Millet Farming In Kenya

This article focuses on millet farming in Kenya. Millet is a drought-resistant grain that is grown in Kenya by small-scale farmers. It is mainly grown for local use/ consumption.

Varieties of Millet Grown In Kenya

There are different varieties of millet grown in Kenya. This includes;

(i). Finger millet

  • P224.
  • Gulu E.
  • KAT/FM-1.
  • Lanet FM- 1.

(ii). Pearl millet

  • KAT/FM-1.
  • KAT/FM-2.
  • KAT/ FM-3.

(iii). Proso/ common millet

  • KAT/ Pro-1.

(iv). Fox tail millet

  • KAT/ Fox-1.

Ecological Requirements

  1. Annual rainfall of 250mm.
  2. Altitude of 0-2400m above sea level.
  3. Does well in various soil types.
  4. Different temperature ranges, but it is susceptible to frost.

Land Preparation

Land should be thoroughly prepared before planting. It should be ploughed during the dry season. Deep ploughing is highly encouraged.

After ploughing the land, prepare seedbeds to a fine tilth and apply organic manure.

Planting

Planting is best done at the onset of rain. Propagation is by seeds (broadcasting method). The seeds should be sown at a depth of about 2.5cm (when soil is moist) and 5cm (when soil is dry).

Spacing depends on the variety planted. The best spacing for Fox tail millet, finger millet and pearl millet is 60 cm by 15 cm while for common millet is 30cm by 10cm.

During planting, you can apply NPK fertiliser at the rate of 125kg per hectare. For topdressing, you can use 125kg of CAN per hectare.

Millet Management

(i). Thinning

Thinning should be done after about two weeks, once the crop has attained a height of 15-20 cm. Thinning encourages proper air circulation.

(ii). Weeding

Proper weeding needs to be done to avoid competition for nutrients and other important minerals. It should be done regularly.

Pests and Diseases

Common pests that attack millet include spotted stem borer, African armyworm and millet head miner. They can be eradicated by practicing proper field hygiene and using insecticides such as thuricides.

Common diseases include long smut, ergot and crazy top-downy mildew. The diseases can be controlled by planting resistant varieties and crop rotation.

Harvesting

Millet takes about 2-4 months to be ready for harvesting. The duration depends on the variety planted. The grains should be properly dried before storage.

The Market for Millet in Kenya

There is no definite market for Millet in Kenya. You can however sell your produce to flour millers/ processors or to livestock farmers as fodder.

The biggest buyers of millet in Kenya are flour millers who use it to make baking flour.

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Zack Abuyeka

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