Pyrethrum farming in Kenya is an important agricultural activity. Pyrethrum is a natural insecticide that is extracted from the flowers of the pyrethrum plant. It is widely used in the production of insecticides, pesticides, and other products that are used to control pests.
Pyrethrum farming in Kenya has a long history, dating back to the early 20th century. The country has been one of the largest producers of pyrethrum in the world, with the flower being grown in various regions across the country. The high demand for pyrethrum has made it an important cash crop for many farmers in Kenya.
Despite the challenges faced by pyrethrum farmers in Kenya, such as climate change, pests, and diseases, the industry remains a vital part of the country’s economy. The government has put in place measures to support pyrethrum farming, including providing farmers with training and access to credit facilities. As such, pyrethrum farming continues to be a promising venture for farmers in Kenya.
History of Pyrethrum Farming in Kenya
Pyrethrum farming in Kenya has a long and interesting history. The plant was first introduced in Kenya in the early 1900s by British colonialists who saw its potential as a cash crop. The first pyrethrum farms were established in the highlands of Kenya, particularly in the Rift Valley region.
During the early years of pyrethrum farming in Kenya, the crop was mainly grown by European settlers who had the resources and expertise to cultivate and process the flowers. However, after Kenya gained independence in 1963, the government embarked on a program to promote pyrethrum farming among small-scale farmers as a way of boosting rural incomes.
By the 1970s, pyrethrum farming had become a major source of income for many small-scale farmers in Kenya. The government established the Pyrethrum Board of Kenya to regulate the industry and provide technical support to farmers. The board also set up pyrethrum processing factories in various parts of the country to ensure that farmers had a ready market for their produce.
However, in the 1990s, the pyrethrum industry in Kenya began to decline due to a number of factors, including poor management of the Pyrethrum Board, competition from synthetic insecticides, and the emergence of new pests and diseases that affected pyrethrum production. As a result, many farmers abandoned pyrethrum farming and turned to other crops.
In recent years, there has been renewed interest in pyrethrum farming in Kenya, with the government and private sector working together to revive the industry. Efforts are being made to improve the quality of pyrethrum seeds, provide technical support to farmers, and establish new markets for pyrethrum products both locally and internationally.
Also Read: The State of Pyrethrum Farming in Kenya
Suitable Climate and Soil for Pyrethrum Farming
Pyrethrum is a high-value crop that thrives in cool and moist conditions. The crop requires a moderate climate with temperatures ranging between 15°C and 25°C. The ideal temperature for pyrethrum growth is between 18°C and 20°C. Pyrethrum is a hardy crop that can tolerate frost, but it is sensitive to high temperatures and drought.
The crop grows best in well-drained soils that are rich in organic matter. The soil should have a pH range of 5.5 to 7.5. Pyrethrum requires soils that are fertile with good water retention capacity. The crop can grow in a wide range of soils, including sandy loam, clay loam, and volcanic soils. However, the soil should not be too acidic or too alkaline, as this can affect the growth and yield of the crop.
Pyrethrum is a crop that requires a lot of attention, especially during the early stages of growth. The crop requires regular watering, especially during the dry season. The crop should be watered two to three times a week, depending on the weather conditions. Overwatering can lead to waterlogging, which can affect the growth and yield of the crop.
It is important to note that pyrethrum requires a lot of nutrients to grow and produce high yields. Farmers should ensure that the soil is well-fertilized before planting the crop. The crop requires nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, which are essential for growth and development. Farmers should also ensure that the soil is free from pests and diseases, which can affect the growth and yield of the crop.
In conclusion, pyrethrum farming requires a suitable climate and soil for the crop to thrive. The crop requires a moderate climate with temperatures ranging between 15°C and 25°C. The soil should have a pH range of 5.5 to 7.5 and should be well-drained and fertile. With proper care and attention, pyrethrum can be a profitable crop for farmers in Kenya.
Pyrethrum Varieties Grown in Kenya
Pyrethrum farming in Kenya is a significant economic activity, with farmers growing different varieties of pyrethrum plants. The following are some of the pyrethrum varieties grown in Kenya:
- Kenya White: This is the most common variety of pyrethrum grown in Kenya. It has white flowers and is known for its high pyrethrins content.
- Kenya Power: This variety has a higher pyrethrins content compared to Kenya White. It has pink flowers and is resistant to diseases.
- Kenya Violet: This variety has violet flowers and is known for its high yield. It is also resistant to diseases.
