Saturday, April 13, 2024

Popular herb earning farmers millions in 45 days

Chives, a popular herb related to onions, garlic, and leeks is one of the most profitable short-season crops to grow in Kenya.

The herb which is mainly grown in Kenya for export is characterized by its long, thin leaves that resemble grass or small hollow tubes.

Its high demand both in local and international markets, makes chives farming a promising agribusiness venture. Chives are propagated by dividing the clumps and planting the same.

They can also be grown from seeds sown in spring, which are always slow in growth. It takes about 45 days for chives to mature, after which, it is harvested after every 25 days for three years.

The herb does well in areas with a cool to temperate climate. Its performance is highly determined by irrigation level and consistent moisture, especially during the growing season is crucial.

High yielding onion variety with a shelf life of up to six months

Drip irrigation systems are recommended to avoid waterlogging. On fertilization, regular applications of compost or well-rotted manure, coupled with a balanced NPK fertilizer, contribute to robust plants.

According to agricultural officers, the crop can earn farmers millions within the first two planting and harvesting seasons under proper care. Agricultural export data shows chives fetched Ksh61 million between January and July 2021.

Jacqueline Nuwamanya, a large-scale Chives farmer in Nakuru says the herb has to be grown under strict conditions to ensure they are up to international standards.

“Good agricultural practices are key for the export market, I have had moments where my chives were rejected but we learn through the journey,” says Nuwamanya.

The farmer mainly exports her produce to the Netherlands where they fetch between Sh380 and Sh400 per kilo. According to Farm Biz Africa, some international markets buy a kilo of chives for up to Ksh820 (5.25 euros).

Nuwamanya notes that the venture is lucrative despite it being labour-intensive.

“Chives has got high returns and ready market but one must be ready to do the hard work,” she says.

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