High starch-yielding Katuni cassava earns more for arid farmers

Arid and semi arid region farmers can grow a well performing new cassava variety required for starch extraction by Machakos county factory.

Katune 990005, which has been developed by Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Organisation, performs well in dry regions and produces more a good quality and quantity of starch which Kiara Agro Limited factory is looking for.

The cassava factory Director Pinal Patel says the variety is more marketable to starch-sourcing companies to meet the demand for the product.

“Katune 990005 variety is more marketable. Because it produces white starch after processing, more consumers prefer this colour, which they associate with purity,” he said.

Productivity

Kenya imports about 25 tones of various forms of starch to meet the demand in the shelf, baking, breweries, binding glue, among other sectors.

Increasing the production locally would save the country millions of shillings while given local farmers an alternative source of revenue.

KALRO has not officially given the quantity yield per acre for Katuni variety. Going per similar breeds released recently, productivity is between 23 tonnes per acre to 28 tonnes per acre production.

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The company buys starch at an average of Sh5 per kilo. Six kilogrammes of unprocessed starch release one kilogramme of starch.

A farmer produces 25 tonnes of Katuni from one acre, they would earn up to Sh25,000.

“My experience and research have shown that cassava have more starch if harvested during dry seasons. Planting should coincide with rains, while harvesting should be done when it is dry. A lot of water in the soil leads to loss of starch o even up to 40 per cent,” the director said.

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Thika 5 breed has more starch than katune, but the earlier cassava is brown, therefore, less searched for by white-loving consumers.

Challenge

To ease collection of raw cassavas from the few farmers already producing the crop, Patel has allowed them to group themselves. Collection is done from one point after and payment made. the buying from the groups also cuts middlemen channels, who he says reduce earnings for the farmers.

He says the big challenge he is facing is the random production of the crop, since farms just want cassava without paying much attention to planting variety.

For more details, please contact Oluoch on +254720251441.