Farmers along the coastal line in Kilifi have embraced green gram farming to earn an income.
The severe effects of climate change have led to unreliable rain in the areas and perennial maize crop failure, leading farmers to grow the drought-resistant crop as an agribusiness project because it matures quickly with little input.
The crops mature after two months.
The farmers are under the Shamba Project, which empowers smallholder farmers to become financially stable, improve their livelihoods and fight hunger.
They expressed their hopes that green gram farming would be best for agribusiness because they have ready markets locally and abroad.
The Shamba Project supports farmers with farm inputs and expertise for high yields. Farmers get fertiliser, seeds and pesticides after project managers assess the soil in their respective areas.
Mr Bandari Ndao, from Mbuyuni B village in Kilifi North sub-county, said maize farming boomed in the past but poor rainfall led him to switch to green gram farming.
“We used to grow maize and the yields were profitable. But it reached a point where the rains were not enough, leading to poor yields,” Mr Ndago said.
With changes in rainfall patterns, he moved to green gram farming.
But because he did not know how to farm the crop for high yields, he could intercrop maize and green grams, which affected production.
“Green grams will not produce when you intercrop with maize. So I decided to drop maize farming to focus on green grams for money and food. I am hopeful it will be a good business for many farmers,” he said.
The area, he said, gets little rainfall and this affects green grams on the farms.
He has one and a half acres of green grams and expects a good yield.
“I have already harvested three bags of 90kg, which if I sell I will get money to buy maize flour for my children,” he said.
A 90kg sack of green grams sells for about Sh9,000
Mr Ndago expects to earn about Sh45,000 from the green grams.
Mr Peter Mwalele, the quality assurance officer for Shamba Project, said many farmers in the county lack knowledge about green gram farming.
Shamba Project supports 120 farmers in Kilifi North and Ganze sub-counties to grow green grams.
Mr Mwalele said the Shamba project had linked farmers to a ready and direct market to protect them from exploitation by brokers.
“Green grams farming gives farmers in Kilifi an opportunity to do agri-business and improve their livelihood, and with the direct markets, they get value for their products,” he said.