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Turmeric processor recruiting 800,000 farmers to grow lucrative crop

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Uganda-based turmeric processor is looking to recruit over 800,000 Kenyan farmers to grow the highly lucrative crop with an earning potential of Sh500,000 an acre.

Oliver Ndegwa, the head of Turmeric Kenya, is targeting at least 600,000 Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) farmers and another 200,000 sugarcane farmers supplying 50MT of the herb every month.

A turmeric farmer himself, he currently grows 5,000 acres of the crop in Gulu, Uganda, and works with 700 Ugandan out-growers who supply Victoria Processors in Kampala.

He will partner with the Kenya Industrial Research and Development Institute (KIRDI) incubation programme for processing services in Kenya. The turmeric will be processed into herbal tea (Tea Dawa) and turmeric powder for export.

“We are currently working with KTDA as well as government-owned and private sugar manufacturers to get this project off the ground,” he explained.  

Turmeric is an ideal side venture for tea and sugarcane farmers as it requires little land to cultivate and can supplement their incomes as they have to wait three to seven months before getting paid.

Renowned for its striking bright yellow colour, peppery earthy flavour, and intense aroma it is part of the ginger family. Like ginger and carrots, the plant’s underground stems are its useful part. 

It also looks identical to ginger barring its bright deep orange colour that has seen it dubbed ‘the yellow-carrot’. Turmeric thrives predominantly in warm climates worldwide. 

A finger of turmeric goes for Sh20 in local markets–a price that rises considerably if you sell to local markets. A kilo of the crop fetches Sh250 with half an acre yielding 2,500 kilos of dried turmeric.

In open-field cultivation at least 5,000 fingers can fit into half an acre costing Sh55,000 in seeds. Once costing for seeds, manure, labour, pest control is accounted for this leaves one with a net income of close to 500,000 shillings in 6.2 months.

“Although we are ready to work with all growers, ideally we would prefer these farmers as they already have a proven farming background. KTDA and sugar companies also have existing agri-produce offtaking services which would greatly reduce our operating costs,” Ndegwa added.

Kenya currently imports Sh28.6 million of turmeric or Curcuma from India. Between 2023 and 2033, the global turmeric market is scheduled to rise 5.5 per cent every year to Sh757,920 million.

“Despite having a robust growing market locally and internationally, we import almost all the turmeric consumed in Kenya as most farmers lack knowledge on its cultivation and access to quality-seeds,” he informed.

To remedy this Ndegwa is looking to introduce CIM-Pitambar, the latest turmeric variety in India which is the world’s largest producer, consumer, and exporter of turmeric.

The variety is high yielding producing 5MT per acre, matures in just 180 to 190 days and also has high circumin which is considered a mark of quality in turmeric.

Oliver Ndegwa: 0722520083/ 0733520083

Read more:

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