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Maize is probably synonymous with the Galana Kulalu Food Security Project (GKFSP). Perhaps this is because the crop does exceptionally well at the model farm.

However, there is a 50-acre demonstration farm for crop diversification, 40 acres (80 percent) of which are set aside for coconut.

The main coconut variety at GKFSP is the African Yellow Dwarf, which is shorter, matures faster and produces higher yield. The coconut tree grows under conditions of 27°C-36°C and in a well distributed rainfall pattern or irrigation of 200mm per day. Coconut seedlings are spaced 7m x 7m with a hole dug at one metre. An acre can hold up to 81 seedlings.

Preceding planting, the pits are filled up with top soil and powdered manure up to a depth of two feet. The seedlings are then planted and filled up with soil to avoid water stagnation.</p.

About 20-30kg of organic and compost manure are applied annually to guarantee high productivity while the method of irrigation is the drip system with a discharge of 1.6 litres per hour to that helps in water and energy conservation.

Soil moisture often limits coconut production and irrigation requirement varies, depending on the soil type and climatic conditions.

The rhinoceros beetle, the red palm weevil and the black headed caterpillar are its major insect pests. The Authority’s team of researchers has devised control measures, including using pheromone traps for attracting weevils and killing them, practising clean cultivation by cutting and disposing of the damaged and decaying coconut stumps and also avoiding slashing trunks as the pests lay eggs on the cut parts.

The African Yellow Dwarf takes three years to mature and produces about 240kg per tree translating to 19,440kg per acre and KSh194,400 at KSh10 per kilo.

Did you know? Coconut got its name from European explorers who named it ‘coco,’ meaning hobgoblin, because the three dark spots on the shell resemble a monkey’s face.