This article focuses on sugar beet farming in Kenya. Sugar beet farming is not a common venture in Kenya, but it is one of the most profitable agribusiness sectors that one can venture into. Sugar beet roots contain a high concentration of sucrose and are mainly grown commercially for sugar production. Sugar beet may be used in the production of white sugar or refined sugar such as brown sugar and molasses.
Sugar beet can be a viable alternative for sugar production in Kenya if the government puts in more effort in supporting beet farmers in the country. Kenya currently produces about 600,000 tonnes of sugar annually. This is way much below the projected annual consumption of about 800,000 tonnes. A lot of sugar is therefore imported from neighbouring countries to cover the deficit.
By-products from sugar beet processing can be used as supplemental feed for livestock. Such by-products include molasses, pulp and sugar syrup. The by-products can also be used in alcohol production and making pharmaceuticals.
Conditions For Growing Sugar Beets
- Sugar beet grows well in temperate climates and matures after 3-6 months.
- They are adapted to a wide range of soil types but the best is deep and well-drained soil of PH 6.0 to 6.5.
- Sugar beet seeds may be planted directly or in small containers with well-drained soil. The seeds can be purchased in any agricultural stores or seed companies in Kenya.
- The sugar beet seeds should be soaked for 24 hours before planting.
Sugar Beet Farming Areas In Kenya
As mentioned earlier, sugar beet farming is not a common practice in Kenya. It is mostly done on small scale in Nyandarua and some parts of Embu, Machakos and Western.
Nyandarua leads as the main sugar beet farming area in Kenya. According to agricultural research and tests are done based on climate, soil types and rainfall patterns, Nyandarua is favourable for sugar beet farming in Kenya.