News and knowhow for farmers

High yielding Burundian arrowroot variety tubers available in Kenya

yam

James Njeru holding an arrowroot tuber. He sourced the parent plants from Burundi and has since multiplied the tubers for production and sale. Photo Courtesy.

Farmers in Kenya can now improve their yields and incomes by growing a high yielding Burundian arrowroot variety which matures within a short period of time and weighs up to 5-6 kilos per piece as compared to other varieties already in market.

The yam variety which was introduced in the Kenyan market by an agro-entrepreneur from Nyeri County in 2016 has gone through several trials and tuber multiplication by farmers and is maturing within 5-6 months as compared to the rest which take 7-10 months to mature.

According to the agro-entrepreneur, James Njeru Ndirangu the Burundian arrowroot variety is also resilient to hash weather and it can do well in any type of soil provided mulching is done to keep the soil moist.

“Farmers do not need to plant the arrowroot near water sources or on a specific soil type because it can do well even in dry places provided the base of the plant is covered with some plant leaves among other farm wastes,” said Njeru.

“Farmers can also use cow manure for planting which should be done on raised mounds 6-8 inches tall and about 12 inches wide.”

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During dry season, the soil should be well irrigated before planting the tubers or slips 12-18 inches apart and deep enough to cover the roots by about a half inch of the stem with the soil in the bed or 10 cm deep in soil to avoid exposure to sun.

Njeru had sourced the tubers when he was a truck driver working with a Chinese company in Burundi back in 2015.

“Through connections in Kenya, I got a chance to travel to Burundi to work as a truck driver for a Chinese company which had a construction contract in the country. Curiosity and passion in farming drove me to the nearby farms where I saw the yams then thought of how I would carry them home.”

He then bought some two tubes which by the end of 2016 when the contract was over he brought back and planted at his home in Nyeri. Within five months the crops were ready for harvesting and also had multiplied to produce other seedlings.

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Njeru who left his job to focus on growing and multiplying the crop for sale is now running a big orchard and a seedling nursery where he raises hass avocado, tree tomato, macadamia, passion fruit and pomegranate seedlings among others.

“I currently sell between 500-1,000 seedlings a day and this sometimes shoots up to 10,000 during rainy seasons when the demand is high against the supply. I have farmers across the country whom I supply on a daily, weekly or monthly basis,” he said.

He sells tree tomato seedlings at Sh80 each, grafted hass avocado seedlings at Sh90 and yam tubers at Sh100 each. He has over 2,000 arrowroot tubers to sell.

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Nutrition value of yams

Arrowroot are a rich source of vitamin C, boosts the body’s immunity, fastens wound healing especially to people with diabetes and strong bones, besides other vital nutrients required in the body.

It is also rich in nutrients including Vitamins A, B, C, and potassium which are crucial ingredients to strong bones, teeth and a booster to body’s immunity.

Market

Depending on the size of the yam, the buying price of farms is between Sh50 to Sh120 a piece in most open-air markets in Kenya while in up markets, the produce retail at Sh100 to Sh180 a piece.

Njeru can be reached on +254 711 500966

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