Jute mallow, also known as Mrenda, is a highly nutritious African leafy vegetable that is grown in western Kenya. It is a popular crop among farmers due to its numerous health benefits and high demand in local markets. Jute mallow is a versatile crop that can be eaten raw or cooked, and can be used fresh in salads, cooked as a side vegetable, or made into soup. Additionally, it is a source of income for many farmers in Kenya, making it a valuable crop to grow.
If you are interested in jute mallow farming in Kenya, there are several things you need to consider. First, jute mallow requires an annual rainfall of between 600-2000mm and grows best in alluvial, sandy loam soils that are well-drained and rich in organic matter. The crop also requires a temperature range of 15-30°C and can be grown at altitudes up to 1500m above sea level.
Land preparation is also an important aspect of growing jute mallow. To prepare the crop, you will need to create a fine seedbed as the seeds are small. Additionally, it is recommended that you apply manure at a rate of 3-4kg per meter square. By following these guidelines, you can successfully grow jute mallow in Kenya and reap the many benefits of this nutritious and versatile crop.
Climate and Soil Requirements
Jute mallow, also known as Mrenda, is a hardy plant that can thrive in a wide range of climatic conditions. However, to achieve optimal growth and yield, certain conditions must be met.
Firstly, jute mallow requires a warm climate with temperatures ranging from 15 to 30 degrees Celsius. The plant also requires a moderate to high amount of rainfall, with an annual range of 600 to 2000mm. This rainfall should be well-distributed throughout the year, with no prolonged dry spells that could stunt the plant’s growth.
The relative humidity required for jute mallow growth ranges between 70-90%. This high humidity is essential for the plant to grow and thrive, and it is important to ensure that the plant is not exposed to prolonged dry spells.
The soil requirements for jute mallow are not very strict, but certain conditions must be met. The plant grows best in alluvial and sandy loam soils that are well-drained and rich in organic matter. The soil should also have a slightly acidic to neutral pH range of 5.5 to 7.5.
It is important to note that jute mallow can tolerate a range of soil types, including clay loams, as long as the soil is well-drained and rich in organic matter. The plant can also grow in soils that are slightly saline or alkaline, but it is important to ensure that the soil is not too acidic or too alkaline, as this can affect the plant’s growth and yield.
Jute mallow, also known as mrenda, is an easy-to-grow plant that can be propagated from seeds. Here are the steps to propagate jute mallow:
- Prepare the soil by removing weeds and rocks. Jute mallow grows best in well-drained soil with a pH of 6.0 to 7.5.
- Sow the seeds directly into the soil at a depth of 0.5 cm. Plant 2-3 seeds per hill in hills spaced 5-10 cm apart.
- Water the seeds regularly to keep the soil moist. Jute mallow requires consistent moisture, so make sure the soil does not dry out.
- Thin the seedlings once they reach a height of 5-10 cm. Keep the strongest seedlings and remove the weaker ones to give the remaining plants enough space to grow.
Propagation can also be done through stem cuttings. Here are the steps to propagate jute mallow through stem cuttings:
- Select a healthy stem from an established jute mallow plant. The stem should be at least 10 cm long and have several leaves.
- Cut the stem at a 45-degree angle using a clean, sharp knife or scissors.
- Remove the leaves from the bottom half of the stem.
- Dip the cut end of the stem in rooting hormone powder to encourage root growth.
- Plant the stem in a pot filled with well-draining soil. Water the soil to keep it moist but not waterlogged.
- Place the pot in a warm, bright location but out of direct sunlight.
- After a few weeks, the stem should develop roots and new growth. Once the new growth reaches a height of 5-10 cm, it can be transplanted into the garden.
Jute mallow is a hardy plant that can grow in a range of soils and climatic conditions. Here are some guidelines for planting:
- Seedbed preparation: The seedbed should be prepared by tilling the soil and removing any weeds. Apply organic manure at a rate of 3-4kg per square meter.
- Spacing: Jute mallow should be planted at a spacing of 30cm x 30cm between plants and rows.
- Seed rate: The recommended seed rate is 2-3kg per acre.
- Planting time: Jute mallow can be planted any time of the year, but it is best to plant during the rainy season.
The following steps should be followed when planting jute mallow:
- Prepare the seedbed: Till the soil and remove any weeds. Apply organic manure at a rate of 3-4kg per square meter.
- Sow the seeds: Sow the seeds at a depth of 1-2cm and cover with soil. Water the seeds immediately after planting.
- Thin the seedlings: Thin the seedlings to one plant per hole when they reach a height of 10cm.
- Watering: Water the plants regularly, especially during the dry season. Avoid overwatering as this can lead to root rot.
- Fertilization: Apply nitrogenous fertilizer at a rate of 50kg per acre after the first harvest.
By following these guidelines, you can ensure a successful harvest of jute mallow.
Jute mallow requires soil with high organic matter content for optimal growth. The use of organic fertilizers such as compost, manure, and green manure is highly recommended. These fertilizers not only provide essential nutrients to the plant but also improve soil structure and water-holding capacity.
It is important to carry out soil tests to determine the nutrient status of the soil before applying fertilizers. This will help in determining the appropriate type and amount of fertilizer to apply.
For jute mallow, a balanced fertilizer with an NPK ratio of 10:10:10 is recommended. This should be applied at a rate of 150-200kg/ha. The fertilizer should be applied in two splits. The first application should be done at planting, and the second application should be done after 4-6 weeks.
