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The National Irrigation Authority has reintroduced sunflower at Bura Irrigation Scheme with 300 acres under contract farming between farmers and Bidco Africa.

World Concern, an NGO, is partnering with Bura by paying operation and maintenance fees and will mobilise farmers to return to the crop in this scheme.

Bidco has supplied certified seeds and will provide ready market at KSh33 per kilogramme of seeds.

The farmers will get irrigation water and extension services from the National Irrigation Authority, assuring them of two key requirements for juicy yield.

The estimated production cost per 1.5 acres is KSh22,200 with an assured yield of at least 1,200 kilogrammes. Sold at KSh33 a kilo, the revenue hits KSh39,600, giving a minimum gross margin of Sh17,400.

Sunflowers can grow in less fertile and semi-arid areas and is commonly intercropped with or used as a rotational crop or break crop for cereals. It grows in any altitude ranging from 0-2,600 metres above the sea level. In Kenya it is typically grown in regions such as Bungoma, Homa Bay, Kakamega, Meru, Kajiado and parts of North Rift and the Coast.

Sunflower grows well in soils suitable for maize and beans. The soil should be slightly acidic with pH values of between 6.0 and 7.5. It takes between 80 and 120 days from planting to harvest and can be planted three times in a year. Three kilogrammes of seeds plant an acre and the recommended variety is Fedha or H8998.

A ready crop should dry on or off the stem until the back of the head turns brown, the foliage turns yellow, the petals die, and the seeds look plump and loose. With scissors or pruners, the head is cut off the plant (about six inches below the flower head).

Its estimated yield per acre is between 1,000 and 1,200 kilogrammes of seeds that are sold at between KSh30- 35 per kilogramme, depending on quality.

Farmers, consumers, processors, retailers, financiers — name it— are part of its value chain.
Meals and clothes are part of this chain. The same way, irrigated agriculture does not escape this and covers crops that many may think are not irrigable, for example sunflower.

Sunflower is an edible oilseed crop that originated in the North American continent. It’s characterised by large flowering head, and leafy stem that can grow to diameters of 30cm and heights of three metres. It can self-pollinate but a farmer can keep bees on the same plot to create a new stream of revenue.

A value chain helps with understanding how production, buying and selling works.,/p>

In the sunflower value chain, seeds contain healthier fats than most natural oils, hence it is nutritionally more superior than other edible oils. Its oil is also used to make biofuel, animal feeds and rubber.

For a value chain to be successful, everyone involved must benefit and feel they are treated well.