REASONS why clever farmers will be smiling all the way to the bank after El Nino
While the impending El Nino rains may be not be well received by most, owing to the floods that have been associated with it in the past, farmers can take advantage of the many waters it will bring to make some quick harvests.
The popular perennial crops like maize, beans and millet, will certainly not be the sensible option to go for during the approaching rains, because of their low tolerance to flooding, but there are many high value crops that can bring farmers good tidings when the rains end, in January 2016, while boosting food security in the country.
Farmbiz Africa sought the opinions of experts on the kinds of crops farmers can plant in the four months between October 2015 and January 2016 and we came up with an interesting list.
Sweet Potatoes perform well in cool but frost-free growing seasons of 75 to 135 days. The ideal growing temperature for these tubers is 45°; hot weather reduces the number of tubers per plant. With the El Nino phase predicted to span over 120 days, the crop will be ripe for harvest for farmers who plant it in October. One acre of sweet potatoes can yield upto 10,000 kg of sweet potatoes, if proper husbandry is implemented. With one kilogram of sweet potatoes costing Sh120 in Kenyan supermarkets, a farmer can make up to Sh1m from a sweet potato harvest after the end of the rains.
Another crop that can withstand heavy rains, and strong winds, is the arrow root. The tuber crop requires moisturized soils throughout its growth and can take up to eight months to mature. While other crops can only be harvested once to avoid damage, this crop can be harvested for up to three months. One acre of arrowroot can yield upto six tons of tubers. With the retail price for a kilogram of arrow root in Nairobi being an average of KSh150 and its demand, especially in Nairobi, being at an all-time peak, farmers can easily make revenues of Sh900,000 between from the El Nino.
Although pumpkins seeds require warm soils during planting, they need plenty of water during the growing phase, which typically averages 110 days. One acre of pumpkin can yield 1000 marketable pumpkins, which will earn the farmer Sh350,000 if each is sold at Sh350. Pumpkin leaves are also a popular vegetable in Kenya.
By: Farmbiz Africa