How to start pyrethrum farming

Pyrethrum Farming
Pyrethrum Farming in Kenya

Pyrethrum, also known as chrysanthemum cineraria folium, is a flowering plant that is native to southwestern Asia and Europe. The plant produces flowers that contain a natural insecticide known as pyrethrin, which has been used for centuries to repel and kill insects.

In addition to its insecticidal properties, pyrethrum has also been found to have medicinal benefits. It has been used to treat a variety of ailments, including fever, headaches, and respiratory infections.

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Pyrethrin is a potent insecticide that is highly effective against a wide range of insects, including mosquitoes, flies, fleas, ticks, and lice. It works by attacking the nervous system of insects, paralyzing them and eventually causing their death. Unlike many synthetic insecticides, pyrethrin breaks down quickly in the environment and does not persist in the soil or water.

Factors to consider when starting pyrethrum farming

Research and Planning

Before starting a pyrethrum farm, it is important to conduct research and develop a detailed plan. This includes identifying the suitable location for the farm, understanding the market demand and competition, as well as learning about the necessary inputs, such as seeds, fertilizers, and equipment.

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Land Preparation

Once you have identified the location for your pyrethrum farm, it is time to prepare the land. This involves clearing the land, removing any unwanted vegetation, and preparing the soil for planting. You can use traditional methods such as hoeing or modern methods such as plowing or tilling.

Seed Selection and Planting

Seed selection is crucial in pyrethrum farming. Choose high-quality seeds that are adapted to your local climate and soil conditions. Pyrethrum seeds are typically sown in nurseries and transplanted into the main field after about six weeks. Planting is done in rows spaced at least 30 centimeters apart, with a plant-to-plant spacing of around 15 centimeters.

Irrigation and Fertilization

Pyrethrum plants require adequate moisture to grow and produce high-quality flowers. Depending on the rainfall pattern of your location, you may need to install an irrigation system. Soil testing can help determine the nutrients present in the soil and the amount of fertilizer needed for optimal growth.

Pest and Disease Management

Pests and diseases can significantly reduce pyrethrum yields. To prevent this, it is important to implement a pest and disease management plan. This can include practices such as crop rotation, biological control, and chemical control.

Harvesting and Post-Harvest Handling

Pyrethrum plants are typically harvested when the flowers have matured, and the petals have started to turn brown. The flowers are then carefully handpicked and taken to the processing facility. It is important to handle the flowers carefully to avoid damage, which can reduce the quality of the pyrethrum extract.

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Value Addition in Pyrethrum Farming

Value addition involves processing pyrethrum flowers into various products, such as insecticides. By processing the flowers, you can increase the value of your crop and generate additional income.

Pyrethrum is a perennial plant that grows up to three feet tall and produces daisy-like flowers in shades of pink, red, and white. The flowers are harvested when they are fully mature, and the pyrethrin is extracted from the flower heads.