News and knowhow for farmers

Clever farmers will be smiling all the way to their banks after the El Nino rains

While the impending El Nino rains may be not be well
received by most, owing to the floods that have been associated with it in the
past, farmers can take advantage of the many waters it will bring to make some
quick harvests.

The popular perennial crops like maize, beans and millet, will
certainly not be the sensible option to go  for during the approaching rains, because of
their low tolerance to flooding, but there are many  high value crops that can bring farmers good
tidings when the rains end, in January 2016, while boosting food security in
the country.

Farmbiz Africa sought the opinions of experts on the kinds
of crops  farmers can plant in the four
months between October 2015 and January 2016 and we came up with an interesting
list.

Sweet Potatoes
Sweet Potatoes perform well in cool but frost-free growing seasons of 75 to
135 days. The ideal growing temperature for these tubers is 45°; hot weather
reduces the number of tubers per plant. With the El Nino phase predicted to
span over 120 days, the crop will be ripe for harvest for farmers who plant it
in October. One acre of sweet potatoes can yield upto 10,000 kg of sweet
potatoes, if proper husbandry is implemented. With one kilogram of sweet
potatoes costing Sh120 in Kenyan supermarkets, a farmer can make up to Sh1m
from a sweet potato harvest after the end of the rains.

Arrow Root

Another crop that can withstand heavy rains, and strong winds,
is the arrow root. The tuber crop requires moisturized soils throughout its
growth and can take up to eight months to mature. While other crops can only be
harvested once to avoid damage, this crop can be harvested for up to three
months.  One acre of arrowroot can
yield upto six tons of tubers. With the retail price for a kilogram of arrow root being an average of KSh150 in Nairobi, and its demand being at an all-time peak, farmers can easily make revenues of Sh900,000 from one acre of land during the El Nino months.

Pumpkins

Although pumpkins seeds require warm soils during planting, they
need plenty of water during the growing phase, which typically averages 110
days. One acre of pumpkin can yield 1000 marketable pumpkins, which will earn
the farmer Sh350,000 if each is sold at Sh350. Pumpkin leaves are also a
popular vegetable in Kenya.

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