Arrowroot (Maranta arundinacea) locally known as “Nduma” is a starchy root crop native to South America and has been widely cultivated in Africa for centuries. In Kenya, arrowroot farming is a sustainable and profitable farming venture that offers numerous benefits to both small-scale and large-scale farmers.

Suitability of Arrowroot Farming in Kenya

Soil Type

Arrowroot requires well-draining soils with high organic matter content and a pH range of 5.5-6.8 for optimal growth and yields. Sandy loam and loamy soils are ideal for arrowroot farming, but the crop can also be grown in clay soils with good drainage. The soil should be well-aerated to allow the roots to grow freely and to prevent the development of root rot. Farmers should avoid poorly drained soils as they can lead to low yields, root rot, and other diseases.

Temperature and Humidity

Arrowroot thrives in warm and humid environments, with temperatures ranging from 18-27ยฐC. The crop can tolerate temperatures as high as 35ยฐC but may suffer reduced yields and stunted growth. Temperature fluctuations can also affect the growth and development of the crop, with extreme temperatures leading to wilting and poor yields. Humidity is also crucial for arrowroot farming since the crop requires high levels of moisture to grow and develop well. The ideal humidity range for arrowroot is 75-95%, and farmers in areas with low rainfall should invest in irrigation systems.

Rainfall

Arrowroot requires high levels of moisture for good growth and yields, and the crop performs well in areas with an average annual rainfall of 1500-2500 mm. However, the crop can also be grown in areas with lower rainfall levels by irrigating the crops. Farmers should also ensure the soil is well-drained to prevent waterlogging that can cause root rot and other diseases. In addition, water conservation techniques such as mulching and contour farming where possible can help to conserve water and maintain soil moisture levels.

Altitude

Arrowroot can be grown in different altitudes ranging from sea level to 2100 meters above sea level. However, the crop performs best in lowland areas as high altitudes may lead to reduced yields and stunted growth. Arrowroot farmers in highland areas should focus on growing early-maturing arrowroot varieties that can perform well in their regions.

Varieties Of Arrowroots In Kenya

There are several arrowroot varieties cultivated in Kenya, each with unique characteristics that make them suitable for different regions and purposes. Some of the popular arrowroot varieties in Kenya include:

1. White Eddo: This variety produces white arrowroot roots with a smooth texture and is suitable for cultivation in highland regions. The variety is resistant to pests and diseases and has good yields.

2. Red Eddo: This variety produces reddish arrowroot roots and is propagated through suckers or stem cuttings. The variety is resistant to pests and diseases and performs well in highland regions with a higher altitude.

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3. Silver Arrowroot: This variety produces silver-grey arrowroot roots and is propagated through rhizomes. The variety is resistant to pests and diseases and performs well in lowland regions with high rainfall.

4. Green Arrowroot: This variety produces green arrowroot roots and is propagated through rhizomes. The variety is resistant to pests and diseases and performs well in highland regions with good soil and high rainfall.

5. Purple Arrowroot: This variety produces purple arrowroot roots and is propagated through stem cuttings or rhizomes. The variety is resistant to pests and diseases and performs well in lowland regions with adequate rainfall.

6. Local Varieties (Kienyeji): There are several local arrowroot varieties that farmers cultivate in different regions based on their preferences and availability.

Arrowroot Production Per Acre

Arrowroot production per acre in Kenya depends on several factors, including the variety grown, soil fertility, climate conditions, and management practices. On the below table, we have highlighted an estimate on production:-

VarietyColorProduction per acre (tonnes)
EddoeWhite2-3
DasheenWhite3-4
HybridWhite4-5
SilverSilver3-4
GreenGreen2-3
PurplePurple2-3

It is important to note that these are just averages, and production can vary depending a number of factors, including the variety of arrowroot, the soil quality, the amount of rainfall, and the level of care taken in cultivation.

The costs involved in growing arrowroot in Kenya vary depending on a number of factors, including the size of the farm, the variety of arrowroot being grown, and the level of care taken in cultivation. However, some of the most common estimate costs include:

