Nakuru Unveils New Plan To Boost Pyrethrum Farming

The County Government of Nakuru is targeting to boost pyrethrum growing by ensuring that at least 30,000 acres of land is put under the crop in the region within the next two years.

Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries County Executive Committee Member (CECM) Mr Leonard Bor said this is part of the strategy to fully revive pyrethrum growing.

Other strategies, he said, include provision and distribution of enough quality seedlings to farmers, providing necessary resources and incentives and training more extension officers.

He disclosed that farmers in Biashara and Naivasha East Ward in Naivasha Sub-County had received 875,142 and 874,000 quality pyrethrum planting materials respectively, while Tinet, Amalo, Kiptagich, Sirikwa, and Kiptororo Wards in Kuresoi South Sub-County each received 645,178 seedlings. Mariashoni ward in Molo Sub-County received 164,714 seedlings.

‘The impact o
f pyrethrum farming on the livelihoods of the County residents has been phenomenal. With farmers producing an average of 600kgs per acre of dry flowers monthly, the average income stands at Kshs 180,000. This has been achieved with minimal production costs, which has made pyrethrum farming an economically viable investment,’ stated the CECM

He indicated that the devolved unit’s administration has entered into public-private partnerships to revamp the production of pyrethrum in the region.

The partnership includes the recruitment of new farmers who will be provided with seedlings in a plan that will hopefully take the county back to its glory days between the 60s and 80s when it was a leading producer of pyrethrum.

Governor Susan Kihika’s administration, stated the CECM was collaborating with the state-owned Pyrethrum Processing Company of Kenya (PPCK) and private entities to
put up nurseries that will provide farmers with quality seedlings with a view of increasing acreage under the crop.

‘Our goal is to cultivate 30,000 acres of pyrethrum in Nakuru, and to achieve this, we remain committed to supporting our farmers by providing them with high-quality planting materials that lead to increased yields and improved returns,’ the CECM stated

Mr. Bor said they will make sure sufficient land is available in pyrethrum growing zones of Molo, Kuresoi South, Kuresoi North and Njoro Sub-Counties to enable PPCK and other private sector actors to set up crop nurseries in a plan aimed at lessening the burden of sourcing for seedlings from other regions.

The nurseries will grow the developed Nakuru Region Pyrethrum Clone that is disease resistant and has higher pyrethrin content.

He asked farmers to embrace pyrethrum farming as it will earn them millions
of shillings since it is harvested every three months.

‘The crop does not need a lot of land. We are in a new dispensation as far as pyrethrum farming is concerned and I urge as many farmers as possible to embrace the crop,’ said the CECM

The pyrethrin content per kilo in Nakuru ranges from 1.4 to 1.8 per cent which is likely to increase as farmers grow better quality seedlings.

He said other than targeting the revival of the crop in traditional pyrethrum growing areas of Molo, Njoro, Kuresoi South and Kuresoi North they are also keen to break new grounds. ‘We will also be moving to other sub-counties which have an unexploited potential,’ Mr Bor said.

‘We believe this venture will help the county to achieve the envisaged County Agricultural and Economic Development Revolution.’

In the 1990s, pyrethrum was the third biggest export crop for Kenya, providing income
to over 200,000 smallholder farmers. At that time, Kenya controlled over 75 per cent of the world’s pyrethrum market. Today, Kenya’s share of the market has plummeted to just two per cent.

Production of pyrethrum in the country has since declined from a high of 18,000 tons in 1992 to the current national production of about 500 tons per year.

Pyrethrin is often used in household insecticides and products to control insects on pets or livestock. Pyrethrum, a broad-spectrum insecticide, affects a wide range of insects in gardens or farms. Experimental planting of pyrethrum in Kenya started in 1926 and the first few tonnes were exported six years later.

Governor Kihika’s administration has made the revival of pyrethrum growing a flagship project to create employment and wealth under the national government’s Vision 2030.

At least 10,000 farmers are growing pyrethrum on 3,00
0 acres across the 11 sub-counties but the governor said the county has the potential to put 30,000 acres under the crop.

The county is banking on the building of the pyrethrum processing factory in Naivasha and the planned construction of the County Aggregation and Industrial Park at Egerton Agro-City to upscale value-addition.

Ms. Bor added that pyrethrum farming had empowered hundreds of farmers in the county who in the past depended on maize farming.

‘We are happy that the sector has picked up and we shall continue to support farmers through the provision of seedlings, processors and a market for their produce,’ he said.

The CECM indicated that the county government was working with the Ministry of Agriculture, the PPCK, research institutions and other stakeholders as part of the strategies to fully revive pyrethrum growing.

He further said the strategy is to facil
itate provision and distribution of enough quality seedlings to farmers to increase the capacity of the pyrethrum processing plant.

He added that the county had established a call centre which was a one-stop shop where pyrethrum and other farmers could have their questions answered in real time to spur development in this critical sector

Mr. Bor stated that they were closely with the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service to ensure the seeds supplied to farmers are certified and suitable for planting in specific areas.

He advised investors in the lucrative industry to rethink their business model by ensuring they set aside enough money to pay farmers on time to enable them to improve on their production.

Kenya was once the world’s leading producer of pyrethrum but due to poor management of the defunct Pyrethrum Board of Kenya, the industry regulator, the business grapp
led with hard times for many years.

The CECM indicated that dedicating more land towards growing the crop was the surest way to increase production and assured farmers of getting good returns as pyrethrum had high demand globally. He said due to the global shift from synthetic to natural pesticides, pyrethrum farmers in Kenya stand to gain more if they improve production.

Mr. Bor affirmed that Kenya still had the potential to recapture its former 75 per cent pyrethrum world market share owing to the environment, legislation and the willing farmer base.

He said after liberalization of the industry in 2013 following the enactment of the Crops Act (2013) and AFA Act (2013), the industry had witnessed a gradual increase of interest by farmers and investors at various levels of the value chain.

‘The European Union and the United States are keen on chemicals sprayed on ho
rticulture products entering their markets and the local pyrethrum has a ready market owing to its high quality and low chemical use. Both European and America markets consume about 80 per cent of the Kenyan pyrethrum,’ Mr Bor said

Pyrethrum is grown in 18 counties with Nakuru, Nyandarua and West Pokot emerging as the main producers of the cash crop that was once christened ‘White gold of Kenya.’

The crop is also grown in Uasin Gishu, Kericho, Kisii, Kiambu, Narok, Nyamira, Nyeri, Baringo, Nandi, Meru, Embu and Murang’a, among other counties.

Source: Kenya News Agency