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    By George Munene

    Mcharo Mbogho’s word of advice for any would be goat breeder is that they need an abiding passion for the animals and the art, without which they won’t weather the tough times that alternate with the good in goat farming.

    In three location in Taita-Taveta County, he has 450 heads of mostly female galla goats­— at least 150 at each site. Having lost 300 goats in 2017 to CCP, Contagious Caprine Pleuropneumonia, and acute drought, he’s opted to house them in different locations to spread out his risk.

    His first herd consists of does who make up his breeding stock. They range in age 1-3 or 4 years at a push, before he disposes of them. Every five months he has at least 100-200 kids. He lets them suckle for 3-4 months (the few weaker kids are left to stay with their mothers a bit longer) before weaning them off. If you allow, some kids will suckle for up to six months. This prevents the mother from coming on heat once again and isn’t workable in commercial goat farming.

    After the 3 months the ewes are usually depleted, they lose a lot of weight catering to their kids and they become brittle due to calcium lost via colostrum. He leaves them free to graze and build up mass, free of any kids or bucks. He practices oestrus synchronisation, ensuring all his goats come on heat at the same time.

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    At month five, he introduces new bucks into the herd for the tupping season (borrowed from sheep farming) between June and July. This sets up his does to give birth over the rainy season, November and December, when the pastures are lush and plentiful. One male buck caters to about 30 does; for his 150 does, he uses 5 bucks. He rotates them every mating season, sourced from across the country to avoid any chance of inbreeding.

    His second herd consists of 9-12 year olds. From here, he selects the very best as his next personal breeding stock or to sell off to other breeders. Every week or so, he sells at least one goat to be butchered. These are usually the goats he opts to dispose of because of deformities, i.e. having a single testicle, gimpy foot, poor tit formation, awkward horns, poor body formation or for aesthetics—  his preferred coat colouring for gallas is white with a bit of brown. He doesn’t settle on the goats he will use for breeding until they are at least 8-9 months old, as, at that age, they are mature enough to determine which meet his stringent standard to be chosen as future breeding stock. He usually only sells yearlings as breeders.  

    In his last herd, he houses goats that have been weened. The usually range between 4-9 months in age.

    His main costs of production are disease management. He vaccinates his animals bi-annually at a cost of Sh100 for every animal. His grazing land is also next to the Tsavo East National Park, which means that every once in a while he loses some goats to lion attacks The county government also charges Sh50 for every goat that leaves the county. Accounting for all his overheads—vaccination, staff payment, weekly dipping costs, Mcharo says he will, at most, spend Sh3,000 on every goat yearly.

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    After all his costs, he sells does at Sh8,000; bucks that are 9-12 months old for Sh12,000, and those that are 12-13 months old for Sh15,000.

    His main customer base has come through word-of-mouth customer referrals, but he works in Nairobi and movement restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of Covid-19 saw him absent from his farm longer than he had anticipated. This proved a veiled blessing as he advertised his business online and has sold 150 goats in just 3 weeks across the country. The ad even brought him one order of 100 goats from a buyer in Uganda and interest from as far out as Sudan.

    Mcharo says though he can keep up to 400 goats for every herd he is keen not to overgraze and degrade the environment. He has 165 acres of his own and access to 2,000 acres of communal land and has his sights set on expanding his heard to at least 1000 goats.

    Mcharo Mbogho: 0722368000

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    By Emily Okello

    Ginger, locally known as Tangawizi, is a crop rarely grown in Kenya despite huge demand both locally and internationally, with some 90 per cent of the ginger consumed in Kenya sourced from Uganda, Tanzania, South Africa, China, Ethiopia, or India.

    According to the Horticultural Crops Directorate (HCD), in 2018, Kenya produced 93 tonnes of ginger, valued at Sh9,672,000, up from 84 tonnes in 2017.

    Exports were, however, negligible, at just 704 kilograms in 2019, up from 32.5 kilograms in 2017. Kenya did not export any ginger in 2018. While local production remains so low, Kenya cannot meet the bulk volumes required to be a regular exporter into the world export market.

