Kenya’s pyrethrum production is expected to slightly increase to 350 tonnes in 2016, up from the 300 tonnes produced in 2015, officials said on Monday.
Agriculture Fisheries and Food Authority (AFFA) Interim Head of Pyrethrum and Other Industrial Crops Directorate Solomon Odera told Xinhua in Nairobi that there has been a renewed interest in the crop by farmers.
“Part of the reason we have not seen the anticipated growth in terms of production we thought we would see is due to efforts we have put in the industry to expand area under pyrethrum cultivation,” Odera said.
He said that 90 percent of Kenya’s produce goes to the European Union while the rest is used locally.
Data from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock indicates that Kenya has approximately 2,000 acres under pyrethrum cultivation.
“Our officials have gone into areas that have already established crop and began splitting the plant. This will enable Kenya to expand area under crop in the coming years,” he said.
Odera added that manufacturers and other processors are now beginning to invest in the value chain after years of neglect. The AFFA official said that the liberalization of the sector has attracted new entrants in the industry.
In the 1980s, the East African nation was the leading producer in the world and controlled 70 percent of pyrethrum trade.
However, the emergence of synthetics led to the collapse of the pyrethrum farming.
“The synthetics were cheaper and more effective and so logically most buyers turned away from natural pyrethrum,” Odera said.
He observed that the due increased pollution by the chemical sectors, people are now seeking organic alternatives to chemicals for use in the health and agricultural industry.
The Chinese government and private sector is also playing an active role in reviving Kenya’s pyrethrum sector.
“By coming to Kenya, there will be more opportunities for farmers to sell their produce and this will help to boost pyrethrum prices,” Odera said.