Pyrethrum farming is an important agricultural activity in Kenya, with a rich history that dates back to the early 20th century. Pyrethrum is a natural insecticide that is derived from the dried flowers of the pyrethrum plant, also known as Chrysanthemum cinerariaefolium. Kenya is one of the leading producers of pyrethrum in the world, and the crop is a significant contributor to the country’s economy.

pyrethrum farming in kenya
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Pyrethrum farming in Kenya is mainly concentrated in the highlands of the Rift Valley, where the climate and soil conditions are ideal for its cultivation. The main pyrethrum growing regions in Kenya include Nakuru, Nyandarua, Nyeri, Meru, and Kiambu.

One of the reasons why pyrethrum farming has become popular in Kenya is because it is a lucrative cash crop. Farmers can earn a substantial income from selling pyrethrum flowers to processing companies, which extract the insecticide from the flowers and sell it to the global market. The demand for pyrethrum is high, as it is widely used in the production of insecticides for use in agriculture, household pest control, and public health.

Pyrethrum farming in Kenya is heavily regulated by the Pyrethrum Board of Kenya (PBK), a government agency that oversees the production, processing, and marketing of pyrethrum. The PBK provides extension services to farmers, which includes training on good agricultural practices, pest and disease management, and post-harvest handling.

To start pyrethrum farming, a farmer must first acquire certified pyrethrum planting materials from the PBK. The planting materials are usually in the form of root cuttings, which are planted in well-prepared and fertile soils. Pyrethrum requires regular watering, and farmers must ensure that the plants are adequately irrigated during the dry season.

Harvesting of pyrethrum flowers usually starts after six months, and the flowers are harvested manually by plucking them from the plants. The flowers are then dried in the sun or using drying machines, after which they are ready for sale to processing companies.

Pyrethrum farming is an essential agricultural activity in Kenya, with significant economic benefits for farmers and the country at large. The Pyrethrum Board of Kenya has put in place measures to ensure that the production and marketing of pyrethrum are well regulated, and farmers are provided with the necessary support to ensure maximum yields.

Suitable Pyrethrum Growing Regions In Kenya

Pyrethrum is mainly grown in high altitude areas in Kenya due to their cooler climate, well-drained soils, and adequate rainfall. Some of the suitable regions for pyrethrum farming in Kenya include:

  1. Nakuru County: The Mau Forest, which is located in Nakuru County, is one of the largest pyrethrum-growing areas in Kenya. The region has fertile volcanic soils and receives adequate rainfall, making it ideal for pyrethrum farming.
  2. Nyandarua County: The Aberdare Ranges in Nyandarua County are known for their rich soils, which are suitable for pyrethrum farming. The region has a cool climate and receives adequate rainfall, making it ideal for pyrethrum cultivation.
  3. Nyeri County: Nyeri County is another major pyrethrum-growing area in Kenya, with most farmers growing the crop on the slopes of Mt. Kenya. The region has fertile soils and receives adequate rainfall, making it suitable for pyrethrum farming.
  4. Kiambu County: Kiambu County is located on the outskirts of Nairobi and has a high altitude, cool climate, and well-drained soils, making it suitable for pyrethrum farming.
  5. Meru County: Meru County is located in the eastern part of Kenya and has suitable soils and climatic conditions for pyrethrum farming. The region receives adequate rainfall and has well-drained soils, making it ideal for the cultivation of pyrethrum.

The suitable regions for pyrethrum farming in Kenya are those that have a cool climate, well-drained soils, and adequate rainfall. These regions include Nakuru, Nyandarua, Nyeri, Kiambu, and Meru counties.

Varieties Of Pyrethrum Grown In Kenya

In Kenya, there are several varieties of pyrethrum that are grown by farmers. These varieties are known for their high yields, disease resistance, and high-quality flowers. Some of the most common varieties of pyrethrum in Kenya include:

