News and knowhow for farmers

Drip irrigation reduces water consumption for Kiambu farmer by 50 per cent

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By Fredrique Achieng’

A cabbage farmer in Kiambu has reduced the water consumption for his five metres by 30 metres farm from 1,000 litres a week to 500 litres through the use of drip irrigation.

According to research done by FarmBiz Africa, irrigation is a method that is yet to be fully exploited since only four per cent of the total of 2.9 ha of arable land in Kenya uses irrigation.

“What made me instantly switch from can watering to drip irrigation is its efficiency both in terms of labour and water consumption. This is because I used to water vegetables twice a week using 1,000 litres but now I only use 500 litres over the same period of time,” says Alex Kamau cabbage farmer in Kiambu.

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In this system of irrigation, water drips slowly directly on the soil surface or on the plant’s base using a simple network of pipes and valves, making it a more viable method of watering crops compared to overhead/ direct watering of the vegetables, which tend to create a damp microclimate that promotes the growth of fungi.

 Alex switched to the use of drip irrigation kits from Twiga Chemicals in 2018 which cost him Sh20,100 for the purchase and installation.

“With this system, I am able to water my 1,000 cabbage heads that I supply to locals and in the market around here without a lot of labour involved, since it only depends on gravity because while setting up, the water source/tank is set on higher ground compared to other irrigation systems that depend on either electricity or solar power,” said Alex.

The drip irrigation system by Twiga Chemicals comes in different forms, as a Bucket Kit, Drum Kit and Tank Kit that retail at Sh4,880, Sh20,100 and Sh25,000 respectively. Each kit comes with 100m of pipe, valves and end caps.

Aside from reducing the amount of water he uses in his farming venture, Alex adds that with this method of irrigation, the weight of his cabbage heads has increased from 2kg to 5 kg, which has increased the wholesale price for each cabbage head to Sh50 per head up from Sh30 per head.

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But the watering has to be optimal to make these gains. “While using this system of irrigation, one can mistakenly underwater or overwater their crops. The recommended timeframe is a period of between 2 to 3 hours twice a week since if one does this long it will result in lower cabbage size,” said Alex.

Twiga Chemicals can be reached at 0722 207 847 or 0733 639 334

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