- Kenya Red: This variety has red flowers and is known for its high pyrethrins content. It is also resistant to diseases.
Pyrethrum farmers in Kenya choose the variety to plant depending on various factors such as soil type, altitude, and climatic conditions. They also consider the market demand for the different varieties.
It is worth noting that pyrethrum farming in Kenya is highly regulated, and farmers are required to plant certified pyrethrum seeds. The Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) is responsible for the production and distribution of certified pyrethrum seeds to farmers.
In conclusion, pyrethrum farming in Kenya is a crucial economic activity, with farmers growing different varieties of pyrethrum plants. The choice of variety to plant depends on various factors, and farmers are required to plant certified pyrethrum seeds.
Pyrethrum Farming Practices
Pyrethrum farming is a lucrative venture in Kenya, and farmers must follow specific practices to ensure high yields and quality of the produce. Here are some of the best practices that farmers can implement:
- Site Selection: Pyrethrum thrives in cool, moist, and well-drained soils. Farmers should select a site that has a pH of 5.5 to 6.5 and receives adequate rainfall. The site should also have good drainage to prevent waterlogging.
- Land Preparation: Farmers should prepare the land by plowing and harrowing to break up the soil and remove weeds. The soil should be well-prepared and free from clods to facilitate planting.
- Planting: Pyrethrum is propagated through seeds or cuttings. Farmers should plant the seeds or cuttings at a depth of 1 to 2 cm and space them at 60 cm by 60 cm. The plants should be planted in rows to facilitate intercropping and weed control.
- Fertilization: Pyrethrum requires adequate nutrients to grow and produce high yields. Farmers should apply organic manure or inorganic fertilizers to the soil before planting. They should also apply topdressing fertilizers at specific intervals during the growing season.
- Irrigation: Pyrethrum requires regular watering to grow and produce high yields. Farmers should ensure that the plants receive adequate water, especially during the dry season. They can use drip irrigation or sprinklers to water the plants.
- Pest and Disease Control: Pyrethrum is susceptible to pests and diseases, which can reduce yields and quality of the produce. Farmers should implement integrated pest management practices to control pests and diseases. They can use biological, cultural, and chemical control methods to manage pests and diseases.
By following these practices, farmers can produce high-quality pyrethrum and earn good returns from their farming ventures.
Pest and Disease Management in Pyrethrum Farming
Pyrethrum is a hardy plant that can withstand a variety of pests and diseases. However, it is still important to take preventative measures to ensure a healthy crop.
Some common pests that can affect pyrethrum plants include:
- Spider mites
To manage these pests, farmers can use a variety of methods:
- Biological control: introducing natural predators of the pests to the field
- Chemical control: using pesticides approved for use on pyrethrum plants
- Cultural control: rotating crops, removing weeds, and maintaining healthy soil
Pyrethrum plants can also be susceptible to a variety of diseases, including:
- Root rot
- Leaf spot
- Stem canker
To manage these diseases, farmers can take the following steps:
- Plant disease-resistant pyrethrum varieties
- Practice crop rotation
- Remove and dispose of infected plants
- Use fungicides approved for use on pyrethrum plants
Overall, preventing pests and diseases is key to a successful pyrethrum crop. By taking preventative measures and responding quickly to any issues that arise, farmers can ensure a healthy and productive harvest.
Harvesting and Processing of Pyrethrum Flowers
Pyrethrum flowers are harvested when they are in full bloom, usually after 4-6 months of planting. The flowers are picked by hand, taking care not to damage the delicate petals. It is important to harvest the flowers at the right time to ensure maximum yield and quality.
Once the flowers are harvested, they are taken to the processing plant for drying. The flowers are dried in a well-ventilated area to prevent mold and mildew. The drying process can take up to two weeks, depending on the weather conditions.
After the flowers are dried, they are processed to extract the pyrethrin. The flowers are ground into a fine powder, which is then mixed with a solvent to extract the pyrethrin. The mixture is then filtered to remove any impurities and the solvent is evaporated to leave behind a concentrated pyrethrin extract.
The pyrethrin extract is then further processed to produce pyrethrum concentrate, which is used in the production of insecticides. The concentrate is mixed with other ingredients to produce different types of insecticides for various applications.
Pyrethrum farming in Kenya has been a major source of income for many small-scale farmers. The government has been promoting the cultivation of pyrethrum as a cash crop, and has set up pyrethrum processing plants to help farmers get the most out of their harvest.
