Growing Sukuma wiki in Kenya.
Yesterday, I sat on my desk.
I thought long and hard on:
“How to generate a consistent income from sukuma wiki vegetable farming.”
As my mind was occupied on that thought…
My heart went out to farmers who have to wait for up to one year or more, to get an income from the crops they grow in their farms.
I thought about the long wait farmers in the Mumias, Sony, Awendo, and Nzoia sugar belt have to endure—before they earn a single coin from their sugarcane farms.
“If only they found a suitable crop (like kale) to complement their sugar cane, their lives would be much richer.” I silently thought.
As these thoughts consumed my mind, I decided to seriously EVALUATE whether sukuma wiki can be an alternative crop to farmers struggling with cash flow.
Therefore, this blog is about how sukuma wiki (a crop also known kale) can improve a farmer’s cash flow.
Any Farmer in Kenya Can Grow Sukuma Wiki (Kale)
The thought of growing Sukuma wiki came to my mind like a thunderbolt.
I had never given it much attention before.
At last, after some reflective thinking…
…”Doing a little math here and there and evaluating of my past experience as a farm manager at Kamiti Prison Farm (where the mani vegetable crop is Kale)
I found a vegetable that farmers ( and any farmer in Kenya) in these areas could grow to supplement their income from sugarcane.
Therefore, if you are reading this, and you have a problem of consistent cash flow from your farm, kale could be the crop for you.
No other vegetable is as easy to grow as kale (Sukuma wiki)
Before I came to that conclusion, I thought about various leafy vegetables.
Critically, I considered vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, cabbage, amaranths, managu, and spider plant.
I thought about the suitability of each of them. I thought about the difficulty of growing each, the cost of seed, the management aspect, and the ease of sale.
For me to recommend a vegetable, it must be highly acceptable to the market, easy to grow and generate cash flow during the harsh weather and during the good weather.
After cracking my head for several hours, i can comfortably say:
“Sukuma wiki is the best vegetable for farmers in sugarcane areas, and for farmers other areas facing similar cash flow challenges.
After much thinking about each vegetable’s growth characteristics, growing conditions, ease of management, and potential yield, I came to one conclusion.
“Sukuma wiki (also Known as kale) is the vegetable to grow!”
Week after week, kale can give farmers consistent income!
This finding may be unbelievable to people and perhaps you.
I understand the unbelief considering that…
Many prospective farmers frown upon this kale as ‘a poor man’s vegetable.’
They consider it too to be of low value to warrant investing in its production.
They would rather invest their time and money in production of other exotic vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, or cauliflower that sell more per kilo than kale.
However, the market demands of kale, its palatability, and its many other qualities proves that belief that its a poor mans crop UTTERLY wrong.
With confidence I can say that Sukuma wiki is a money maker!
As you continue to read, you’ll understand why.
Here’s Why No Green-leafy Vegetable is Popular in Kenya as Sukuma wiki!
Kenyans living in Nairobi, Busia, Nyeri, Kakamega, Garissa, Kisii, Mumias, Mombasa, Malindi, Taita, Kakamega–just to name a few– eat sukuma wiki regularly.
- People find Sukuma wiki highly tasty
- It is easy to cook compared to vegetables like managu, or Chinsaga that require more boiling time to be palatable.
- With only a few shillings you can feed a FAMILY OF 5 PEOPLE. That can’t be said of managu, Kunde or Chinsaga.
- Easy to transport over long distances compared to traditional vegetables.
- Lower perishability compared to traditional vegetables. If kept in the right environment, it can stay fresh for up to 5 days unlike other green leafy vegetables.
- Nationwide acceptability of kale as a vegetable is also a significant factor.
- Kale has a long harvest period. Once you transplant Sukuma wiki, you can harvest leaves from every single plant for over 7 months, hence it will give you decent returns!
I have just started about the benefits of kale, there is more!
The secret to making a Good Return from Kale/sukuma wiki Farming is..
Truth be told.
Depending on the weather, prices of agricultural commodities (including sukuma wiki) plummet, or steeply rise.
In Kenya, the price of Sukuma wiki tends to drop in the rainy season, and rise in the dry season.
The secret therefore, for profiting from Sukuma wiki is growing it in dry weather when it is in short supply.
There are times when the price of kale UNBELIEVABLY s skyrockets to 2,000 shillings or more for a 50 kilo bag.
Can you imagine what sukuma wiki farmers earn during those times? You have the answer!
Sukuma wiki/Kale Varieties in Kenya
There are two major varieties of kale in Kenya:
- A thousand Headed
- Southern Georgia Collards
The seeds are fairly cheap and with 200 shillings you can start a Sukuma wiki farm.
Here’s How to Grow Delicious Sukuma wiki/ Kale in the Farm.
To grow kale, you will need seedlings.
Since kale has very small seeds, to raise the seedlings you’ll have to:
- Sow the seeds in seed tray or a nursery.
- Irrigate them
- In 5 days they will germinate
- They continue growing in the nursery for 20 days before they attain a transplanting height of 10-15 cm.
Spacing of Kale in the Farm
I recommend an inter row spacing of 15 cm and a intra row spacing of 40 cm.
Depending on your locality, harvesting of Sukuma wiki starts in 1½- months after transplanting.
- To harvest sukuma wiki without injuring it, you just break the leave stalk of mature leaves ensuring you leave 1/4 inch of the leaf stalk on the stem.
- Start harvesting the lower leaves first, leaving the upper small leaves time to expand in size.
- As you harvest, be careful that you don’t injure the stem as that would create an entry point for rot forming bacteria.
- One other point to note is, “don’t overharvest.”
- Depending on the number of leaves on a single plant, harvest 5-7 leaves.
- If the mature leaves are fewer, reduce the number of leaves you harvest accordingly.
- Related: Yield per acre of sukuma wiki
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