A farmer posting with harvested hay. Kenya Seed Company is buying a kilo of Boma Rhode hay seeds at Sh950. Photo courtesy.
Kenya Seed Company is giving chance to farmers especially maize growers who have been facing marketing challenges such as dismal prices among others to grow Boma Rhode hay seeds on contract basis for more returns.
According to National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) one 90kg bag of maize will now be bought at Sh2,500 following a directive by president Uhuru Kenyatta earlier this year. This leaves a maize farmer with only Sh1,100 gross profit as production costs of the same bag of maize amounts to Sh1,400.
However, venturing into Boma Rhode hay farming can earn a farmer over Sh100,000 per acre from the sales of seeds and hay thanks to the Kenya Seed Company that is currently buying the seeds at Sh950 a kilo.
Normally, only five kilos of seed is needed per acre with approximated yield of 400 bales. Farmers are likely to harvest 60 kilo of seeds from the same. Selling a bale of Boma Rhode hay at Sh200 and kilo of its seeds for Sh950, a farmer is likely to get total gross return of Sh137, 000 per acre which is more than double Sh48,000 what a maize farmer can earn from the same potion of land.
This is about 65 per cent more gross income growing the pasture grass as compared to maize.
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Besides high revenues, Boma Rhode hay has less maintenance costs, with experts estimating total production costs to be up to Sh20,000 per acre as compared to about Sh40,000 per acre of maize.
Geoffrey Rono, a farmer from Narok County who in 2015 abandoned maize for Boma Rhode hay farming in his 112 acres of land is selling a bale of hay at between Sh200-250.
He harvests in phases with each phase earning him Sh60,000 translating to Sh180,000 per season. In a year, the sales total to Sh540,000 gross earnings before accounting for the seeds.
“For one to be contacted by the Kenya Seed Company to produce the seeds integrity, quality, quantity and a land not less than 50 acres for production is required,” said Joseph, an officer from the company’s seed department.
How to work with Kenya Seed Company
The farmer must apply to the company by filling the Seed Grower form which can be found on the company’s website. Farmers name, contacts, title deed, gender and age are some of details needed.
The farmer must also commit to follow seeds production rules as stipulated in the Seeds and Plant varieties Act of the Kenyan Constitution as well as advice from the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS).
This application can be done online with a farmer required to attach copies of National Identification card, land registration certificate and sketch map of the land. No application fee is required.
Boma Rhode hay grows well in well drained fertile soils with less acid. Soils with PH value of 5.5-6 and annual rainfall of at least 800mm is recommended.
Boma Rhodes take between 90-105 days to mature.