Millets are cereal crops which grows in a grass shaped image. It’s leaves are always green but turns brown during maturity it always grows up to 1.5 m above the ground.
Millet in Kenya can be used in cooking the native ugali,porridge or even brewing. The advantage of growing millets in Kenya is that it’s straws can be used for animal feeds.
Millets can be very lucrative in Kenya because of most schools offers ready market that is due to the nature of using porridge as one of the main meal in schools.
Millet farming in Kenya is a very easy task because of the nature of the millet which is always most resistant to harsh weather conditions and requires minimal supervision and care during growth.
Millets seeds are in many varieties ranging from, katumani,P224,U-15,Gulu. it is important to visit your nearest Agrodealer for the perfect advisory on the seeds variety required in your area.
millet does well in environment with medium rainfall,fertile well drained sandy loam soil with a temperature of about 15 to 20 degrees Celsius. Millet cereals tolerate salinity better than most cereals.
Planting of millet you need to plough land and harrow the soil to come up with a very fine tilth because of its smaller seeds.
Ensure the land to be planted is completely free from hardpans and weeds which will hinder the growth and reduce yields.
When the farm is ready dig furrows evenly with a depth of 2.5 cm and 25 cm between rows, 10 centimetres between the planted cereals. Also it is important to grow all the millet during the onset of rains.
Broadcast the seeds evenly on the furrows and cover with thin soil. You may choose to intercrop the millet up with the other crops like maize beans among others for the proper utilisation of land.
After a week and a half depending on the seed variety germination of the millet Should have occurred. If the soil is not moist enough you should consider irrigation for almost two weeks. Until then thinning of the germinated millet is ready.
Thin millets to 10cm spacing and 50 plants per accession. This will ensure circulation of air within the crops and to increase yields.
Pest management practices and weeding regularly as you wait for maturity is done. Weeds inhibit the growth of millet bringing its stunted growth.
The millet is ready for harvesting after four to five months depending on the seed variety.
Cutting off the grains heads using a knife is done. You can also uproot the whole plant where the heads are dried threshed and winnowed. The grains can be stored on bags and are now ready for consumption of sale.
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Important farm practices tips on healthy millet farming in Kenya
weeding: This is getting rid of unwanted plants that grows alongside planted crops and compete with them for nutrients and water. They also harbour pest and diseases which might be harmful to plants and also reducing the yields.
Nutrition: nutrients helps plants in good growth and high yields there are various fertilizers types that can be added to plants. They include the basal,foliar through the macro and micro nutrient elements
Basal fertilizers; these are available in Argostores countrywide they include DAP,CAN,NPK and UREA.
Manure; these are nutrition added to soil to increase nutrients they include animal droppings and decomposed Waste from grass and plant waste.
Sheep goats and cows waste can be dried to make manure then added to soil to add nutrition decomposed waste can also be added to the soil to provide maximum nutrition to plants.
manure is widely used and available in Kenya with cheap price.
Irrigation:this is a common practice by farmers especially in areas that receive minimum or no rainfall at all. It has proved to be an effective method in crop production especially in semi-arid areas like Perkerra irrigation scheme in Marigat area Kenya. High-yielding crops are produced in this area with irrigation practice.
Types of irrigation method include.
- Drip irrigation
- Canal irrigation
- Overhead irrigation
Mulching: this is a practice of adding materials like grass Waste or husks on nursery beds or on top of root seedlings covered by soil after planting.
Mulching helps to conserve moisture in the soil as it reduces evaporation of water from the soil. It helps to suppress weeds . When mulching is done soil gets exposed to minimal sunlight hence discourages the growth of unwanted plants called weeds.
This practice is effective on nursery beds and newly transplanted crops.
Pruning: some plants develop Overgrown branches, buds and also yellow or withered leaves. It is important to pluck off these leaves and branches to make a clean plantation and also to reduce infection to other leaves which may occur with infected or withered leaves.