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Farmers want free seedlings for best pyrethrum harvest

RIFT VALLEY
By Kennedy Gachuhi | December 1st 2021

A pyrethrum farm in Temoyetta Village, Kuresoi North. November 26, 2021. [Kennedy Gachuhi, Standard]

Pyrethrum farmers in Nakuru County have called on the two levels of government to intensify efforts to resuscitate the sector, as the rainy season starts.

The agricultural sub-sector has been ailing with the county government of Nakuru in conjunction with the Ministry of Agriculture, initiating revival efforts since 2018.

Farmers told The Standard the main challenge they faced was the lack of enough quality seedlings at the planting season.

“In the past, we have been supplied with free seedlings by the government. Some did not survive because they came when we had insufficient rains, discouraging many farmers,” said Alice Njoki.

Ms Njoki, who has an acre under pyrethrum in Temoyetta village, Kuresoi North, said this was the right time for the government to supply them with the seedlings. “The rains have started after a long dry spell. We are confident this will continue until the end of December. It is the right time for them to deliver the free seedlings to boost production,” said Njoki.

Charles Kibet, another farmer, said many were willing to shift to pyrethrum farming, but were apprehensive of using seedlings obtained locally without being certified.

“The free seedlings have not been sufficient. Splits obtained from the existing farms do not guarantee a good harvest, which has left many farmers stuck with other crops,” said Kibet.

He added that pyrethrum buying companies had been specific on pyrethrin content from their produce. “The higher the pyrethrin content, the better the pay. Without quality seedlings, the pyrethrin content is low, a setback for a farmer pegging their economic survival on the crop,” said Kibet.

The farmers said they were shifting to pyrethrum farming following heavy losses incurred, especially in Irish potato farming, which is under legal transformation.

“The new packaging regulations have destabilised Irish potato farming and pricing. Many farmers did not recoup the costs they incurred in production during the year,” said Kibet.

Pyrethrum Growers Association chairperson Justus Monda said this was the best opportunity to revive the sector that many farmers had lost confidence in for two decades. “Nakuru has great potential to be the largest pyrethrum producer in the country. Government should listen to the calls by farmers who know when best to plant,” said Monda.

He said close cooperation between farmers and the government would help place the country back on track as the leading global pyrethrum producer. “Weather patterns and soils have greatly changed since farmers ditched pyrethrum for other crops. Pyrethrum remains the safest pesticide, which guarantees it a market worldwide,” said Monda.

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