Farmers in western Kenya are ditching traditional crops like maize and tobacco in favour of sunflower farming which they claim is more profitable.
Given that Sunflowers have a short period to harvest, just about three months, farmers have a chance to grow the crop four times a year and still find a ready market.
David Lukui takes in this seasons’ sunflower crop at his farm. With their size and color, these flowers call to mind an air of earthy summer freshness.
Lukui is part of a community based group that is encouraging farmers to invest in more lucrative crops like sunflowers.
Sunflowers not only mature faster than other cash crops but they give higher yields too.
Farmers are finding sunflower farming a good alternative, especially the hybrid varieties which are drought resistant.
Growing health consciousness among consumers has seen the sunflower market grow in recent years. Edible oil companies are moving in for the kill as well.
These companies contract thousands of farmers in various parts of the country to grow sunflower seeds for processing.
Sunflowers are also gaining popularity among farmers group, which buy seeds in bulk and process them for sale. The profits made are then shared among group members.
The popularity of Sunflowers is slowly gaining traction with farmers in Kenya. No surprises though because sunflower oil is one of the major edible vegetable oils consumed around the world.
Also it doesn’t hurt that the the oil can not only be used for culinary purposes, it is also an important component in the manufacture of animal feeds, soaps and cosmetics.