  1. Kenya Pyrethrum 1 (KP1): This is the most common variety of pyrethrum grown in Kenya. It is a high-yielding variety that produces large flowers that are rich in pyrethrins. The flowers are also resistant to pests and diseases, making them ideal for commercial cultivation.
  2. Kenya Pyrethrum 2 (KP2): This variety is also high-yielding and produces flowers that are rich in pyrethrins. The flowers are slightly smaller than those of KP1 but are still of good quality.
  3. Kenya Pyrethrum 3 (KP3): This variety is known for its excellent disease resistance and is ideal for areas where fungal diseases are prevalent. It produces flowers that are slightly smaller than those of KP1 and KP2 but are still of good quality.
  4. Kakamega Pyrethrum: This is a variety that is grown in the western part of Kenya, mainly in Kakamega County. It is known for its high yields and produces flowers that are rich in pyrethrins. The variety is resistant to pests and diseases and can be grown in a wide range of soils.
  5. Kirinyaga Pyrethrum: This is a variety that is grown in the Kirinyaga region of Kenya. It is known for its high yields and produces flowers that are rich in pyrethrins. The variety is resistant to pests and diseases and can be grown in a wide range of soils.
  6. Elgon Pyrethrum: This is a variety that is grown in the Mt. Elgon region of Kenya. It is known for its high yields and produces flowers that are rich in pyrethrins. The variety is resistant to pests and diseases and can be grown in a wide range of soils.

There are several varieties of pyrethrum that are grown in Kenya, each with its unique characteristics. The most common varieties are KP1, KP2, and KP3, which are known for their high yields and good quality flowers. Other varieties such as Kakamega Pyrethrum, Kirinyaga Pyrethrum, and Elgon Pyrethrum are also popular among farmers due to their disease resistance and adaptability to a wide range of soils.

Suitable Conditions For Pyrethrum Farming In Kenya

Pyrethrum requires specific growing conditions to thrive and produce high-quality flowers. The following are the ideal growing conditions for pyrethrum in Kenya:

  1. Climate: Pyrethrum grows best in areas with cool temperatures ranging from 15°C to 25°C. Areas with temperatures above 30°C can negatively affect the growth and yield of the plant. The ideal rainfall range for pyrethrum is 1000mm to 1500mm per year, and it should be well distributed throughout the year. Areas with high rainfall and humidity can lead to fungal diseases, which can affect the quality and yield of the flowers.
  2. Soil: Pyrethrum requires well-drained soils with a pH range of 5.5 to 7.5. The soils should be rich in organic matter and have good water holding capacity. The ideal soil texture for pyrethrum is loamy to sandy loam, which allows for good root development and water drainage.
  3. Altitude: Pyrethrum grows best in high altitude areas above 1,500 meters above sea level. These areas have cooler temperatures, which are ideal for the plant’s growth and development.
  4. Light intensity: Pyrethrum requires a moderate level of light intensity to produce high-quality flowers. Areas with too much shade can negatively affect the plant’s growth and yield.
  5. Pests and Diseases: Pyrethrum is susceptible to pests and diseases, which can negatively affect the yield and quality of the flowers. Common pests include aphids, thrips, and mites, while common diseases include Fusarium wilt, Powdery mildew, and Leaf spot. It is essential to manage pests and diseases effectively to ensure high yields and quality flowers.
  6. Fertilizer: Pyrethrum requires balanced fertilization to produce high-quality flowers. The fertilizer should be rich in nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, with micronutrients such as zinc and boron. Over-fertilization can lead to excessive vegetative growth, which can negatively affect the yield and quality of the flowers.
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Pyrethrum requires specific growing conditions, including cool temperatures, well-drained soils, high altitude, moderate light intensity, and effective management of pests and diseases. Balancing fertilizer application is also crucial to ensuring high yields and quality flowers.

Step By Step Pyrethrum Planting Guide

Propagation:

  1. Collect seeds from mature pyrethrum plants that have been grown for at least two years.
  2. Clean and dry the seeds in a cool, dry place for several days to remove any moisture.
  3. Store the seeds in airtight containers until planting time.

Planting:

  1. Choose a site that receives full sunlight and has well-drained soil with a pH of 5.5 to 6.5.
  2. Prepare the soil by removing any weeds, rocks, or debris and tilling the soil to a depth of at least 6 inches.
  3. Dig rows that are 3 feet apart and make shallow furrows that are about 1 inch deep.
  4. Sow the seeds thinly along the furrows, spacing them about 2 inches apart.
  5. Cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil, and gently tamp down the soil to ensure good seed-to-soil contact.
  6. Water the newly planted seeds lightly, taking care not to wash them away.
  7. Mulch the rows with grass, straw or other organic material to retain moisture and suppress weeds.
  8. Water the pyrethrum regularly, keeping the soil moist but not waterlogged.

