The farmers from the agricultural area of Ndundori, north of Nakuru town, have come together under the identity-4Brothers group-and assist farmers in planting the crop, advise them on how to manage it as well as sensitize them on better methods of farming in areas facing water scarcity.
“We cannot be having farmers growing crops that fail from time to time due to low rainfall or insufficient water levels. There must be a change of things in their farming systems,” said Francis Maathai, the group’s secretary in an interview on Saturday.
The dry arrowroot as it is known is a new species obtained from Rwanda and can thrive in the arid and semi-arid areas, he said.
“Farmers in the dry areas have a choice in the arrowroots because they can eat and sell surplus to supplement their dietary needs,” he said.
In six months the dry arrowroot is ready for consumption compared to the eight months the species growing in the waterlogged areas takes, he said.
To grow it, one requires dry matter such as dry grass or leaves which holds the moisture and softens the soil allowing the arrowroot to expand, Maathai explained.
4Brothers is one of the groups that showcased their products at the two-day East African Grain Council Agribusiness Expo held at Nakuru County-based Kabarak University from Aug. 12 to 13.
“When farmers have information on what they need to grow and do to boost their harvests, lives change,” said Maathai, noting that they have trained more than 2,000 farmers drawn from all parts of the country about the crop and helped some plant it.
“The dry arrowroots do not just keep away the hunger but they are also a very good source of income,” said Maathai.
“They are always on demand. You will never lack a market and they fetch good profits. And the farmers in the dry areas can realize these benefits if they were more exposed to the information,” he said.
Arrowroots are among the traditional crops that the Food and Agriculture Organization is encouraging farmers across the world to grow to fight hunger.
It has been found that most farmers abandon the traditional crops for the cash crops which are now predisposed to effects of climate change which result in a vicious cycle of food scarcity and malnutrition especially among children.
Leah Mung’aro, a Crops officer with the Ministry of Agriculture says they offer free advice and guidance on how to grow the dry arrowroot.
“The dry arrowroot is high yielding if it is planted in the correct manner and that is why we highly encourage farmers to come to us so that we can advise them on how to do it,” she said.
Embracing arrowroot farming for the farmers in the dry areas could promote the government’s efforts of attaining sufficient and sustainable food supply in the Kenya, she said. Enditem
Source: Xinhua/News Ghana