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County to spend millions to revamp pyrethrum sub-sector

The county government of Nakuru will allocate Shs.27 million in the next financial year towards revamping the Pyrethrum sub-sector.

Governor Susan Kihika said her government had entered into a public-private partnership to revamp the production of pyrethrum in the region.

The partnership, the governor explained, will involve recruitment of new farmers who will be provided with seedlings in a strategy expected to take the county back to its former glory as a leading producer of pyrethrum.

Ms Kihika said the County was collaborating with the state-owned Pyrethrum Processing Company of Kenya (PPCK) and private entities to put up nurseries that will provide farmers with quality seedlings with a view to increasing acreage under the crop.

She added that the County was planning to cultivate 30,000 acres of pyrethrum in Nakuru, by supporting local farmers through the provision of high-quality planting materials that lead to increased yields and improved returns.

“Success of this project will also boost this region’s economic wellbeing,” added the governor.

Ms Kihika said her administration will also avail sufficient land in pyrethrum growing zones of Molo, Kuresoi South, Kuresoi North, and Njoro Sub-Counties to enable PPCK and other private sector actors to set up crop nurseries in a plan aimed at lessening the burden of sourcing for seedlings from other regions.

The nurseries, she added will grow the developed Nakuru Region Pyrethrum Clone that is disease-resistant and has higher pyrethrin content.

Speaking to the media in her office at the County headquarters Ms Kihika asked farmers to embrace pyrethrum farming as it will earn them good returns since it is harvested every three months.

She said the pyrethrin content per kilo in the Nakuru variety ranges from 1.4 to 1.8 percent which is likely to increase as farmers grow better-quality seedlings.

Ms Kihika further explained that other than targeting the revival of the crop in traditional pyrethrum growing areas of Molo, Njoro, Kuresoi South, and Kuresoi North, the County was also keen to break new grounds that have the potential.

Venturing into new areas, the governor said will help the county to achieve the envisaged County Agricultural and Economic Development Revolution.

Governor Kihika’s administration has made the revival of pyrethrum a flagship project to create employment and wealth under the national government’s Vision 2030.

At least 10,000 farmers are growing pyrethrum on 2,148 acres across the 11 sub-counties but the governor said the county has the potential to put 30,000 acres under the crop.

The county is banking on the building of the pyrethrum processing factory in Naivasha and the planned construction of the County Aggregation and Industrial Park at Egerton Agro-City to upscale value-addition.

The Governor said her government was committed to boosting pyrethrum growing by ensuring that at least an additional 1,500 acres of land were put under the cash crop in the next two years.

She added that her administration was working with the Ministry of Agriculture, the PPCK, research institutions, and other stakeholders as part of the strategies to fully revive pyrethrum growing.

She further said the strategy was to facilitate the provision and distribution of enough quality seedlings to farmers to increase the capacity of the pyrethrum processing plant.

Kihika said her government was also working to ensure the full revival of pyrethrum production by providing the necessary resources and incentives and by training more extension workers through a collaboration with Egerton University.

She added that her government will work closely with the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service to ensure the seeds supplied to farmers are certified and suitable for planting in specific areas and called on investors in the lucrative industry to rethink their business model by ensuring they set aside enough money to pay farmers on time to enable them to improve on their production.

Kenya was once the world’s leading producer of pyrethrum but due to poor management of the defunct Pyrethrum Board of Kenya, the industry regulator, the business grappled with hard times for many years.

Records at the County agriculture department indicate that production of pyrethrum in the country has since declined from a high of 18,000 tons in 1992 to the current national production of about 500 tons per year.

Pyrethrum is grown in 18 counties with Nakuru, Nyandarua, and West Pokot emerging as the main producers of the cash crop that was once christened ‘White gold of Kenya. The crop is also grown in Uasin Gishu, Kericho, Kisii, Kiambu, Narok, Nyamira, Nyeri, Baringo, Nandi, Meru, Embu, and Murang’a, among other counties.

By Esther Mwangi

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