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Farmers turn to traditional food crops

Tuesday April 17 2012

By GERALD ANDAE

Challenges such as unpredictable weather and spiralling costs of production have made many maize farmers in the North Rift to turn to growing indigenous crops.

Once termed “orphan” crops, sweet potatoes, cassava, and yams have become a lucrative business for many farmers in the region, with demand for them going up against diminishing stocks.

Farmers have also embraced banana growing and are reaping huge profits, drawing more and more farmers into the venture.

Mr Albert Mocho, a farmer in Soy, Lugari County, says he has scaled down the acreage under maize and increased the one under indigenous crops.

“I realised that there was increased demand for indigenous crops and that supply was low. This was reason enough for me to start investing in these crops,” he said.

Mr Mocho says he capitalised on a ready market to grow the crops. Many customers, he says, are willing to pay handsomely for indigenous crops.

He says the crops have become an alternative breakfast menu for both rural and urban people.

“Previously, people had a low opinion of these foods, thinking that they were just for rural people who could not afford bread. But this perception has changed, with urban residents now consuming more indigenous foods than the rural people,” says Mr Mocho.