Farmers at Kisiriri, Narok North Sub County could not hide their joy after a Pyrethrum Processing Company and the county government launched an initiative to revive pyrethrum farming in the area.
The crop neglected by farmers due to delayed payments will boost household incomes as pyrethrum matures fast and requires little input to enhance production.
Led by Narok County Farmers Forum Chairman, Simon Poror, the farmers thanked the government for the initiative saying they were currently leasing out their farms to outsiders due to the high costs of production.
Our soils are very good for farming crops like potatoes, cabbage, carrots, wheat and barley among others, but we lease out to rich people who end up benefiting from our land because we cannot afford to buy seeds, fertilizers, chemicals and pay for the man power, he said.
Poror who spoke after a field visit by the county Governor Samuel Tunai and Pyrethrum Processing Company Kenya board of Management said Narok is one of the leading counties in the use of farm chemicals that are made from pyrethrum.
We use a lot of chemicals on our farms to prevent diseases and pests. These chemicals are made from pyrethrum, so we must produce pyrethrum because we are main consumers of it’s by products, he said.
Poror expressed confident that the initiative will eradicate poverty as young men who spent a lot of time in drinking hubs will now be held busy in their farms.
Francis Lelempere, a farmer at Kisiriri area said he used to plant pyrethrum back in the year 2000 but uprooted it due to lack of market and delayed payments.
Pyrethrum market shrunk and middle men (brokers) took advantage of us. The price of one kilogram of pyrethrum dropped from Sh. 130 to Sh. 100 hence discouraging many farmers, he said urging the county government to develop more buying stores near to the farms to enable farmers transport their goods with ease.
We are ready to plant pyrethrum because it doesn’t require spraying and requires only a minimum tillage, but we are worried if the market will be sustainable, Lelempere said.
The Narok governor, Samuel Tunai has since announced that his government will buy pyrethrum seedlings for farmers to cover 10, 000 acres in a bid to motivate farmers.
The county government will buy seedlings to all willing farmers to encourage them to plant this cash crop. I will ensure I visit the farmers often to monitor the process, he said adding that his Government will push for legislation that will see a pyrethrum factory built in the area.
There is no pyrethrum factory in Narok despite us having the capacity to produce a lot of it. I will push for the building of pyrethrum factory in this county to enable our farmers sell their products at ease, said Governor Tunai.
The Narok County Commissioner, George Natembeya asked farmers to desist from leasing out their farms and instead use the opportunity to plant pyrethrum.The crop takes only six months to start flowering. That means after six months you will start enjoying the fruits of your labour. The harvest continues for four year before the crop degenerates, he said.
The Pyrethrum Processing Company Kenya Managing Director, Paul Lolwerikol said the government has paid the Sh. 70 million debt, owed to pyrethrum farmers in 10 pyrethrum producing counties.We have cleared all the old debts and we are ready to buy pyrethrum from farmers. We kindly request you to plant the crop in large amount to benefit from it, he said.
Lolwerikol stated they will be buying the product at Sh. 300 to 350 per kilogram as opposed to the old prices where the farmer got Sh. 100 per kilogram explaining that one acre of pyrethrum produce up to100 Kilograms per month during favourable seasons.
The best areas to plant the crop is where the altitude is between 1500 metres and 3000 metres above the sea level on well drained volcanic soil. It does well on soils with PH of 5.6 and temperature of between 5-15 degrees Celsius with a minimum of 750 mm of rainfall well spread throughout the year.
Pyrethrum is grown in the following counties: Nakuru, Meru, Nyandarua, Nyeri, Kiambu, Trans- Nzoia, Uasin Gishu, Keiyo Marakwet, West Pokot, Nandi, Baringo, Laikipia, Kericho, Bomet, Kisii, Nyamira and Bungoma.
Source: Kenya News Agency