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Pyrethrum makes remarkable comeback in Elgeyo Marakwet

In a remarkable turn of fortune for pyrethrum farmers in Elgeyo Marakwet County, the once-fading industry has seen a resurgence with record-breaking sales last week.

Farmers from the region rejoiced as they sold more than two tonnes of pyrethrum flowers, raking in over Ksh. 500, 000 in earnings within a single week. This welcome windfall has breathed new life into an agricultural sector struggling for years.

Pyrethrum, known for its natural insect-repelling properties, has been a traditional crop in Elgeyo Marakwet for generations. However, the industry has experienced a decline in recent years, primarily due to changing agricultural dynamics and competition from other cash crops. But now, it seems the tide is turning.

The remarkable resurgence in pyrethrum farming was most pronounced in Moiben-Kuserwo Ward, Marakwet West Sub County, where farmers recorded over one tonne of high sales. Following closely behind were farmers from Kapsigoria and Cheptulon, while those from Kipteber in Sengwer Ward secured the third spot. Chepkorio Ward farmers also made significant contributions to the revival of the pyrethrum industry.

“I planted pyrethrum in April this year, and I have received my first pay,” said Agnes Jerono, a farmer from Moiben Kuserwo.

She added that she is looking forward to getting more money as her plants continue to flower.

Key factors contributing to this success have been the ready market for the produce and the favourable weather conditions. Current rains across the county have provided a much-needed boost to pyrethrum production.

Kentegra field officer Justin Kangogo, expressed optimism about the situation, saying, “We are expecting a bumper harvest this week because of the rains.” This optimistic outlook bodes well for the entire Elgeyo Marakwet Pyrethrum community.

Kentegra, an organisation that contracts with and supports pyrethrum farmers in the region, has played a pivotal role in this revival. Kentegra currently contracts more than 2,000 farmers, spread across pyrethrum-growing wards in the county, including Metkei, Chepkorio, Kaptarakwa, Kapyego, Lelan, Moiben-Kuserwo, and Embobut-Embolot. Additionally, farmers from Kamariny, Kapsowar, Kabiemit, and Sengwer are also part of this growing movement.

The success story of pyrethrum in Elgeyo Marakwet is not only a testament to the resilience of local farmers but also an indicator of the potential for the revitalization of traditional agricultural practices. With favourable weather conditions and strong support from organisations like Kentegra, the future looks bright for pyrethrum farming in the county.

By Rennish Okong’o

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