    Related News:FarmBiz TV:Farmer leaves knives for Sh12m a year from garlic and ginger.

    But the local deficit is now luring some farmers into the crop.

    Carol Chelangat, a farmer at Herbs and Spices Propagators, says they started growing ginger in 2019 on one acre of land due to the deficit in the country. With limited competitors in the local market, the returns have been great. For every one kilogram of ginger seeds sowed, they harvested 10 to 20 kilograms of fresh produce. Now they have 10 acres of land under ginger and this is still not enough to meet the local demand.

    To supplement the locally available produce, their customers import ginger mainly from Uganda, 60 per cent of which is consumed locally, while 40 per cent is exported to European countries.

    “Not much ginger is grown in the country, imports are required to satisfy local consumption levels. Most farmers focus on tomatoes, maize, and other horticultural crops because their knowledge on ginger farming and its lucrative international market is still scant,” said Caro.

    ”In Europe, the crop is especially in demand over the cold season due to its medicinal properties.”

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    According to statistics from the Centre for the Promotion of Imports from Developing Countries CBI, in 2018, European direct imports of dried ginger from 127 developing countries reached 127 thousand tonnes. China remains Europe’s main supplier of ginger. Other high volume exporters to the EU are Peru, Nigeria, Brazil, Thailand, and Burkina Faso.

    Herbs and Spices Propagators guidelines for beginners are that they need 500 to 1,000 kilograms of seeds for an acre to give an average yield of 10 to 20 tonnes of produce. They estimate a farmer can spend Sh243,000 to cultivate an acre. But that translates into Sh522,000 in returns, assuming farmers sell their ginger at a price, below current levels, of Sh75 per kilogram. The production cost factors in everything from the price of seeds, first and second ploughing, furrowing, manuring, fertilizer costs as well as the budget for hiring planting and harvesting labour. 

    From Caro’s experience, “ginger has a low pest infestation rate and is easy to manage. Since it’s not perishable, it can be irrigated and harvested when demand is high. Through value addition you can dry the ginger and sell as flakes or powder and get double the revenues,”

    The most common ginger variety in Kenya is the hybrid (Jamaican) with big rhizomes. Regions on the Coast, Western, and Nyanza present more suitable growing conditions, however, ginger is hardy and thrives in most parts of the country.

    In Kenya, the domestic market prefers green ginger, while dried ginger is mainly produced for export purposes. The crop fully matures after 6 to 8 months when the leaves have turned yellow and start drying. However, for vegetable purposes, rhizomes are harvested after 180 days.

    Ginger seeds cost Sh150 per kilogram.

    For ginger seeds, contact Carol Chelangat, Herbs and Spices Propagators growers, processors, packers and distributors, Kiambu on 0708847772 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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    market nairobi kenya

    By FarmBizAfrica

    FarmBizAfrica has launched a marketplace for farmers to advertise their goods for sale, for free, as well as to post details of any seeds, livestock or other input they are trying to source.

    “Farmers often struggle to achieve sales thanks to their poor linkages to buyers, but in 2020, with the amount of disruption we have seen to agriculture as a result of the Covid-19 epidemic, the need for new ways to match buyers and sellers is now even greater,” said Jenny Luesby, the publisher of

    “We also receive comments, emails and social media messages every day trying to source seeds, inputs, machinery and equipment, and we know just how much people need a channel for sourcing too.”

    Related News:About FarmBiz Society is the largest news service for smallholder farmers in Africa, with traffic according to server-based analytics of over one million views a month, and for cookie-based views of over 200,000 a month, according to Google Analytics.

    Based in Kenya, the site currently reports exclusively on Kenyan farming, but it also has growing readerships in Uganda, Tanzania, Nigeria and Ghana.

    The news service will also be running selected marketplace announcements on its social media platforms on Facebook and Twitter, which together have a further 60,000 followers.

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