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Elgeyo Marakwet: How a quarter of an acre compound can give enough produce for food and sale

elgeyo marakwet farmers field day
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Prof Malinga (In a red trench) looking on as  Deputy Governor of Elgeyo Marakwet Wisley Rotich tastes a sweet potato at Chabara Farmers Training Centre. Photo courtesy.

Elgeyo Marakwet County farmers were on Tuesday during a field day held at Chebara Farmers Training Centre trained on how to turn their compounds often left as lawns to make money and grow enough food to feed their families. 

For the live fence, most families often use trees which act as wind breakers. The trees take at least 15 years to be harvested and in a space of three metres, a farmer can grow up to 70 trees on his compound. And giving it a 90 per cent growth rate, a total of 60 trees will grow to maturity which could earn the farmer Ksh 900,000 assuming that each tree is sold at Ksh10,000.

According to Kenya Agricultural Reseach Organisation (KARLO) Institute of Food Crops Research Director Dr Joyce Malinga, the above plot could earn the farmer more if the trees are substituted with either macadamia trees, sought for its nuts and avocados.

While taking farmers through the benefits of the two crops, Dr Malinga said most parts of Elgeyo Marakwet are suitable for the crops which would also beautify homesteads.

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One macadamia tree can produce 20kgs on average, a farmer could earn Sh5,200 a year since the nuts are harvested twice a year. On the same piece of land, a farmer can grow up to 14 macadamia trees on his compound. The trees, at the 15th  year, will earn him  Ksh780,000.But since the tree will start producing the nuts at around three years, the farmer could earn more.

“That is the better side of ‘going nuts’,” Dr Malinga jokingly said to the farmers during the field day as she encouraged them to venture into growing the crop.

Deputy Governor Wisley Rotich said the county in conjunction with other partners would start a nursery at the Centre so that farmers could access the seedlings. He urged farmers to buy the seedlings from available stockist while the county sets up the nurseries.

“I am happy that many of our farmers want to grow macadamia. This is one way of kicking out poverty that has pulled us down for so long.” he said.

He said maize being the main cash crop did not get major returns due to low prices. He further urged farmers to grow other crops like beans and avocado.

 “On average,farm demonstration has shown that 25kg seeds of the beans produce between six to 10 bags translating to between Sh48,000 to Sh80,000 per season. The beans also are of high nutrition value and takes shorter time to mature compared to maize,” he added.

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