The Kenyan Government through the ministry of agriculture has announced plans to export all the hay produced from the country to Djibouti after striking a deal with the Horn of Africa nation.
In this, the ministry is asking farmers to plant more grass especially Boma Rhodes variety for sale just like other cash crops.
Currently, Kenya exports tea, coffee, fruits, flowers and vegetables. Tea remains the leading export earner with earnings increasing by 18.3 per cent to Sh147.3bn last year.
In 2017, horticultural export earnings maintained an upward trend at Sh113.3bn, accounting for 21.4 per cent of the total value of domestic exports according to the 2018 economic survey report.
Hay making method for smallholder farmers
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Boma Rhodes is a grass variety used for hay making. It does well in areas with less than 900mm of rainfall per annum in altitudes of between 600 to 2000m above sea level. It performs well in loamy fertile soils.
The grass can be planted by using either seeds or root splits and is sown when the soil is loose. At planting, make furrows 25cm apart and drill the seeds in at a rate of 12kg per hectare (2.5 acres) and cover the soil lightly.
Apply nitrogen fertilizer during heavy rains at the rate of 100kg per ha.
Harvesting of the grass is done as soon they start flowering and is cut close to the ground to stimulate spreading.
An acre of land can produce 200 to 250 bales per season. In this, a farmer harvesting three times in a year can reap up to 600 to 750 bales per year.
A bale of hay retails at Sh200 meaning this type of farming can earn Sh120,000 to Sh150,000 per year, Sh60,000 more than an what maize farming earns with the same piece of land.