Maintenance:

  1. Fertilize the plants with a balanced fertilizer (e.g., 10-10-10) at the rate of 2-3 pounds per 100 square feet, two weeks after planting, and then every 4-6 weeks thereafter.
  2. Keep the plants free of weeds by hand weeding or hoeing between the rows.
  3. Protect the plants from pests and diseases by monitoring them regularly and applying appropriate treatments if necessary.
  4. Harvest the pyrethrum flowers when they are fully open and before they start to fade. Cut the flowers off just below the flower head and dry them in the shade.
  5. Store the dried flowers in a cool, dry place until they are ready to be processed into pyrethrin extract.

Cost Of Pyrethrum Production Per Acre

The cost of pyrethrum production in Kenya can vary depending on several factors, including the size of the farm, the variety of pyrethrum grown, the cost of inputs, and labor costs. The following are some of the major costs associated with pyrethrum production in Kenya:

  1. Land preparation: This involves clearing the land, plowing, harrowing, and preparing the seedbed. The cost of land preparation can vary depending on the size of the farm, the type of machinery used, and the cost of labor.
  2. Seedlings and planting: Pyrethrum seedlings are usually propagated in nurseries before being transplanted into the main field. The cost of seedlings can vary depending on the variety of pyrethrum grown and the size of the farm.
  3. Fertilizer and other inputs: Pyrethrum requires balanced fertilization to produce high-quality flowers. The cost of fertilizers, pesticides, and other inputs can vary depending on the type and quantity used.
  4. Labor: Labor costs can vary depending on the size of the farm, the labor laws in the region, and the cost of living. Pyrethrum requires frequent weeding, pruning, and harvesting, which can increase labor costs.
  5. Processing and packaging: Once the flowers are harvested, they need to be processed and packaged for sale. The cost of processing and packaging can vary depending on the equipment used and the cost of labor.
  6. Transportation: The cost of transporting the flowers from the farm to the market can vary depending on the distance, mode of transportation, and the cost of fuel.

In general, the cost of pyrethrum production in Kenya can range from Kshs 150,000 to Kshs 400,000 per acre per year. This includes the cost of inputs, labor, and other expenses. However, the returns on pyrethrum production can be high, with some farmers earning up to Kshs 700,000 per acre per year. The profitability of pyrethrum production in Kenya depends on several factors, including the quality of the flowers, the market demand, and the cost of inputs.

Pyrethrum Population And Spacing Per Acre

The population and spacing of pyrethrum plants per acre in Kenya depend on several factors, including the variety of pyrethrum grown, the soil type, and the climatic conditions. However, the standard planting density is between 70,000 and 80,000 plants per acre. The recommended spacing for pyrethrum plants is 60cm by 60cm, which translates to approximately 2,700 plants per acre.

The planting density and spacing of pyrethrum plants are crucial in determining the yield and quality of the flowers. Proper spacing allows for good air circulation, which reduces the incidence of diseases and pests. It also ensures that the plants have enough space to grow and develop healthy roots, which are essential for nutrient uptake and water absorption.

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It is essential to ensure that the plants are evenly spaced to avoid overcrowding or underutilization of the land. Overcrowding can lead to competition for resources, stunted growth, and reduced yields, while underutilization can result in low yields and wasted land.

To achieve optimal plant population and spacing, it is recommended to prepare the land well, plant the seedlings at the right depth, and ensure that they are properly watered and fertilized. Regular weeding and pruning are also essential to maintain proper spacing and allow for adequate light penetration.

The recommended pyrethrum population and spacing per acre in Kenya are between 70,000 and 80,000 plants and 60cm by 60cm, respectively. Proper plant population and spacing are crucial for achieving high yields and quality flowers.

Profitability Of Pyrethrum In Kenya

Pyrethrum farming in Kenya can be a profitable venture if managed properly. The profitability of pyrethrum farming depends on various factors such as the market demand, quality of the flowers, cost of inputs, and management practices. Here are some factors that affect the profitability of pyrethrum farming in Kenya:

  1. Market demand: The demand for pyrethrum products such as insecticides and pesticides determines the profitability of the crop. High demand leads to higher prices and increased profitability. The demand for pyrethrum products has been increasing globally due to its effectiveness and low toxicity compared to synthetic chemicals.
  2. Quality of flowers: The quality of pyrethrum flowers significantly affects the price and profitability of the crop. High-quality flowers fetch a higher price and are in high demand. Proper crop management practices such as balanced fertilization, pest, and disease control, and timely harvesting and drying can improve the quality of the flowers.
  3. Cost of inputs: The cost of inputs such as fertilizers, pesticides, labor, and other expenses affects the profitability of pyrethrum farming. Proper management practices such as integrated pest management, efficient use of fertilizers, and labor management can reduce the cost of inputs, thus increasing profitability.
  4. Management practices: Effective crop management practices such as timely weeding, pruning, and harvesting can significantly improve yields and profitability. Efficient use of resources such as water, labor, and fertilizers can also increase profitability.

