Contract farming bringing hope to Nakuru, Nyandarua pyrethrum sector
Gen Xers in Nakuru and Nyandarua counties fondly recall the bygone 80s and 90s when pyrethrum farming offered reliable family incomes that saw most of them through school.
Their parents heartily applied themselves to this trade, making Kenya one of the world’s leading producers of the crop, controlling a sizable chunk of the global market.
As fate would have it, mismanagement of the sector and the emergence of competitive synthetic pesticides stripped the venture of its initial allure, leading disenchanted producers to abandon pyrethrum farming for more tenable alternatives such as maize and potatoes.
However, a Nairobi-based biotechnology firm Kentegra is steadily reveving pyrethrum farming in Nakuru and Nyandarua counties through contract farming.
In this type of arrangement, agricultural production is premised on an agreement between farmers and a buyer, where the latter supplies inputs such as seeds, fertilizer, and agrochemicals, while the former’s role is to deliver products of specified quality.
Kentegra started out in Nakuru five years ago and has so far recruited more than 7,000 farmers across the county, offering Kes250 for a kilo of dried pyrethrum flowers.
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The firm provides contracted individuals with requisite inputs and it deploys field officers who provide farmers with technical assistance in production methods, water harvesting, soil testing, and financial literacy, among other vital services.
Following successful piloting in Nakuru, Kentegra has now shifted to Nyandarua where the county government approved its engagement with prospective farmers.
Nyandarua governor Kiarie Badilisha appreciated the company’s entry into the area, projecting impactful developments in the months ahead.
“We assure farmers that with the agreement, pyrethrum has a guaranteed market. We eventually want to increase production to a level where we can have a county-based processing plant,” said the governor.
The County’s Agriculture Executive said they seek to bring over 2,000 acres under pyrethrum this year.
Kentegra CEO Brian McKenzie added: “I guarantee farmers of market. We are going to engage in contract farming.”