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    High Yield

    An Embu County farmer, who ran out of patience of waiting for more than five years for a dismal harvest from macadamia, has cracked the nut to double yield after crafting a grafted variety.

    Joseph Thiga says adventure in search of high and fast maturing macadamia varieties got him out of the rest to post at least 100 kilos per tree every season. he says this is double the harvest he got from ordinary macadamias.

    “I have not grown macadamias in large scale, but I earn between Sh150,000 and Sh200,000 from the 20 plants I have every season,” he says.

    Although his aim was improving his produce, Thiga now sells grafted seedlings too.

    “I use the indigenous macadamia stalk which has very good root network. I add the scion from Muranga 20 or Embu 1. Because of the good root network of the resultant crop, the trees are stable. The scion is hastened to flower fast and produce more starting from the second year onwards,” he says.

    By the fifth year, the tree produces more macadamia for commercial purposes.

    The grafted variety produces uniform seeds, which are highly marketable, he says.

    In 100 kilogrammes, less than 10 kilogrammes will be found to have inconsistent sizes or quality. There is no much grading like in ordinary nuts, and this contributes to his higher earnings.

    Macadamias trees are sensitive to chemicals. Spraying for aphids only happens during the flowering stage.

    He applies farm manure to improve soil productivity.

    Thiga hopes to earn more after the completion of a Sh200 million Privamnuts Kenya Limited macadamia factory in the county.

    The 1,000-metric tonnes per season processing Muthatari factory will save more farmers, who have been selling their produce to middle men prematurely.

    The county processes about 5,000 metric tonnes between March and July, the main harvesting season.

    Germany, Netherlands, USA, Japan are among the global markets for this nut.

    He sells seedlings at Sh300 each and he can be reached on 0727505512.

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    Residents of dry region in the country can mint thousands of shillings in a few days by rearing silk worms on the naturally growing acacia trees.

    Silk worms are some of the smallest ‘livestock’ that have been reared for centuries globally, but Kenya is yet to realise the high potential in this textile industry raw material.

    The small animals feed on mulberry, acacia, lettuce, among other trees.

    Mulberry is the commonest feed, but given that arid and semi arid regions have acacia trees, it will not be a challenge to farmers.

    According the Nairobi-based International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE), one-three mitre acacia tree can comfortably support at least 200 silk worms.

    The organisation buys the yarn from farmers, therefore, no struggling in looking for the market.

    A mature worm takes three to four days to form cocoon of silk around itself.

    From this one tree, a farmer would harvest at least 0.375 kilogrammes of silk in three to four days.

    On average, 0.375 kg of silk would yield about 2.5 mitres of material. The cost of one mitre of the material ranges between Sh900 and Sh950.

    This means a farmer can harvest between Sh2,375 and Sh2,500 from one acacia tree.

    With leaves of just 10 acacia trees, a farmer can harvest at least Sh95,000 after one month from just 1,000 silk worms.

    Women groups spins income from silkworms

    Unfortunately, the livestock do not live for more than two months.

    Silk worm eggs take between six and 20 days to hatch, depending on the provided conditions.

    They mature after 26 days when they start spinning soft creamy white cocoon from the salivary glands.

    The slippery white fluid hardens on contact with air.

    The worm will turn into moth, and a female will mate and lay about 500 eggs.  Males die almost immediately after mating while females do so after about five days.

    If the eggs are too many to hatch at once, a farmer can refrigerate them. Hatching takes place within a week if the eggs are kept in temperatures of between 78 degrees and 85 degrees. In cool temperatures, they can hatch in two weeks.

    Scientists target silk worms in controlling malaria

    ICIPE has an established training centre for famers at its Nairobi headquarters targeting women from drier regions.

    The feacal materila from the creatures is rich organic manure.

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