Young people are challenged to adopt smart farming – Kenya News Agency
Young people from Arid and Semi-Arid Zones (ASAL) were challenged to get into farming using climate-smart agriculture aimed at creating job opportunities.
Ms Julie Nyambura, a geranium grower in Laikipia County, speaking to Kenya News Agency at her farm in Mukogondo East, Laikipia North sub-county, said youngsters should not focus on finding white-collar jobs which are limited, but rather practice farming using modern technologies, which help farmers achieve maximum yields.
Geranium is a perennial shrub, due to its fragrant nature, is used for making essential oils (external body oils) and other beauty products.
“The jobs are there but no workers, when young people engage in farming using climate-smart agriculture, they will get a lot of money,” the 28-year-old farmer said, adding that there is a strong market demand for geranium products.
Ms. Nyambura, who has been growing geraniums for several months, said it is a venture she cannot regret because of the good yields. She revealed that the geranium plant is drought resistant and their area is inhabited by wild animals, geranium was ideal as it keeps wild animals away due to its repellent scent.
Ms. Nyambura noted that she is the president of the Kapron Women Self-Help Group (SHG), which has 17 geranium growers, adding, “I coordinate with other growers and whenever they need seedlings, I put them in touch with the sellers. Geranium is very profitable, a kilogram of geranium retails at 12.5 shillings,” she revealed.
According to Nyambura, geranium matures after seven months and being a perennial crop, it can be harvested quarterly for up to five years.
Nyambura, who worked closely with the Women UN project on economic empowerment through climate-smart agriculture (CSA) in arid and semi-arid areas, revealed that they were trained on how to successfully use CSA technology in the region, reaping good returns. of the geranium harvest.
In addition, she said, the non-governmental organization trained women in climate change adaptation, rangeland rehabilitation and management, soil and water management, among others. , noting that her first harvest was in February this year, where she pocketed 33,000 shillings. quarter acre. She expects to sell her next production in June and September respectively.
The farmer said that all members of her Kapron group have a ready market as they have an existing contract with Fair Oils Company Ltd, located in Nanyuki and expressed her optimism that in the future she will lease huge land plots for planting geranium and other perennial crops, which require less capital, are pest resistant and easy to manage.
Fair Oils Ltd director David Kariuki, which has partnered with Kapron Women SHG to grow and market geraniums, said there were only 2,500 farmers in the area.
“This crop requires little labor to grow and the reason we introduced it is that there have been instances of crop failure due to unreliable rainfall,” Kairuki said, adding that they introduced the geranium for the first time to farmers in 2017 and the growth has been gradual.
Kariuki noted that it is also a form of diversification for farmers to generate more income, noting that farmers only hire labor since the company provides transport and supplies. sowing at a subsidized rate, with farmers paying the same after each harvest.
The director who doubles as an agronomist reveals that an acre can produce between eight and 10 tons per harvest adding that the geranium is organic and does not require fertilizer to stimulate growth or pesticides.
He revealed that he cut brokers, they have a permanent contract with farmers to pay them via mobile banking after each harvest, explaining that they process geranium for the export market.
The Fair Trade Oils manager said he has partnered with the government to advocate for environmental conservation through tree planting and water conservation exercises in dry areas , claiming that the geranium has not spread widely. He said currently it is only grown on the leeward side of Mount Kenya including Chaka and Timau in .Nyeri and Meru counties respectively.
He said they have also introduced other perennial crops including tea trees, rosemary and Kenya cypress as a form of crop diversification.
By Muturi Mwangi