  • Land preparation: This can cost anywhere from Ksh 10,000 to Ksh 20,000 per acre.
  • Seed: The cost of seed varies depending on the variety of arrowroot being grown, but it typically costs around Ksh 5,000 per acre.
  • Fertilizer: Fertilizer is not always necessary, but it can help to improve yields. The cost of fertilizer varies depending on the type of fertilizer being used, but it typically costs around Ksh 4,500 per acre.
  • Pesticides: Pesticides are not always necessary, but they can help to protect the crop from pests and diseases. The cost of pesticides varies depending on the type of pesticide being used, but it typically costs around Ksh 2,000 per acre.
  • Labor: The cost of labor varies depending on the region of Kenya, but it typically costs around Ksh 10,000 per acre per year.
  • Irrigation: Irrigation is not always necessary, but it can help to improve yields in areas with low rainfall. The cost of irrigation varies depending on the type of irrigation system being used, but it typically costs around Ksh 10,000 per acre.
  • Harvesting: The cost of harvesting varies depending on the size of the farm, but it typically costs around Ksh 10,000 per acre.
  • Transport: The cost of transport varies depending on the distance the crop needs to be transported, but it typically costs around Ksh 2,000 per acre.
  • Marketing: The cost of marketing varies depending on the method of marketing being used, but it typically costs around Ksh 1,000 per acre.
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The total cost of growing arrowroot in Kenya can vary significantly, but it typically ranges from Ksh 40,000 to Ksh 70,000 per acre. However, with proper planning and management, it is possible to grow arrowroot profitably in Kenya.

Common FAQs On Arrowroot Farming In Kenya

1. What is the best time to plant arrowroot in Kenya?
– Arrowroot is best planted in Kenya during the long rains season between March and May or during the short rains season between August and September.

2. How is arrowroot planted in Kenya?
– The arrowroot is planted by using the rhizomes from mature plants. The rhizomes are planted in holes around 15 cm deep and 45 cm apart.

3. How long does it take for arrowroot to mature in Kenya?
– Arrowroot usually matures within 8-10 months in Kenya.

4. How is arrowroot harvested in Kenya?
– Arrowroot is usually harvested by digging the rhizomes out of the ground using a fork or a digger tool.

5. What are some of the diseases that affect arrowroot farming in Kenya?
– Some of the diseases that affect arrowroot farming in Kenya include bacterial diseases, fungal diseases and viral diseases.

6. What are some of the benefits of arrowroot farming in Kenya?
– Arrowroot is a high-value crop that can generate income for farmers. It is also a good source of food and has medicinal properties. Additionally, arrowroot farming can help in soil conservation and prevent soil erosion.

7. What are the suitable soil conditions for arrowroot farming in Kenya?
– Arrowroot thrives in well-draining soils that are rich in organic matter and have a pH between 5.5 to 7.5.

8. How is arrowroot propagated in Kenya?
– Arrowroot is propagated by stem cuttings or rhizomes in Kenya.

9. What is the spacing requirement for arrowroot farming in Kenya?
– Arrowroots require a spacing of around 45-60cm for them to grow healthily.

10. What are some of the common pests affecting arrowroot farming in Kenya?
– Some of the common pests affecting arrowroot farming in Kenya include mealybugs, scale insects, arrowroot mites, and leaf borers.

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11. How is arrowroot consumed in Kenya?
– Arrowroot can be eaten boiled, roasted, fried or baked. It is also used to make flour, porridge, and puddings.

12. What is the market potential for arrowroot in Kenya?
– Arrowroot has a high market potential in Kenya due to its high demand for food, industrial products, and in the pharmaceutical industry.

13. What are some of the challenges facing arrowroot farming in Kenya?
– Some of the challenges facing arrowroot farming in Kenya are inadequate access to capital, inadequate knowledge on proper management practices, and insufficient access to markets.

14. How can farmers in Kenya control weeds in arrowroot farming?
– Farmers can control weeds in arrowroot farming in Kenya by hand weeding, mulching, or using herbicides.

15. What is the yield potential for arrowroot farming in Kenya?
– Yield potential for arrowroot farming in Kenya ranges between 20-40 tonnes per hectare.

16. What are some of the nutritional benefits of arrowroot in Kenya?
– Arrowroot in Kenya is high in fiber and low in calories. It is also rich in minerals such as potassium, iron, and calcium.

17. What is the water requirement for arrowroot farming in Kenya?
– Arrowroot requires adequate moisture for growth and development. In Kenya, farmers should ensure that they provide 600-700mm of rainfall annually or supplement the crop with irrigation.

18. How is arrowroot processed into flour in Kenya?
– Arrowroot is washed, peeled, grated, and dried. The dried product is then milled into flour.

19. What are some of the uses of arrowroot starch in Kenya?
– Arrowroot starch is used as a thickener in sauces, soup, and gravies. It is also used in the textile industry as a sizing agent and in the paper industry as a binder.

20. What is the recommended pest and disease control methods for arrowroot farming in Kenya?
– Farmers can control pest and diseases in arrowroot farming in Kenya by practicing crop rotation, timely removal of infected plant materials, and regular inspection of the crop. They should also use approved chemicals and natural predators to control the pests.

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