The national government has promised to work with counties to increase the land under pyrethrum production from the current 6,000 hectares to and 8,000 hectares in the next one year as it seeks new markets abroad.
The national pyrethrum production dropped from 18,000 metric tons in the early 1990s to the current 500 metric tons.
Experts say Kenya has the potential to produce and process 20,000 metric tons of pyrethrum flowers to earn farmers Sh7.5 billion per year.
Pyrethrum is grown in Nakuru, Kiambu, Nyandarua, Laikipia, Meru, Embu, Baringo, Elgeyo Marakwet, West Pokot, Trans Nzoia, Bungom, Uasin Gishu, Nandi, Kericho, Bomet, Narok, Nyamira and Kisii counties.
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjiri said the national government will offer grants and increase budgetary allocations progressively to revive the multi-billion sector.
“We are also exploring markets for our farmers in China and Britain. It’s now upon the farmers to increase production,” the CS said while on a tour of Eburru in Gilgil, Nakuru.
Principal Secretary State Department of Agricultural Research Professor Hamadi Boga said the government has prioritized on the pyrethrum revival in the agriculture pillar of the Big 4 Agenda. He said the government will devise and enforce necessary laws as well as set targets to achieve the production goal.
The Pyrethrum Growers Association national chairman Mr Justus Monda said the diminishing farm sizes and competition by other cash crops were a threat to the revival agenda.
“We need materials that are high yielding and with high pyrethrin content to fetch better prices,” he noted.
He added that the government should come up with a national pyrethrum strategy in line with the National Agriculture Investment Plan to trigger funds allocation from the treasury.
At the same time, he noted, the government should come up with a strategy to see a sustained production to compel the western world to do away with synthetic insecticides.
“By 2022, we need to have reached the 7, 000 metric tons target for the European market alone. They also use other technologies to control pests and thus, we must be effective in our approach,” he noted.
Among the 18 pyrethrum growing counties, Nakuru and West Pokot are leading the pack.
According to Mr Monda, pyrethrum revival in Nyandarua is facing stiff competition from well-established horticultural cash crops such as peas, cut flowers and potatoes.
In Nakuru, the crop is grown in Bahati, Subukia, Njoro, Kuresoi North, Kuresoi South, Gilgil, Naivasha and Molo sub-Counties. In the 2017/18 financial year, the County Government of Nakuru and other stakeholders distributed 14.76 million planting materials to 3,002 farmers covering 802.5 acres under the crop.
About 58.6 metric tons of dried up flowers were sold where farmers across the 8 sub-counties took home cumulatively Sh24.863 million.
The key stakeholders are Kentegra, Africhem Botanicals, Highchem and the Pyrethrum Processing Company of Kenya.
In the 2018/19 financial year, Nakuru County set Sh35 million for procuring pyrethrum seedlings and other panting materials. According to Governor Lee Kinyanjui, the County has formed a pyrethrum caucus platform to deliberate on issues affecting the value chain.
The caucus is composed of all value chain actors; commercial nursery operators, regulators, processors and the County Assembly of Nakuru.
“We hold quarterly meetings with the stakeholders to get feedback, assess progress, address emerging issues and chart the way forward,” Governor Lee stated.
In West Pokot, the local government has in the last one year distributed 500, 000 splits to farmers in pyrethrum growing zones Tapach and Lelan Wards. West Pokot CEC for Agriculture, Irrigation and Pastoral Economy Mr Joel Ng’asia says in the 2018/19 financial year, the county government set up pyrethrum nurseries to ensure the sustainability of the project.
Already, 1, 64 acres of land is under pyrethrum. The one-acre each nursery are situated at Ptop, Nyarkulian and Sondany. A fourth at Kabichbich was established by Pyrethrum Processing Company of Kenya.
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