Green gram farming in Kenya is a major income-generating activity for many small-scale farmers. The crop is highly valued for its nutritional benefits and is a staple food in many Kenyan households. Green gram farming is mainly practiced in semi-arid areas where it is more resilient to drought conditions compared to other crops.
Kenya is one of the leading producers of green grams in the world, with the crop being exported to other countries such as India, Pakistan, and the United Arab Emirates. The crop is relatively easy to grow and requires minimal inputs, making it an ideal crop for small-scale farmers with limited resources.
Green gram farming is a sustainable and profitable venture that has the potential to transform the lives of many small-scale farmers in Kenya. With the right farming practices and market linkages, farmers can increase their yields and income, thereby improving their livelihoods and contributing to the country’s food security.
Benefits of Green gram Farming
Green gram farming has numerous benefits for farmers in Kenya. Here are some of the advantages:
- High Market Demand: Green gram is a highly demanded crop in Kenya, making it a profitable venture for farmers. The crop is used in various dishes and is a staple food for many Kenyans.
- Drought Tolerance: Green gram is a drought-tolerant crop, making it suitable for cultivation in semi-arid areas. The crop requires minimal water, which reduces the cost of production for farmers.
- Short Maturity Period: Green gram has a short maturity period of 60 to 90 days, depending on the variety. This makes it a suitable crop for farmers who want to make quick returns on their investments.
- Soil Improvement: Green gram is a leguminous crop that improves soil fertility by fixing nitrogen in the soil. This reduces the need for expensive fertilizers, making it a cost-effective crop for farmers.
Additionally, green gram farming has the potential to improve food security in Kenya by providing a source of affordable protein for households. The crop is also versatile, as it can be intercropped with other crops such as maize, sorghum, and millet, which can increase yields and improve soil health.
In conclusion, green gram farming has numerous benefits for farmers in Kenya, including high market demand, drought tolerance, short maturity period, soil improvement, and potential to improve food security. These advantages make it a profitable and sustainable crop for farmers to cultivate.
Climate and Soil Requirements
Green gram farming requires specific climatic and soil conditions for optimal growth and yield. The crop is well adapted to semi-arid and sub-humid regions with an annual rainfall of at least 600mm. In Kenya, green gram farming is mainly practiced in the eastern and coastal regions, where the soil is sandy and well-drained.
The crop grows best in warm temperatures ranging from 20°C to 30°C. The planting season for green gram is between March and May, with the harvest season between August and October. During the planting season, the soil should be moist to ensure proper germination and establishment of the crop.
It is important to note that green gram is a legume crop, and it has the ability to fix nitrogen in the soil. Therefore, it is advisable to plant green gram after cereal crops such as maize or sorghum to improve soil fertility. Additionally, green gram requires well-drained soils with a pH range of 6.0 to 7.5.
Table 1 below summarizes the climate and soil requirements for green gram farming in Kenya.
|Climate||Soil Type||Soil pH||Planting Time||Harvest Time|
|Semi-arid and sub-humid||Sandy and well-drained||6.0 to 7.5||March to May||August to October|
Overall, green gram farming requires specific climatic and soil conditions for optimal growth and yield. Farmers need to ensure that they plant the crop during the right season and in the right soil conditions for maximum productivity.
Seed Selection and Planting
Green grams are an important crop in Kenya, and selecting the right seeds is crucial for a successful harvest. When selecting seeds, farmers should consider the variety, seed purity, and germination rate. It is important to choose seeds that are well adapted to the local environment and resistant to pests and diseases. Farmers may also want to consider purchasing certified seeds from reputable suppliers.
Before planting, it is important to prepare the seedbed properly. The soil should be well-drained and have a fine tilth to ensure good seed-to-soil contact. Farmers should also ensure that the seedbed is free of weeds and other debris that could interfere with germination. Seeds should be planted 3-5 cm deep, and spacing should be about 10 cm between plants and 30 cm between rows.
After planting, farmers should keep the soil moist to aid germination. It is important to monitor the crop regularly for pests and diseases, and take appropriate measures to control them. Early identification of problems can help prevent crop damage and ensure a healthy harvest.
In summary, selecting the right seeds and planting them correctly is essential for a successful green gram harvest. Farmers should choose seeds that are well adapted to the local environment and resistant to pests and diseases. Proper seedbed preparation and monitoring of the crop are also important for a healthy harvest.
