Kenyan sma…

By Dr. Steve New, USAID Kenya Agricultural Value Chain Enterprises, KAVES, Chief of Party Dr. Steve New, USAID Kenya Agricultural Value Chain Enterprises, KAVES, Chief of Party Under the USAID funded Feed the...

Why Nantes carrot variety is the farmers’ choice

               Nantes carrots. Carrots are increasingly becoming more valued crop among smallholder farmers in Kenya due to its marketability, short maturity period and low attention requirement...

Nyamira farmer doubles vegetable yields with double dug irri…

Charles Oloo, a vegetable farmer in Nyamira County earns Sh7500 a week up from Sh3000 from harvesting five bags of cabbage, a factor he attributes to the double dug drip...

Shanty F1 tomato variety earning Laikipia farmer cool cash

            Since its introduction to the Kenyan market in April last year, Amiran Kenya’s Shanty Improved F1 has turned one Laikipia County farmer into a young...