Six months maturing drought resistant arrowroots enter Kenya

DrylandarrowrootsMaryNjeriNyeriLaban.JPG

Arrowroot farmers can cut growing period by two months by planinting a high yielding and quick maturing variety from Rwanda, which is also drought tolerant.

The traditional Kenyan varieties mature in eight month after transplanting. But the dry land arrow roots from Rwanda mature in six months.

Nyeri County farmer Mary Njeri said the arrowroots are tolerant to low rainfall and the quality of their flesh is high due to the low amount of water and a high concentration of starch.

 “The Rwandan arrow roots require rain during transplanting. I have repeatedly planted them at Kieni Sub-county and still harvested tubers weighing more than four kilos in six months,” she said.

Kieni Sub-county is classified as a semi area because it receives less than 500mm of rain per year.

Arrow roosts normally do well in waterlogged areas. Farmers who have grown the tubers away from swampy areas or riverbeds use polythene mulching to contain high moisture levels in the soil for the tubers to do well.

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But Njeri said the Rwandan type requires a deep hole, which must be filed with farm yard manure. The relatively deep and superficial roots collect the little water available for use.

“I transplant the mature suckers when they are about one and half feet. After filling the two-feet hole with organic manure, I add mulch. The hole is not filled completely to allow for ample space for mulching,” she said.

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At her home in Tetu, still in Nyeri County, the farmer said she has at times harvested dry land arrow roots of more than eight kilogrammes because rainfall is higher than at Kieni.

Njeri sells both tubers according to the size, while the planting materials go cost Sh50.

PHOTO: Mary Njeri shows farmers the Rwanda dry land arrowroots at the Kabiru-ini Agricultural Society of Kenya Show Ground, Nyeri, on September 17, 2016. The variety matures in six months and is tolerant to drought. PHOTO BY LABAN ROBERT.

She can be reached on +254710178659