Almost two decades after farmers replaced a once lucrative cash crop with potatoes, the county has begun reintroducing pyrethrum in the highlands.
In the mid-2000s, pyrethrum prices plummeted, forcing farmers to turn to potato farming for quick cash.
The cash crop whose flowers are used in the production of agrochemicals such as insecticides and pesticides was abandoned due to declining fortunes caused by the loss of key markets.
Potato farming became so profitable that Elgeyo Marakwet became Kenya’s second-largest producer after Nyandarua. Elgeyo Marakwet and Nyandarua account for 29.8 per cent and 16.2 per cent of all potatoes in the county, respectively, but prices have begun to fluctuate in recent years.
Elgeyo Marakwet Governor Wesley Rotich began commercial production of pyrethrum two days ago after reaching an agreement with a buyer. Following a ready market for the cash crop, pyrethrum will be grown alongside other crops such as potatoes, coffee, and maize, among others, according to the county chief.
“I’m glad our farmers are enthusiastic about the cash crop (pyrethrum). This is the game changer that will catapult our country’s economic status.
“The buyer, Kentegra Biotechnology Holdings, is providing farmers with seeds, fertiliser, and technical support,” Governor Rotich said on Thursday, following the start of pyrethrum cultivation in Marakwet East and Keiyo North sub-counties.
He said under the terms of the agreement with the ready buyer, farmers will receive their payments via M-Pesa within five days of delivering their produce.