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    High Yield

    One thousand three hundred and seventy six (1376) farmers in Siaya have increased their income 29 times from Sh2.02m to Sh58.95m after adding value to their groundnuts.

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    The farmers produce peanut products for sale including queens’ peanut butter, roasted nut bites and raw peanut flour for sale after receiving a donation of peanut processing equipment by the Kenya Agricultural Productivity Project (KAPAP).

    At the outset, farmers in the region did little to transform their produce after harvesting their crops. They sold it raw and the area under production per farmer was small ranging between a quarter to two acres which was not ideal for agribusiness.

    Farmers in the region produced three, 90kg bags per acre of shelled groundnuts compared to six, 90kg bags per acre, its potential, according to a baseline survey by the Kenya Agricultural Productivity Project (KAPAP). The low production was attributed to use of recycled seeds from harvested grains instead of certified high yielding, disease tolerant seed varieties.


    A farmer displays some of the products made from groundnuts

    From 2010 to 2015, KAPAP through its county service unit for Siaya created awareness and mobilized farmers from 20 locations out of the 54 in the county. The farmers identified groundnuts as a priority which required urgent intervention; this led to formation of common interest groups in the locations who developed business plans for implementation by the farmers.

    The farmers through their groups were trained on improved planting materials.  To increase the volume of seeds, exemplary farmers were identified to engage in bulking seed which they then sold to their peers. Clean planting materials were sourced from the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO).

    As a result of farmers’ involvement and proper planning groundnut productivity has increased from 42.1 tonnes in 2010 to 330 tonnes in 2017. This reflected an improvement in from about a quarter to once acre of cultivation of the crop per farmer and improvement of yields per acre from 150kg to 450kgs.

    Using the peanut processing machine, the farmers process their produce and are currently selling more than 50 pieces of 400g packs to various hotels within Kisumu through Siaya nut cooperative society.

    Some of the challenges faced by the farmers include inadequate seed supply and lack of viable equipment to facilitate post-harvest operations. 

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    Zucchini (2).JPG

    Horticulture farmer in Tabaka, Kisii County is earning Sh50, 000 per week from zucchini farming against his Sh2500 weekly wage from a soapstone site.

    Jared Ong’angi quit his casual job in the soapstone industry in pursuit of farming, growing kales, onions, tomatoes and pumpkins in his three acres of land but majoring on zucchini.

    RELATED ARTICLE: Farmer finds millions in courgettes

    “I was a craftsman for two years earning Sh500 daily but I was able to save some money. Then I met a friend who introduced me to farming,” said Ong’angi.

    “With the savings, I bought STAR 8021 Squash zucchini variety seeds from a distributor of Starke Ayres Kenya Ltd seeds in Kisii Town. I used an additional Sh5000 for land preparation and Sh2500 to buy fertilizer and agrochemicals.”

    According to Starke Ayres Kenya Ltd Sales Agronomist-Samuel Gacheru, 90 per cent of farmers growing zucchini in the country grow their Star Squash 821 variety because it has high yields and tolerant to common diseases which attack the crop.

    “Our variety is preferred among farmers because it matures within 30 to 35 days after planting and it is also tolerant to powdery mildew disease which is deadly to the crop,” said Gacheru.

    They do well in most temperate zones of the country like Western, Rift valley and Central regions which do not experience extremes of weather conditions. Counties such as Kiambu, Murang’a and Kirinyaga are however better placed for zucchini farming because of their closeness to Nairobi City which provides a huge market.

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    Ong’angi takes his zucchinis to Daraja Mbili market in Kisii every market day, Monday and Thursday, where he meets traders from Nairobi, Kisumu, Migori and Eldoret. This he does to evade brokers who buy from him at about Sh70 per kilo and sell for more than Sh100 whereas he sells his produce at Sh100 per kilo.

    He is currently harvesting zucchinis twice a week and gets approximately two bags per harvest giving him over five bags of 100kg in his one and a half farm per week.

    “There is a lot that needs to be done during harvesting as it involves packaging and transporting the produce to the market when they are still fresh,” he said.







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    Nyeri farmer Wilson Ndung’u is earning Sh120, 000 per month from the sale of pepino melon fruits which mature after 75 days. Ndung’u harvests approximately 1200kg of the fruits from his two acre farm and sells them at Sh100 per kilogram.

    What Ndung’u earns in a month is Sh41500 more than the salary of an average accountant in Kenya. According to accountants in Kenya earn approximately Sh78, 500.

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    The fruit is known for its health benefits which include lowering of blood pressure, promoting healthy immune system and maintaining healthy gums hence gaining demand among consumers.

    “I started growing pepino in 2009 when I was still a student at Gichungo secondary school after being introduced to it by a friend”

    “I began with just one plant but I have since expanded to two acres with about 9,000 plants” said Ndung’u.


    Wilson Ndung'u at his pepino farm in Nyeri

    Ndung’u, an accountant by profession ventured into this type of farming after numerous job searches bore no fruit. He then decided to try pepino farming after he was introduced to the fruit by his friend. 

    According to Ndung’u, pepino melon is a sweet and juicy perennial plant with a lifespan of four and half years. The plant is propagated from cuttings, planted at a space of two to three feet and can grow to a height of 1.2 meters when fully matured. One plant can produce 30 fruits.

    “I apply chicken manure at the rate of five bags per acre once in a year to improve the fertility due to the black cotton soil in my farm” said Ndung’u. The plant does well in well drained loamy soils with a soil PH of 6.5 to 7.5.

    To maintain the plants, the farmer removes excess shoots around the base of each plant so as to enough air and light reach to all sides of the plant, important ingredients in the photosynthesis process.

    Ndung’u said pepino melon plants are susceptible to diseases that affect tomatoes such as blight and bacterial wilt amongst others. Farmers intending to venture into growing this type of plant should therefore avoid planting them on farms previously occupied by tomatoes.

    He harvests approximately 300kg of the fruits per week and sells them in markets within Nyeri town, Nairobi and central region. Sometimes retailers and consumers alike visit his farm to purchase the fruits.

    Pepino melon has a light-yellow to light-green skin, streaked with purple variegations. The flesh, when ripe is golden yellow with a narrow seed cavity. It is entirely edible and is an excellent source of fiber which helps in the digestion process.

    Ndung’u has adopted farming as his lifetime job and has used proceeds from the farm to sustain his livelihood. He also sells seedlings to prospective farmers at Sh100 per seedling.

    He now has a young family which he hopes to raise using money from the sales of the fruits. The farmer also plants to venture to kiwi fruit farming in future.

    Ndung’u can be reached on +254 714 080 532.







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