Farmers courting a unique organic fertilizer made from decomposing vegetation are tripling yields and incomes, while getting to keep it for upto five years while still active, insulating themselves from the volatile fertilizer prices and supply in the country.
Dubbed Rutuba, the fertilizer can be applied to different crops with each crop requiring different quantities based on its nutritional requirement. For example horticultural produces require more than cereals therefore For fruits related crops like coffee, a farmer applies 250gm while for vegetables, wheat and maize, 10 gm are sufficient.
It can also be used for both top dressing and during planting just like conventional fertilizers. The dark brown mid powdery fertilizer was ranked number one by the Agricultural Show of Kenya in Kitale in 2012 and has undergone tests by various institutions including the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services (KEPHIS) and Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) for the past 10 years.
The fertilizer is different from the conventional ones due to its additional nutritional components. “ What makes the fertilizer unique compared to the others are the many components that assist in soil fertility and aid in other processes of plant growth, While conventional fertilizers have not more than four plant nutritional elements, Rutuba has 16 macro and micro-trace elements which play different roles on the plant life right from when seeds are planted.” said Russell Ochieng’ Rutuba marketing account manager.
Common elements in the fertilizer not found in synthetic fertilizers include boron, a nutrient crucial in any plant's vegetative and flowering stage. Boron deficiency is the most widespread micronutrient deficiency around the world and causes large losses in crop production both in crop value and yields. Again it is not only used for dry planting, but also as a top dress, saving the farmer the hussles associated with seasonal shortages of conventional top dress inputs.
It is a message farmers share. Job Murage Kariuki, a coffee farmer has had his produce triple since using Rutuba organic fertilizer. He says “Before I started using the fertilizers four years ago, I used to produce 1, 052kg of coffee in my one acre piece of land but am now producing 3, 760kg per year.” And with the price having also doubled, from the paltry Sh30 to Sh70 last year, based on the good perfomance of coffee in the global market, Kariuki has been smiling all the way to the bank.
Bonventure Kulubi, a capsicum farmer has no regrets using Rutuba. “I use it in my one acre capsicum nursery. Capsicum is very sensitive especially at a tender stage and while it is the first time in using it, I recorded 98 percent success in the seedling germinating to maturity,” he said.
Being organic, Rutuba does not have an expiry date, it can be active even after five years hence being reliable in the long term. But with only two factories processing the fertilizer in the country, one in Nairobi and Kitale, farmers says accessibilty has become hard coupled with the higher charges. A 50kg bag costs sh3, 000. Rev Nelson Kariuki however says they are addressing the shortcomings.
To get more information you can contact Rev. Nelson Kariuki 0722828196 or Russell Ochieng’ 0729514051
Written by Baron Shitemi for African Laughter