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Groundnut farmer pockets Sh1m every crop season

By LILLIAN KIARIE | Jun 10th 2014 | 3 min read
By LILLIAN KIARIE | June 10th 2014

Siaya, Kenya: The 48-year Timothy Simiyu has been reaping good returns from ground nut farming. The former Primary school teacher started farming Manipinta and Red Valencia groundnuts in his maize farm in Musonga, Siaya County, whilst in search of additional income.

“Unlike maize, I was impressed by groundnuts which took three to four months to mature, and added nitrogen to the soil,” he observes.

Simiyu converted his three hectare piece of land in 2001 to grow groundnuts. He used about Sh48,000 to till the land, buy seedlings and farm till harvest a decision which he says he does not regret. “Its been about 13 years since I started off and I bet on the prices to buy seedlings, pesticides and to till and weed the land has since skyrocketed. I grow the Red Valentia, which is tastier, and Manipita, which is the bigger groundnut variety.

 The latter produces up to 2.2 tonnes per hectare   whilst the Manipita produces up to 2.4 tonnes (2,400kgs) per hectare every season,” he said.  According to a recent monthly survey by the Kenya Agricultural Commodity Exchange, a 100kg bag of Red Oratia groundnuts costs about Sh10,000.

With Kilimo Biashara quoting that groundnut ranges from Sh7,500 to 13,000 per 100kg bag, in Western, Eastern and Coastal areas, Simiyu makes about Sh450,000 per hectare each season from his Red Oratia and Manipitia groundnuts. In a good season, his three hectares can thus bring in about Sh1.35 million.

“After delivering to the market, irrigating, paying the workers and all expenses included I make a profit of about Sh1 million per season. I save part of this amount and use another Sh350,000 to prepare the land and all other expenses for the following season,” he says.

Groundnut farming has also created more jobs for others. Eliakim Otieno, has constructed a groundnut grinding machine that produces groundnut paste that he sells to customers around Kakamega town. Otieno who previously lived in Uganda for eight years gained insight into use and benefits of peanut butterand upon returning to Kenya, he constructed the machine, which earns him big. “The machine cost about Sh55, 000 and is more of a blender constructed with a mortal and a shaft. I usually buy groundnuts from farmers around Kakamega and grind the legumes which are used to make paste, flour, and make sauce among other uses,” he says.

Huge benefit

200 grams of groundnut paste costs Sh50 while a kilo of the paste goes for Sh250 “I usually make the paste by grinding peanuts, adding simsim , salt and a preservative to make it last longer once stored,“ he says.

Otieno had previously tried making peanut butter and says that he opted to stop due to packaging and focus on the paste. “Whilst making peanut butter, one does not add any oil. Groundnuts naturally have oil. The trick is that the more you grind the finer the paste becomes. It produces its own oil and becomes smooth enough to spread on bread,” he says. 

Groundnuts are a rich source of protein and edible oils and add nitrogen into the soil and can be grown in poor soils. They take a shorter time span in the farm and have a huge market in Kenya. Peanuts have a lot of health benefits.

The monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats found in groundnuts keep the heart healthy. They high protein should be regularly incorporated in diet for children, vegetarians and protein deficient people. They also contain high concentrations of the antioxidant polyphenols, that inhibit the growth of free radicals, keeping infection at bay.

Planting season

 In addition they also have high levels of minerals and vitamins. According to a research carried out by Kenya Agricultural Research Institute in Kitale and Kisii, a farmer should get clean healthy seed for planting and prepare the land early before the rains so as to plant at the beginning of the rains. 

“Plant in rows: 1ft (30cm) between the rows and 6 inches (15cm) between plants for the small seeded varieties like Red valencia. ft (45cm) between rows and 8-9 inches (20cm) between plants for larger seeded varieties like Manipint,” it reads.  Dr Joseph Mureithi, who was the project coordinator advises, “It is important that one does not weed or walk through a flowering groundnut field.

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