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    A farmer from Naro Moru village in Nyeri County has turned to Facebook to advertise and sell Brachiaria Mulatto II hybrid grass, a move that has enabled him to reach over 2,426 people.

    Gibson King’ori opened his Facebook page in January 2016 but only used it for posting social matters until he learnt how the platform could be used as a selling tool during a farmer’s field in the county. While there, they were trained on how to reach more customers on social media.

    RELATED ARTICLE: Brachiaria termed better than Napier in push-pull technology

    “I wondered how my Facebook friends could be my potential customers given that most of them I barely knew on a personal level but I decided to give it a try,” said King’ori.

    “I started by taking brachiaria grass photos and posting them on my account without including a caption. This brought in engagement as some asked questions while others appreciating the pictures by liking them.”

    He went an extra mile to ask friends he knew to share the photos on Facebook in a bid to reach more people. His followers increased and so did the interest in the grass.

    “When I realised more people were interested in the grass I started posting prices per split and sent messages of free delivery to those who were within 4-6km radius from my farm,” said King’ori.

    He sells a split at Sh10, a bundle of 100 splits  at Sh1000 and he can also measure them in kilograms whereby a kilo goes at Sh40.

    RELATED ARTICLE: Brachiaria grass rescues farmer's cow from drought

    Most of his customers, are livestock keepers and prefer brachiaria grass because of its high crude proteins at approximately 18 per cent, it is a drought tolerant fodder grass of up to six months, makes excellent silage and boost milk production in dairy cows and goats.

    Today King’ori can deliver his seedlings all over the country for customers who order over 100 splits. His means of delivery to people from far places such as Kisumu, Mombasa, Nakuru and Eldoret , is through courier services such as Wells Fargo, buses, or matatu sacco courier services.

    “I use other delivery services to reach my customers from far but for those within Central and Nairobi regions I use my car to make the deliveries,” said King’ori.

    RELATED ARTICLE: Brachiaria grass triples Siaya farmer's milk production

    To entice more buyers during the last festive season from December 1st 2017 to January 2018, he placed an offer: if a customer buys two bundles worth Sh2, 000 they would get another bundle free. This earned him Sh320, 000 as compared to Sh120, 000 he makes within two months on normal occasions.

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    Anne Chepng’eno, a farmer from Molo is growing potato crops for seeds in a bid to address the current shortage of the seeds helping farmers from all over the country to access them. 

    Currently there is potato seed demand of 100,000 tonnes in the country while basic demand by other seed multipliers is 1000 tonnes. Only 5000 tonnes is produced and supplied per year. Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO)  produce 300 tonnes of potato seeds every year for farmers according to Henry Kemjo, Research and Development officer at National Potato Council of Kenya (NPCK).

    Related News: Potato seed multiplication earns farmer good cash

    Related News: Potato farming transforming lives of thousands of Kenyan smallholder farmers

    In her 60 acres farm she grows potatoes and other crops using a rotational model, which she began in 2005. She acquires her seeds from Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) and involves Kenya Plant health inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) in her production system to ensure that her seeds are standard free from diseases.

    “I engage experts in every point of my stage of production; from where to plant the seeds, the type of seeds, weeding and harvesting among other agronomical practices,” said Chepng’eno.

    “As seed producers and other potato farmers, we are always advised not to plant potatoes on the same spot in the nest planting season to prevent any disease infection and improve soil fertility.”

    In a given season she grows potato in 20 acres of her land while the rest are occupied with other crops such as peas, maize, and some fodder crops.

    Chepng’eno who used to grow Dutch, Kenya Karibu, Tigoni and Sangi varieties of potato has in the recent years singled on Sangi as this variety has become farmers’ preference due to its desirable qualities.

    “Sangi sprouts faster, takes short time to cook and it is also tasty as compared to other potato types raising its market demand making many farmers to grow it,” said Chepng’eno.

