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US Commits Sh2.1B to Revive Kenya’s Pyrethrum Industry

The United States government has committed Sh2.1 billion to support the revival of the pyrethrum industry in Kenya with a focus on uplifting small-scale farmers.

Sh1.4B Pyrethrum Factory Construction

Sh1.4 billion of this will be dedicated to the construction of the modern Kentegra Biotehc pyrethrum processing plant in Naivasha. When completed it is projected that the ultra-modern factory will process 300,000 tonnes of pyrethrum by the end of this year and more than 750,000 tonnes by 2025 supporting over 90,000 small-scale pyrethrum farmers.

Speaking in Naivasha on Monday during the groundbreaking ceremony, United States Ambassador to Kenya, Margaret Whitman, said that the factory which had been funded by the US International Development Finance Corporation will provide a market for smallholder pyrethrum farmers within and outside Nakuru county.

Kentegra is a leading U.S-Kenyan biotech company that specializes in the production of organic insecticide pyrethrum. 

The processing plant will occupy 12 acres of land within the ‘New Vasha Special Economic Zone’ and will be situated across the Delamere stop shop on the Naivasha-Nakuru highway.

Game Changer for Pyrethrum Farming

Nakuru County Governor Susan Kihika termed the billion shilling investment a game changer for pyrethrum growing in the region. “Our resolve as Nakuru County government is to restore pyrethrum as the county’s main commercial crop is driven by the fact that a decade ago Kenya accounted for 80 per cent of all pyrethrum bought by international companies. The potential for pyrethrum farming stands at 30,000 acres of land but only 2,148 acres of land is currently under pyrethrum production,” she added. 

Addressing Pyrethrum Farmer Challenges

The governor noted that pyrethrum farmers face challenges with inadequate funding, inadequate planting materials, competition from higher-value crops, poor pricing, post-harvest losses, pests and diseases, high labour costs, as well as poor infrastructure.

“To solve these issues the county government is working in concert with other players in the subsector providing seedlings to farmers, promoting contract farming between farmers and processors Kentegra, such as Pyrethrum Processing Company of Kenya (PPCK) and Africhem Botanicals, ensuring timely payment of farmers and provision of extension services, as well as providing farmers with modern dryers in partnership with stakeholders such as Good People International,” she observed.

Fall From Grace

In the 1990s, pyrethrum was the 3rd largest Kenyan export crop, providing an income for over 200,000 smallholder farmers. Kenya was controlling over 90 per cent of the world pyrethrum market while today its share is two per cent. Production of pyrethrum in the country declined from a high of 18,000 tons in 1992 to the current national production of less than 500 tons per year.

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