Pest and Disease Management
Green gram farming in Kenya is not without its challenges, as pests and diseases can significantly reduce yields. However, with the right management practices, farmers can minimize the damage and keep their crops healthy.
One of the most common pests affecting green gram production in Kenya is the pod borer. This pest can cause significant yield losses if not controlled. Farmers can manage pod borers by using appropriate insecticides or by adopting cultural practices such as crop rotation and intercropping with other crops like maize and sorghum.
Another common pest is the aphid, which can cause significant damage to the crop by sucking sap from the plant. Farmers can control aphids by using insecticides or by introducing natural predators such as ladybirds and lacewings.
Diseases are also a major challenge in green gram farming. One of the most common diseases is powdery mildew, which can cause significant yield losses if not controlled. Farmers can manage powdery mildew by using appropriate fungicides or by adopting cultural practices such as crop rotation and intercropping with other crops like maize and sorghum.
Another common disease is bacterial blight, which can cause leaf spots and stem rot. Farmers can manage bacterial blight by using appropriate fungicides or by adopting cultural practices such as crop rotation and intercropping with other crops like maize and sorghum.
It is important for farmers to monitor their crops regularly for any signs of pests or diseases and take appropriate measures to control them. By adopting good management practices, farmers can minimize the damage caused by pests and diseases and increase their yields.
Harvesting and Post-Harvest Handling
Green grams mature within 60-90 days after sowing, depending on environmental factors as well as the variety. Harvesting should be done when the pods turn yellow and the leaves start to dry up. If the pods are left on the plant for too long, they will start to split and the seeds will fall to the ground, reducing the harvest yield.
Harvesting should be done by hand-picking the pods, which should be done carefully to avoid damaging the plant. The pods should then be left to dry in the sun for 2-3 days until they turn brown and crispy. After drying, the pods should be threshed to remove the seeds. This can be done by beating the pods with a stick or using a thresher machine.
Post-harvest handling is important to ensure that the seeds are not damaged and maintain their quality. The seeds should be cleaned to remove any dirt, debris, or broken seeds. This can be done using a winnowing basket or a fan. The seeds should then be stored in a clean, dry place in airtight containers to prevent moisture and insect damage.
Value addition and marketing can also be done to increase the profitability of green gram farming. The seeds can be processed into various products such as flour, snacks, and sprouts. Farmers can also form groups and cooperatives to sell their produce collectively, which can help them negotiate better prices and access larger markets.
Market Opportunities and Profitability
Green grams farming in Kenya offers a great opportunity for farmers to make a profit. The crop is in high demand both locally and internationally, and the government has put in place policies to support farmers in the sector. According to an economic review of the agriculture sector carried out by the Ministry of Agriculture between 2014 and 2016, Kenya produces 103,234 metric tonnes of green grams annually. However, this is significantly below the average national consumption of 130,000 metric tons. This presents a great opportunity for farmers to increase production and meet the demand.
The most promising commercial opportunities in Kenya are in agriculture and agro-processing, aviation parts, infrastructure services, education, energy storage and transmission, ICT hardware and software, healthcare equipment, safety and security technologies, and e-services. Green grams farming falls under the agriculture and agro-processing sector, which is one of the strongest performing sectors of the economy. Farmers can take advantage of these opportunities to increase profitability by exploring value addition options such as processing and packaging.
Moreover, the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization has released a new high-yielding green gram variety suitable for dry areas with potential yields of up to 1500kg per hectare, an increase of 87.5% from the existing varieties. This presents an opportunity for farmers to increase their yields and meet the high demand for the crop.
Overall, green grams farming in Kenya presents a great opportunity for farmers to increase profitability and contribute to the growth of the economy. By taking advantage of the available market opportunities, exploring value addition options, and adopting new high-yielding varieties, farmers can increase production and meet the demand for the crop.
Also Read: Bean Farming In Kenya
Sources: Karimi, R., et al. “Performance and participatory evaluation of green gram genotypes in the semi-arid environments of Eastern Kenya.” East African Agricultural and Forestry Journal 83.2 (2019): 119-136. Link: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00128325.2019.1599491
Muchomba, Mercy Kiende, Esther Mwende Muindi, and Jackson Muema Mulinge. “Overview of Green Gram (Vigna radiata L.) Crop, Its Economic Importance, Ecological Requirements and Production Constraints in Kenya.” Journal of Agriculture and Ecology Research International 24.2 (2023): 1-11. Link: http://apacademicpress.com/id/eprint/594/