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Coconut farmers halve growing time, triple yield with Indian hybrid

Coastal farmers growing the Deejay Sampoorna coconut imported from India have halved their growing time while tripling their yields.

The hybrid variety issued by KALRO to 200 Coastal farmers in 2019 is early maturing– taking just two-and-a-half to three years, and high yielding– giving 250 to 300 coconuts annually when fully mature.

Previously, most of these farmers who had grown the more common East African Tall (EAT) coconut variety, would take six to seven years to get their first crop and only harvest 80-100 coconuts.

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For Rashid Kalu, a young farmer in Kilifi County, compared to the EAT coconut, the new hybrids have been a game-changer. “The time it took to establish a new coconut farm was too demanding for young people. Three years is a more realistic timeframe.”

Measuring 12-15 meters, the Sampoorna is a dwarf coconut which makes it easily reachable compared to the 20-30 meter EAT which needs to be harvested by skilled climbers.

“As women, the taller coconut trees disadvantage us. I’ll need to pay someone to cut down green coconuts, mature coconuts, and makuti. With shorter coconut trees I can do this all on my own,” explained Patience Zubeda– a coconut farmer in Masangoni, Kilifi County.

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The Sampoorna hybrid Coconut project is spearheaded by the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization Mtwapa in collaboration with the Agriculture And Food Authority (AFA) Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS), Pwani University and the Micro Enterprises Support Programme Trust (MESPT) with funding from the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA).

“Thanks to this project, we are seeing a newfound buzz, especially among younger farmers, to take up coconut growing,” said Mwalimu Menza–a researcher at KALRO Mtwapa.

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