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    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.

    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.

    Vegetable farmers can now harvest up to 300 pods weighing 48kgs per year from a single spinach tree, thanks to the Swiss Chard ford hook spinach, a new variety in the Kenyan market by Amiran which can grow up to 2.5 feet
    High yielding
    This super variety yields 70 more pods than other varieties in the market which produces 218 pods per year on average. A part from high yield, the Swiss chard variety matures in up to 50 day after sowing, hence quick returns on investment. It can be refrigerated for up to 10 days, three days longer than other varieties hence commercially more viable.
    READ ALSO: 10ft sukuma wiki variety
    Growing conditions

    Unlike most spinach varieties that require well drained loamy soils rich in organic matters, the Swiss chard ford hook spinach variety can also do well in sandy loam soil with soil PH value of 6-6.8. This means, the variety can be grow in various parts of the country especially western, Rift valley, Central and parts of upper Eastern region.
    READ ALSO: High demand for Chinese cabbage in Kenya

    An acre of land requires 32,000-40,000 seedlings with spacing of 45 x 45 or 60 x 45 or 60 x 60cm. Closer spacing results into smaller heat but high yield per unit area while wider spacing gives bigger heat but low production per unit area. Although for hotter areas larger spacing is desirable to reduce moisture stress.
    Use 200kg to 400kg of NPK fertilizer per acre in the ratio of 2:3:4 while planting depending soil fertility of the farm. This is followed by 70 to 90kg LAN per acre at four weeks and eight weeks.
    According to Johnston Makau, an Agronomist at Amiran Kenya Limited, spinach rarely witness pests and diseases, however, farmers are asked to be on watch out for diseases like bacterial spot, downy mildew and pest like nematodes and cutworms.
    Small spinach leaves can be harvested with scissors by simply cutting the leaves at the stem. One way to do this is start harvesting the outer, older leaves first and then gradually working your way in to the center of the plant as those leaves mature. You can also just cut the whole plant off at the base. Harvesting spinach by this method will often allow it to re-sprout and give you another partial harvest

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