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    Baobab Fruit

    By George Munene

    Over 800 farmers in Ganze constituency, Kilifi County are unlocking and benefiting from mabuyu/baobab tree’s great potential by adding value to its fruit, using it to make cooking and cosmetic oils as well as baking flour.

    The Sh5 million United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) funded project has helped them acquire a specialised machine that sorts out the fruit’s powder from its seed. It further processes them separately adding value to each one.

    The project process over 700 kilograms of mibuyu daily.

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    “The seeds are pressed to make bath oils, skin oils, massage oils, and skin lotions. We use the powder in making jams, juices, ice cream sobres and chilli sauces,” explained a project member.

    Previously, the community only used mibuyu powder as a source of food and its leaves as a stew dish as well as a mosquito repellent.  

    However, the project which is run in Kaya Kauma forest faces a hinderance in its scaling up as mibuyu trees take up to 50 years to begin fruiting. Due to unchecked logging only 100 baobabs remain in the sacred forest.

    Related News: Baobab among first orphaned crops to undergo genetic mapping

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    “Kenyan agriculture research institutions need to invest in developing faster maturing mabuyu trees which will be a big help for our community as the tree has two harvesting seasons,”said a Ganze resident.

    Mibuyu trees are largely grown in Kenya’s Indian Ocean coastal strip. They are often sites for prayer and carrying out traditional rites amongst the Mijikenda. 

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    By George Munene

    The expected entry of Tanzanian onions into the Kenyan market is leading to a mass sell-off of stored onions by local growers. This has seen prices fall 12 per cent in the past month.

    “Kenyan farmers and wholesalers had been hoarding onions creating an artificial shortage in markets. 

    It was a seller's market with brokers futilely trying to push down onion farm gate prices and prices had been anticipated to hit the Sh100 mark by the end of May, ” said Joshua Mamwaka, a wholesaler at Nairobi's Marikiti market.

    However, it's now a race against time for onion farmers as they try to beat the flooding of Tanzanian onions into the market.

    Related News: Flooding of Ethiopian tomatoes drops prices 40%, onions on the rise

    Tanzanian onions are prized by Kenyan traders as they are often well dried and cured.

    White onions have however been amongst the best market performers holding steady at Sh100.

    Potatoes are down about 30 percent as are French beans owing to market oversupply. Green capsicums are also down 25 per cent. 

    Imported garlic has also been a marked underperformer, falling 15 per cent. Local garlic has however held its price. 

    In a spot check of Nairobi’s Muthurwa and Wakulima markets, tomato oversupply caused by both local growers and the entry of Ethiopian tomatoes has seen wholesale prices remain relatively stagnant at Sh6,000 for a 100-kilogram turbo box. 

    Related News: Rising wheat prices provides market opportunities for tuber farmers 

    Related News: Poultry farmers seek feed alternatives as prices soar

    According to data from the Kenya Agricultural Market Information System (KAMIS) the wholesale price of dry maize is highest in Nairobi's Nyamakima at Sh106 with the retail price at Sh123.33. Wholesale prices were lowest in Kajiado at Sh38.

    Average retail tilapia prices are down by Sh50 from a week ago to Sh510/kg on Thursday this week. Retail beef prices have held an average price of Sh466.37 through the week.

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     WhatsApp Image 2021 07 15 at 21.54.13

    By George Munene

    The price of bread is up Sh10 while that of a two-kilogram bag of wheat has risen by 25% from last year, hitting the Sh200 mark for the first time since 2018. 

    This provides an opportunity for farmers who grow wheat alternatives such as tubers to get their crops on more Kenyan tables.

    Francis Faluma farms some 10 acres of arrowroots in Matungu, Kakamega County. While business is good, he forecasts heady times for his business.

    “If wheat prices continue soaring, staples such as sweet potatoes, arrowroots, cassavas, and yams will come in handy for many Kenyan families,” he predicted.

    The price of corn in the country has risen 47 per cent in the past year, while that of wheat is up 58 per cent. Kenya imports over 70 per cent of its wheat leaving it at the mercy of a global buyers market where prices are up 30-40 per cent for the year.

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    Related News: Kenya running out of maize & wheat stocks

    Meanwhile, the price of arrowroots has held at Sh6,000 for a 90-100 kilogram bag for the better part of the year. 

    “Growing arrowroots also has the advantage of not requiring application of synthetic fertilisers,” he said. 

    The Russia-Ukraine conflict coupled with other external forces has spiked the cost of a 50-kilogram bag of fertiliser by 140 per cent to Sh6,000.

    He cultivates his entire crop sorely on manure and organic foliar. As well as being healthy for consumers it also reduces production costs.

    “Even with improved demand, the underlying production costs have remained the same meaning there isn't much of a need to raise prices and inconvenience consumers,” he said. 

    According to Kenya’s United Grain Miller’s Association, the country’s silos are almost out of maize while those of wheat can only last through September. 

    This week the government took the drastic step of granting cereal traders a waiver to import 540,000 metric tonnes of duty-free maize.

    Related News: Russia's invasion of Ukraine to push fertiliser & food prices even higher

    With the current high international prices, wheat manufacturers want the government to waive a similar 10 per cent levy on imported wheat under the duty remission scheme to arrest the current price surge of the grain in Kenya.

    Root and tuber crops are important staple energy sources, second only to cereals in tropical regions of the world.

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