A Murang’a farmer has opted to uproot his coffee bushes and embarked on aerial yam farming, a unique crop in the region.
Simon Ngure, who is also a member of clergy of a local church has left many residents in awe after deciding to do away with coffee farming and venture into little known aerial yams which he claims has more returns.
Ngure who hails from Mathioya Sub-County told KNA that aerial yam, a kind of yarn that grows off the ground, can be farmed by anyone as it does not require a big piece of land.
Ngure added, “My land had few coffee bushes which could not give good returns that prompted me to seek for a crop which have more returns”.
“I only have a small piece of land, an eighth of an acre for my aerial yams. From a distance you can see the plants look like passion fruits from the way the branches have intertwined,” he said.
Ngure said that he had learnt about aerial yams when he visited a friend from another county who had the yams in his farm.
“After seeing the strange yams in that farm I decided to carry some few vines and try growing them on my shamba,” he stated.
Ngure also observed that yam farming was a financial turning point after the returns he got from it.
At first he farmed for his family but attracted buyers that made him uproot all his coffee plants and ventured into the yams farming for business. The pastor went ahead to drill a borehole so as to have sufficient water for the crop especially during dry seasons.
“On my small farm the yams yield more returns compared to coffee, so I chose to focus on yams and I even drilled a borehole to ensure I have adequate water for irrigation during dry period,” he noted
Ngure explained that the crop is very economical in terms of space noting that he is able to intercrop the yams with other crops without interference. He has also planted vegetables like kales and spinach and at times tomatoes or any crop that takes less than three months to mature.
The farmer said maintenance for this type of yam is not labour intensive as the vine rejuvenates themselves.
“Another advantage of the crop is that once you plant the vines they rejuvenate after 11 months, the only replacement needed is the supporting sticks.” he added.
A full 20-kilogram bucket, the farmer observes that it retails between Sh5,000 and 7, 000 saying the money has helped him to comfortably meet his financial obligations.
Other than the income, Ngure noted that the yams were a healthy food option for his family as they are said to be rich in minerals.
George Muchoki, a neighbour who frequently visits Ngure’s farm to learn, was excited about aerial yam farming and intended to plant them on his farm, he urged the government to put more effort in educating farmers on new crops and farming technologies.
“It is time for both the County and National Governments to revive agriculture extension services so that more farmers like me can be trained on modern ways of profitable farming,” remarked Muchoki.
By Bernard Munyao