    Related News: Choosing the right variety of potatoes scales up farmer’s income

    She expects to harvest the next bunch of seeds late January next year to catch up with farmers who target the long rains of March-April-May for planting. “By end of January 2018, my seeds will be ready for farmers who will be planting from March onwards,” she said

    In a season Chepng’eno harvests between 80 and 110 potato sacks of 50kg. She sells a kilo at Sh100 after approval by KEPHIS earning her approximately Sh500, 000 per season.

    “After certification my potato seeds are labeled and can be sold anywhere in Kenya,” she said.

    RELATED ARTICLE: Shortage of potato seeds slows production in Bomet

    She is currently a renowned potato seed producer in Molo who has undergone trainings by the Ministry of Agriculture and certification by KEPHIS. Last year she registered her company, Singus Company Ltd in a bid to win more seed supply tenders.

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    insect protein poultry feed

    By George Munene

    “According to our research, 75 per cent of East Africa’s millers are willing to fortify their feed with insects to reduce their costs while up to 95 per cent of fish and pig farmers are actively looking to bring down their production costs by incorporating insects into animal diets, said Dr. Tanga Chrysantus, Head of ICIPE’s Insects for Food, Feed, and Other Uses (INSEFF) program.

    Per ICIPE, in laying chicken, insect-supplemented diets have shown to increase laying life by up to 62 per cent.

    Despite this, slightly over 1000 farmers in East Africa are engaged in insect rearing, a number that remains low against existing demand.

    “We are closely looking into working on upscaling Black Soldier Fly (BSF) production by small farmers. Incorporating insect protein sources in our feeds we believe will go a long way in decreasing our production costs,” pointed out Tunga Nutrition General Manager Harrison Juma.

    In April, South African startup Inseco which uses insects to convert waste food and other organic byproducts into proteins, oils, and fertilizer, raised Sh636.2 million ($5.3M) in funding. This was the largest raised initial capital in South Africa with the company looking to use the funding to increase production capacity.

    Related News: Young farmer cuts lucrative niche in offering organic farming solutions

    Related News: Kenya waste-to-value company enlisting farmers to earn from black soldier flies

    “We found that the demand that we’ve encountered for the products exceeds our capacity to supply the minimum order quantity of some of the larger customers that we’re dealing with,” co-founder and CEO Simon Hazell told AgFunder.

    Ecodudu and Insectipro, both based in Kenya, are also upcycling organic waste using insects. Rwanda’s Magofarm produces animal feed ingredients from insects.

    According to a recently released Insect Protein Market Size report, the global insect protein market shows great growth potential. 

    It grew 8.2 per cent year-on-year (YoY) in 2022 securing a valuation of Sh42 billion ($349.2M). It is expected to surpass the Sh100 billion valuation ($838.5M) in 2032 with applications in animal and fish feed as well as food for human consumption.

    This insect protein market is also expected to be driven by: 

    • Rising healthcare and environmental concerns regarding the consumption of traditional animal protein sources. 
    • High population growth and rising concerns about environmental sustainability as consumption of animal products such as meat, eggs, and milk rises.

    This can be ameliorated by the availability of high protein content, minerals, beneficial fats, and vitamins-- around 2,000 bug species are already consumed as part of a regular diet by humans and domestic animals all over the world.

    • Rising worldwide awareness of the negative consequences of animal farming is forcing businesses to seek other alternatives. There are many important fatty acids, amino acids, minerals, and vitamins found in insects.
    • Cost benefits, production efficiency, and nutritional value supplied by insects.

    Related News: Kenya leads charge in emergent million-dollar insect farming business

    In global markets, beetles are considered highly nutritious and account for more than a quarter of the market, followed by caterpillars, whose consumption grew 10.2 per cent.

    Other profitable bug varieties included grasshoppers, crickets, and locusts. 

    Europe and North America are expected to account for the largest market share of more than three-fifths of the global insect protein market. 

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