Peas (minji) is a legume mainly grown in Nyandarua and Trans Nzoia counties.
The varieties available locally are sweet, snow and snap peas. Of these, snow pea is the most popular variety grown in Kenya.
Mr Peter Mwangi, a farmer in Kiambu County, says peas are widely consumed in Kenya, especially in the Central region, providing a huge market for farmers.
He does the farming on a small scale but reaps good benefits. He explains what one needs to do to get the best yields.
Well-drained, fertile sandy-loam soil is ideal. However, peas tolerate most soils except impermeable clay. They do well in cool weather, with temperatures of 12-20 degrees Celsius and well-distributed rainfall of 1500mm to 2100mm.
Ensure the field is tilled well and free from weeds. Peas are planted from seeds.
“To improve germination, soak the seeds before planting. Plant one-inch deep and spacing of two inches apart and rows seven inches apart,” advises Mr Mwangi.
Peas can grow from 18-30 inches tall.
Apply fertiliser as advised by an expert. Mr Mwangi says one can use DAP and CAN at the appropriate times to supplement compost manure.
Hand weeding is recommended since the crop has shallow roots, and care must be taken not to injure the roots. Weeds harm the proper growth of peas.
Pests and diseases
The pests to look out for include aphids, thrips, pea weevils and cutworms.
“These can be controlled by using pesticides appropriately as advised by experts,” says Mr Mwangi. The diseases to look out for are damping-off and root rot, downy mildew and powdery mildew.
Peas mature after 60-70 days. They are harvested when pods start to fatten but before peas get too large.
For best flavour, consume peas directly during the maturity period. To harvest, use two hands when you pick peas to avoid damaging the plant. Hold the vine with one hand and pull pods off with the other.
Mature pea plants usually stop producing and die back in hot weather. Dry peas are harvested and can later be used as seeds.
Snow peas are widely consumed locally, providing a ready market for farmers. Mr Mwangi sells his produce at local markets and through referrals. A kilo goes for Sh150.
There is also huge potential for the export market.