Joyce Womomo, a farmer in Sirisia Constituency, Bungoma County, has now improved her earnings after ditching maize for sunflower farming.
The farmer revealed she would get only 50kgs from her maize farm, and the earnings could not cater to all her needs. This prompted her to divert to sunflower farming, and she now gets three times her previous income from the same piece of land.
“We can plant sunflower, produce vegetable cooking oil and sell, then use the money we get to buy foodstuffs like maize and beans that we cannot produce in our small pieces of land,” Wamono said.
According to her, the sunflower crop is drought resistant and its oil has no cholesterol. The crop matures within three to four months, depending on the variety.
Harvesting is done when the heads turn yellow or brown at the back. After harvesting, the farmer crushes the sunflower seed using an oil press to extract the oil.
“In an acre piece of land, you get at least 1,000 kilograms of sunflower seeds. I sell a half litre of sunflower cooking oil at Sh400, five litres at Sh1,800, 10 litres at Sh3,500 (26.94) and 20 litres goes at Sh4,500,” she explained.
Wamomo also sells the byproduct of sunflower seed as feed for dairy animals, pigs, and poultry. For every 100kg of sunflower seeds, 75 kg becomes a by-product. She sells that at Sh70 per kilogram.
Bilal Kweyu, an agronomist from Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology, encouraged farmers to consider venturing into sunflower farming, given the ready markets for sunflower products.
“You don’t need to grow maize and wait for six months for it to mature and harvest 100 kilos of maize, yet you can grow sunflowers and harvest twice in six months and use the money to buy food,” he said.