The use of chemical fertilizers should be done with caution as they can lead to soil degradation and environmental pollution. It is advisable to use them sparingly and in combination with organic fertilizers.
Table 1 below shows the recommended fertilizer application rates for jute mallow.
|Fertilizer type||Application rate|
|Green manure||4-6 tons/ha|
Besides fertilization, jute mallow requires adequate water for optimal growth. It is important to ensure that the crop is well-irrigated during the growing season. The use of mulching and other water conservation techniques can also help in reducing water loss through evaporation.
Jute mallow requires adequate water supply to grow well. The amount of water required will depend on the soil type, climate, and growth stage of the plant. In Kenya, the rainfall varies in different regions, and it may not be sufficient to support the growth of jute mallow. Therefore, farmers need to supplement the water supply through irrigation to ensure a good yield.
Here are some irrigation methods that farmers can use:
- Drip irrigation: This is a water-efficient method that delivers water directly to the roots of the plants. It reduces water loss through evaporation and runoff and ensures that the plants get enough water.
- Sprinkler irrigation: This method involves spraying water over the plants using sprinklers. It is suitable for large-scale farming and can cover a wide area.
- Flood irrigation: This method involves flooding the field with water. It is not suitable for jute mallow farming as it can cause soil erosion and waterlogging.
It is important to irrigate the jute mallow plants at the right time to avoid water stress. Water stress can cause the leaves to wilt and reduce the yield. Farmers should monitor the soil moisture levels regularly and irrigate the plants when necessary.
Additionally, farmers should avoid overwatering the plants as it can lead to waterlogging and root rot. They should also ensure that the irrigation water is clean and free from contaminants that can affect the quality of the produce.
Pest and Disease Control
Like any other crop, jute mallow is susceptible to pests and diseases that can significantly reduce the yield. Here are some common pests and diseases that affect jute mallow and how to control them:
Nematodes: Practice crop rotation, drench with Trichoderma or use nematicides.
- Crop rotation: Plant non-host crops such as maize or beans in the same field for at least two years before planting jute mallow again.
- Trichoderma: Apply Trichoderma to the soil before planting or as a drench during the growing season.
- Nematicides: Use chemical nematicides such as oxamyl or carbofuran according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Red spider mite: Spray with miticide eg dynamic.
- Miticide: Use miticides such as dynamic according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Leaf spot: Remove older leaves, roguing.
- Remove older leaves: Remove infected leaves and destroy them to prevent the spread of the disease.
- Roguing: Remove infected plants and destroy them to prevent the spread of the disease.
Powdery mildew: Spray appropriate fungicide eg score.
- Fungicide: Use fungicides such as score according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
It is important to monitor the crop regularly for any signs of pests and diseases and take appropriate action immediately to prevent the spread of the problem. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using pesticides and fungicides.
Harvesting jute mallow is a simple process that can be done by hand. The leaves and young shoots can be pruned from the plant as they emerge and are most desirable when young. It is important to harvest the leaves regularly to encourage new growth and prevent the plant from becoming too woody.
When harvesting, it is important to use clean, sharp tools to avoid damaging the plant. The leaves and shoots can be harvested at any time, but the best time to harvest is in the morning when the plant is still cool and moist from the dew.
Once harvested, the leaves and shoots should be washed thoroughly to remove any dirt or debris. They can be stored in a cool, dry place for up to a week or frozen for longer storage.
For seed production, the plant should be allowed to mature and produce seed pods. The pods can be harvested when they turn brown and dry. The seeds can be removed from the pods and stored in a cool, dry place for future planting.
Jute mallow is a highly nutritious leafy vegetable that is gaining popularity in Kenya. It is a good source of income for farmers, and with the growing demand for AIVs, the market for jute mallow is expanding. Here are some tips on how to market your jute mallow:
- Identify your target market: Before you start marketing your jute mallow, you need to know who your target market is. Is it local consumers, supermarkets, or restaurants? Knowing your target market will help you tailor your marketing efforts and make them more effective.
- Highlight the health benefits: Jute mallow is highly nutritious and has a number of health benefits. It is rich in vitamins A and C, iron, calcium, and protein. Highlighting these benefits in your marketing efforts can help attract health-conscious consumers.
- Offer recipe ideas: Many consumers may not be familiar with jute mallow and may not know how to prepare it. Offering recipe ideas and cooking tips can help encourage consumers to try it.
- Participate in farmers markets: Farmers markets are a great way to connect with consumers and sell your jute mallow directly to them. They also provide an opportunity to get feedback from consumers and build relationships.
- Partner with local restaurants: Partnering with local restaurants can help you reach a wider audience and increase your sales. You can offer to supply them with fresh jute mallow or work with them to develop new dishes that feature the vegetable.
By following these tips, you can effectively market your jute mallow and increase your sales. Remember to always be honest about the quality and benefits of your product, and never make exaggerated or false claims.
Also Read: Spinach Farming In Kenya
Sources: Ekesa, B. N., Mary Khakoni Walingo, and M. O. Onyango. “Accesibility to and consumption of indigenous vegetables and fruits by rural households in Matungu division, western Kenya.” African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development 9.8 (2009). Link: https://www.ajol.info/index.php/ajfand/article/view/48410
Onyango, Mary Abukutsa. “Seed production and support systems for African leafy vegetables in three communities in western Kenya.” (2016). Link: http://ir.jkuat.ac.ke/handle/123456789/2364