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    jackfruit FB

    By Brian Moseti

    Eric Munene grew up with several jackfruit plants in his homestead in Kibugua region of Chuka, a town on the eastern slopes of Mount Kenya. However, it was only recently that he began to recognize it as a valuable plant. 

    The jackfruitis a multiple fruit consisting of several small one-seeded fruitlets. The entire fruit weighs 4.5-50 kg and is oval, oblong or ellipsoid in shape. The fruit, which is covered by a rubbery rind and hard spines is pale or dark green when young, greenish-yellow, yellow or brownish when mature. 

    Once unknown to a majority of Kenyans, the jackfruit’s popularity has grown tremendously thanks to the explosion of roadside sellers in Nakuru, Sagana and Mombasa. For Munene, whose family had grown tired of the sugary fruit, the new demand prompted him to plant more trees, and he is already reporting improved incomes as the market remains constant all year round

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    “Growing up, we had more of the fruit than we could use, and because it was a common plant in our neighbourhood, we did not see any commercial value in it. Often, we would have the fruits rotting as we fed some to cows,” said Munene. 

    Munene’s attitude to the plant changed in 2008, when, as a university student, he visited Mombasa to find fruit vendors selling a sliceof the fruit at KSh100. 

    I was shocked that a fruit we found useless in my home area was fetching almost KSh1000 in Mombasa. More surprising was the fact that there were ready buyers for it,” he said. 

    He later went back home and planted more jackfruit, to increase his family’s tree count to 30Today, Munene harvests up to 3000 fruits per season, each fetching him KSh400 at the farm. 

    “It is a profitable venture from where I stand because the crop does not require any intensive management. Often, the biggest task required of me is to harvest,” said Munene

    Yet, he is not the only one who is gaining from the explosion in demand for the fruit. In Baringo County, several farmers who planted the tree less than a decade ago are unable to satisfy the interest rising in Nakuru town. 

    A roadside market coming up between Nakuru’s Sobea and Ngata Bridge regions has excited the attention of enthusiastic travelers with the jackfruit as an additional product to the now popular watermelons.

    We have several farmers in Baringo who supply us with jackfruits. We just recently discovered the fruit but it is selling really well here,” said Mary Wairimu, who sells a mature jackfruit at an average price of KSh650. The farmers, in Baringo, get KSh300-400 for each fruit. 

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    The jackfruit grows in tropical, near tropical and subtropical regionsPropagated from seeds, the jackfruit starts producing after six years with each tree yielding 100 – 200 fruits per year. The tree requires little care and apart from the periodic application of fertilizer, the jackfruit is self-sustaining. 

    For jackfruit seedlings and more information on its care, reach out to the Kenya Agricultural and Liverstock Research Organization (KALRO) via phone+254 202176420 or email: cri@kalro.org

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    Biogas FB

    By Brian Moseti

    Among the common sights at homesteads in the Ewaso Kedong region of Kenya’s Kajiado County are mounds of manure, sometimes covered with tarpaulins or plastic bags.

    Being pastoralists, members of the Maasai community who live in the area typically have many cows, goats and sheep, which overnight, generate tonnes of waste within their bomas (holding areas).

    It is this waste that is commonly gathered and piled away for sale to buyers from other regions, who collect it in lorryfuls for as little as KSh1,000 thousand per load.

    But the situation is different in Ene Moipei’s home where you cannot come across the telling mounds of manure, a resource he channels to produce biogas. Biogas is a biofuel that is naturally generated from the decomposition of organic waste.

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    When organic matter, such as animal waste, breaks down in an anaerobic environment (one without oxygen), a blend of gases comprising methane is released. It is this methane that is harvested as a clean fuel to power gas cookers and sometimes light fixtures.

    The Moipei homestead has 23 cows and hundreds of goats and sheep, all of which produce enough waste matter to generate more gas than is needed every day, saving his family KSh8,000 per month in firewood costs. This is besides the added benefit of living in a smokeless environment.

    Like everybody else here, I used to sell this manure until I learned that it can be used to produce cooking gas,” said Moipei, 56, whose extended family comprises 17 members.

    To produce the gas, Moipei collects the animal waste in two flexible digesters (tarpaulin bladders) each with a capacity of 6,000 liters and costing KSh87,000. About 20Kg of waste is added into each bladder daily to produce enough gas for the whole family.

    It is easy to maintain the system because all that is required is the once-a-day feeding of the system with fresh animal waste; nothing else,” said Moipei.

    As the waste sits in the digester, decomposition happens producing methane that rises to the top and is then directed to where it is needed via pipes.

    The digester is designed in such a way that once fresh matter is added into the bladder, expended waste is pushed out another end. The digested matter is free of smell but contains enough nutrients for fertilizing crops.

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    Presently, Moipei lets this effluent run through his farm as he works to set up an irrigated crop-production enterprise.

    Most of us who live here have plenty of land, but it is only now that we are learning to use it productively. I am planning to start watermelon farming and I am sure that the waste from my biogas system will come in handy to fertilize my plants,” he said.

    For more information on the flexible biogas digesters, call Flexi Biogas Solutions on 0722700530 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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    135049409 1368071303529415 1843335542455076079 n 1

    By George Munene

    Sugargraze is a new hybrid specialty forage introduced to the Kenyan market by agri-produce multinational Advanta. The multi-cut high sugar forage promises farmers a 30 per cent increase in milk output.

    Given it is a sorghum variant sugargaraze is drought tolerant compared to other fodder crops such as maize and napier grass. It thrives in both high and low potential areas with poor soils, where maize production is poorer.

    This also makes it an ideal source of fodder when maize and other feed sources fail.

    It is high yielding with an acre giving up to 40 metric tonnes, which is much more forage than other sources of fodder such as maize. Unlike maize, their lower leaves do not dry out as the plant matures, remaining green and retaining a higher crude protein content.

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    To other fodder sources such as maize, sugargraze has the advantage of ratooning (growing again). The second crop matures earlier but depending on the level of feed might yield slightly less than the first crop. This cuts on cost in land preparation, purchasing of seeds and replanting.

    The late flowering sorghum cultivar has a high sugar content (Brix 16-18%) that is a superior source of energy to cows. This also improves its ensiling quality enabling farmers to make high-quality silage besides making it extremely palatable hence minimal feed waste. 

    Sugargaze should be established at a seed rate of 5kg per acre in heavy black soils and 6kg on light soils prepared to a fine tilth and at a planting depth of 5-6cm depth. The soils should preferably have a PH range of 5.5-7.0. 

    For optimum growth, farmers should conduct soil tests to establish their soil’s nutrient deficiency. Whilst planting phosphatic fertiliser should be applied at a rate of N-30kg/acre, P-2Kg/acre. Adequate nitrogen ensures fast growth and regeneration after cutting. Top dressing can be done at the third-week post-establishment using any nitrogenous fertiliser.

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    Sugagraze is mature for harvesting after 75 –90 days after flowering for green forage and 85 days for green forage. Ratoon (second harvest) matures in just 50-60 days after the first cut. A farmer should leave a 6-8 inch stalk above ground to allow for immediate regeneration of multi-cuts.

    “Sugargraze is harvestable for one and half years before needing to be changed,” says Jomo Mwangala a seed agronomist at Elgon Kenya Limited 

    Advanta Seeds International: +254703879082

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