In general, the profitability of pyrethrum farming in Kenya varies depending on the above factors. However, with good management practices and favorable market conditions, farmers can earn a good income from pyrethrum farming. According to the Pyrethrum Processing Company of Kenya (PPCK), a farmer can earn up to Ksh 700,000 per acre per year from pyrethrum farming.

Pyrethrum farming in Kenya can be a profitable venture if managed properly. The profitability of the crop depends on market demand, quality of flowers, cost of inputs, and management practices. To maximize profitability, farmers should adopt good crop management practices, minimize input costs, and target high-value markets.

Spray and Fertilizer Program On Fertilizer Farming In Kenya

The success of pyrethrum farming in Kenya heavily depends on a well-designed spray and fertilizer program. Here is a detailed guide on the recommended spray and fertilizer program for pyrethrum farming in Kenya:

Spray Program:

  1. Pre-planting: Before planting pyrethrum, it is essential to prepare the land by clearing and tilling it. Once the land is ready, it is recommended to spray it with a non-selective herbicide to control weeds.
  2. Post-planting: After planting, it is essential to control pests and diseases by spraying the crop regularly with pesticides. The first spray should be done two weeks after planting to control cutworms and thrips. Subsequent sprays should be done every two weeks to control mites, aphids, and other pests. The type of pesticide used should be alternated to prevent pest resistance.
  3. Flowering: During the flowering stage, it is recommended to spray the crop with a pesticide that controls flower-eating pests such as beetles and caterpillars. The spray should be done every two weeks until harvesting.

Fertilizer Program:

  1. Pre-planting: Before planting pyrethrum, it is recommended to apply a basal fertilizer such as DAP (diammonium phosphate) at a rate of 150kg per acre. This will provide the crop with the necessary nutrients to establish healthy roots and grow well.
  2. Post-planting: After planting, it is recommended to apply a top-dressing fertilizer such as CAN (calcium ammonium nitrate) at a rate of 75kg per acre. The top-dressing should be done three times during the crop’s growth cycle, at three, six, and nine months after planting. This will provide the crop with the necessary nutrients to grow and develop high-quality flowers.
  3. Flowering: During the flowering stage, it is recommended to apply a foliar fertilizer such as NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) at a rate of 1kg per acre. The foliar fertilizer should be applied every two weeks to enhance flower growth and quality.

A well-designed spray and fertilizer program is essential for the success of pyrethrum farming in Kenya. The spray program should focus on controlling pests and diseases, while the fertilizer program should provide the crop with the necessary nutrients to grow and produce high-quality flowers. It is essential to follow the recommended rates and timings of application for both the spray and fertilizer program to maximize yields and profitability.

Uses Of Pyrethrum

Pyrethrum has numerous uses and is a valuable commodity in the agriculture and healthcare industries. Here are some of the main uses of pyrethrum:

  1. Insecticide: Pyrethrum is used to make natural insecticides and pesticides. The active ingredients in pyrethrum, called pyrethrins, are highly effective in killing a wide range of insects, including mosquitoes, cockroaches, flies, and bedbugs. Pyrethrum-based insecticides are safe to use and have a low environmental impact.
  2. Animal health: Pyrethrum is used in animal health products to control external parasites such as ticks and fleas. Pyrethrum-based products are safe to use on animals and have a low toxicity.
  3. Medical uses: Pyrethrum has been used in traditional medicine to treat various ailments such as fever, headaches, and muscle pain. Pyrethrum is also used in modern medicine to treat lice infestations and scabies.
  4. Industrial uses: Pyrethrum is used in the production of smoke coils, which are used to repel mosquitoes and other insects. Pyrethrum is also used in the production of household sprays and other consumer products.
  5. Horticulture: Pyrethrum is used in horticulture to control pests and diseases in plants. Pyrethrum-based products are safe to use on plants and have a low environmental impact.
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Pyrethrum has numerous uses and is a valuable commodity in the agriculture and healthcare industries. The active ingredients in pyrethrum, called pyrethrins, are highly effective in controlling pests and diseases while being safe for humans, animals, and the environment. Pyrethrum-based products are widely used in the production of natural insecticides, animal health products, medical treatments, and consumer products.