In conclusion, harvesting and processing pyrethrum flowers is a delicate process that requires careful attention to detail. It is important to harvest the flowers at the right time and to dry them properly to ensure maximum yield and quality. The pyrethrin extract is then further processed to produce pyrethrum concentrate, which is used in the production of insecticides.
Marketing of Pyrethrum in Kenya
Pyrethrum is a major cash crop in Kenya, and its production is mainly for export. The Kenyan government has put in place measures to ensure that pyrethrum farmers get the best prices for their produce.
One of the main marketing channels for pyrethrum is the Pyrethrum Board of Kenya (PBK), which is a government agency that regulates the pyrethrum industry in the country. The PBK provides extension services to farmers and also buys pyrethrum directly from farmers at competitive prices.
Another marketing channel for pyrethrum is through private companies that buy pyrethrum from farmers and process it into pyrethrin extract. These companies also provide extension services to farmers and buy pyrethrum at competitive prices.
Pyrethrum is exported to various countries, including the United States, Japan, and Europe. The demand for pyrethrum is high due to its use as a natural insecticide in the production of household and agricultural products.
The Kenyan government has also put in place measures to ensure that pyrethrum farmers adhere to good agricultural practices to produce high-quality pyrethrum. This has led to increased demand for Kenyan pyrethrum in the international market.
Overall, the marketing of pyrethrum in Kenya is well-organized, with various channels available for farmers to sell their produce. The government has also put in place measures to ensure that farmers get competitive prices for their pyrethrum, which has led to increased production and export of the crop.
Challenges Facing Pyrethrum Farming in Kenya
Pyrethrum farming in Kenya has faced numerous challenges over the years, leading to a decline in production. Some of the major challenges include:
- Disease and pest infestations: Pyrethrum is susceptible to various diseases and pests such as powdery mildew, root rot, and spider mites. These infestations can cause significant damage to the crop and reduce the yield.
- Climate change: Changes in weather patterns, including prolonged droughts and heavy rainfall, have affected pyrethrum farming in Kenya. The crop requires a specific climate to grow and produce high yields.
- Lack of modern farming techniques: Many pyrethrum farmers in Kenya still use traditional farming methods, which are not efficient and may lead to low yields. The lack of access to modern farming equipment and technology also contributes to this problem.
- Low prices: Pyrethrum prices have been unstable over the years, with farmers receiving low prices for their produce. This has discouraged many farmers from investing in pyrethrum farming.
- Competition from other crops: Other crops such as tea, coffee, and horticulture have gained popularity among Kenyan farmers, leading to a decline in pyrethrum farming.
Despite these challenges, there is hope for the future of pyrethrum farming in Kenya. The government and other stakeholders have taken measures to address some of these challenges, including providing farmers with modern farming techniques and equipment, improving access to credit facilities, and promoting the crop in international markets.
Future of Pyrethrum Farming in Kenya
Pyrethrum farming has a promising future in Kenya, with the government and various stakeholders taking steps to revive the industry. The following are some of the initiatives that are likely to impact the future of pyrethrum farming in Kenya:
- Increased funding: The government has allocated more funds towards the revitalization of the pyrethrum industry, which will go a long way in supporting farmers and boosting production.
- Research and development: There is ongoing research on ways to improve pyrethrum production, including developing new varieties that are more resistant to pests and diseases.
- Marketing: The government is working on creating a robust marketing strategy for pyrethrum products, which will help increase demand and improve prices for farmers.
- Training and extension services: Farmers are receiving training on best practices in pyrethrum farming, including soil management, pest control, and post-harvest handling. Extension services are also being provided to ensure that farmers have access to the latest information and technologies.
Overall, the future of pyrethrum farming in Kenya looks bright, with the government and other stakeholders committed to supporting farmers and improving production. With the right policies and investments, pyrethrum could once again become a major contributor to Kenya’s economy.
Sources: Wandahwa, P., Eric Van Ranst, and Peter Van Damme. “Pyrethrum (Chrysanthemum cinerariaefolium Vis.) cultivation in West Kenya: origin, ecological conditions and management.” Industrial Crops and Products 5.4 (1996): 307-322. Links: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0926669096000325
Wandahwa, P., and Eric Van Ranst. “Qualitative land suitability assessment for pyrethrum cultivation in west Kenya based upon computer-captured expert knowledge and GIS.” Agriculture, ecosystems & environment 56.3 (1996): 187-202. Links: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0167880995006419