Last week, we looked at the cost of producing maize on quarter acre. This week, we examine the harvesting and marketing of green maize as Farmer Moses' crop is due for harvest.
Green maize has low-fat complex carbohydrate with a high fibre content. It is used as an antioxidant.
The maize crop matures after three to four months, depending on the variety and the environmental conditions.
To determine if the maize is ready for harvest, stick a fingernail on the grain. If you get a milky sap coming out, the corn is ready for harvest.
If it is watery, this means the maize is yet to fully mature. Mature green maize has hard grains and the silk flowers at the top of cob turn black.
The green maize is harvested by plucking it off the stalk. Care should be taken while harvesting to prevent mechanical damage to the maize produce as this reduces the shelf-life.
The maize plant stays for up to two weeks after harvesting before it starts withering. With time, it dries off. The harvested green maize should be stored in cool and dry conditions.
Green maize can be roasted or boiled to be consumed as a snack. In some cases, it is used in preparing githeri, a mixture of beans and maize.
Thus, demand for green maize is high, opening up new markets for farmers. Inadequate rainfall and the unpredictability of the dry maize prices have led farmers to consider selling their crops as green maize. Farmers are also selling green maize since after harvesting, they can easily plough the land and plant a short-season crop.
Also, green maize minimises the post-harvest losses and it is less laborious as compared to dry maize.
During production of the green maize, start marketing the produce early to ensure there is ready market. This can be done through social media platforms such as WhatsApp or Facebook.
The farmer should also consider visiting vendors and restaurants in search of market. Some farmers also sell their green maize in the open air market using pick-up trucks. This can be very profitable if done well.
For Farmer Moses, buyers have been flocking his farm to buy the maize for roasting mainly.
He is selling a piece at between Sh20 and Sh30. In large-scale production, some farmers opt to sell the maize per acreage. For instance, in some places, an acre goes for an average of Sh100,000 but lucky farmers sell for up to Sh300,000 depending with the production, seasons and market demand.
The price also depends on the production. For instance, there are some maize varieties that produce two to three cobs while others produce one.
Normally, the maize stalks left are used as fodder for livestock. Thus, a farmer can earn more income by selling them to livestock farmers. In our next article, we will look at harvesting of dry maize.