Market For Pyrethrum In Kenya

Pyrethrum is an important agricultural crop in Kenya and is mainly grown for export. Here is a detailed guide on the market for pyrethrum in Kenya:

  1. Export Market: Kenya is one of the largest producers of pyrethrum in the world, and the majority of the crop is exported to various countries. The main export destinations for Kenyan pyrethrum are Europe, Japan, and the United States. The export market for pyrethrum in Kenya is highly regulated, and the pyrethrum must meet strict quality standards before it can be exported.
  2. Domestic Market: Pyrethrum is also used in the local market in Kenya. The crop is mainly used to make insecticides and pesticides for use in the agricultural sector. The demand for pyrethrum-based products is increasing in Kenya due to the growing awareness of the benefits of natural and environmentally friendly products.
  3. Price: The price of pyrethrum in Kenya is determined by various factors such as global demand, quality, and supply. The price of pyrethrum has been fluctuating over the years, and it is affected by various factors such as weather conditions, pests and diseases, and changes in global demand.
  4. Government Support: The Kenyan government has been supporting pyrethrum farming through various initiatives such as providing subsidized fertilizers and pesticides, offering extension services to farmers, and promoting the crop in international markets. The government’s support has helped to boost the production and export of pyrethrum in Kenya.

The market for pyrethrum in Kenya is mainly export-oriented, with Europe, Japan, and the United States being the main export destinations. Pyrethrum is also used in the local market to make insecticides and pesticides for use in the agricultural sector. The price of pyrethrum is affected by various factors such as global demand, quality, and supply. The Kenyan government has been supporting pyrethrum farming through various initiatives to boost production and export.

Frequently Asked Questions On Pyrethrum Farming In Kenya

  1. What is pyrethrum farming? Pyrethrum farming is the cultivation of the pyrethrum plant for the production of pyrethrins, which are used to make natural insecticides and pesticides.
  2. What is the scientific name of pyrethrum? The scientific name of pyrethrum is Chrysanthemum cinerariaefolium.
  3. What is the planting season for pyrethrum in Kenya? The best time to plant pyrethrum in Kenya is during the long rains, which occur between March and May.
  4. How long does it take for pyrethrum to mature? Pyrethrum takes about 8-12 months to mature.
  5. How is pyrethrum harvested? Pyrethrum is harvested by cutting the flowers just before they fully open. The flowers are then dried and the pyrethrins are extracted.
  6. What is the ideal soil type for pyrethrum farming in Kenya? The ideal soil type for pyrethrum farming in Kenya is well-drained loam soil.
  7. How is pyrethrum propagated? Pyrethrum is propagated by vegetative means, such as stem cuttings or division of the root.
  8. What are the common pests and diseases that affect pyrethrum? The common pests and diseases that affect pyrethrum include aphids, mites, leaf miners, and Fusarium wilt.
  9. How is pyrethrum processed? Pyrethrum is processed by drying the flowers, extracting the pyrethrins, and then refining the pyrethrins to produce a pure product.
  10. What are the benefits of pyrethrum farming in Kenya? The benefits of pyrethrum farming in Kenya include increased income for farmers, employment opportunities, and the production of natural and environmentally friendly insecticides.
  11. How much does it cost to start a pyrethrum farm in Kenya? The cost of starting a pyrethrum farm in Kenya varies depending on the size of the farm, but it typically ranges from Ksh. 100,000 to Ksh. 400,000 per acre.
  12. What is the yield of pyrethrum per acre? The yield of pyrethrum per acre ranges from 200-500 kg of dried flowers.
  13. What is the price of pyrethrum per kilogram in Kenya? The price of pyrethrum per kilogram in Kenya varies depending on the quality and the market demand, but it typically ranges from Ksh. 300 to Ksh. 800.
  14. How is pyrethrum sold in Kenya? Pyrethrum is sold either directly to the buyers or through cooperatives and other marketing channels.
  15. How do I control pests and diseases in my pyrethrum farm? Pests and diseases in pyrethrum can be controlled through good agricultural practices such as proper crop management, crop rotation, and the use of natural pesticides and insecticides.
  16. How do I process pyrethrum at home? Processing pyrethrum at home is not recommended as it requires specialized equipment and skills.
  17. Is pyrethrum farming profitable in Kenya? Yes, pyrethrum farming can be profitable in Kenya if it is done properly and with the right management practices.
  18. Can pyrethrum be intercropped with other crops? Yes, pyrethrum can be intercropped with other crops such as beans, maize, and potatoes.

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