News and knowhow for farmers

Kakamega organisation enlisting Mukombero growers


By George Munene

Through the Kaka­mega Nat­ural Forest Catch­ment Con­ser­va­tion Or­gan­iz­a­tion, KAN­FCCO, Mukombero farm­ers in Kaka­mega County have signed a deal to sup­ply 100 met­ric tonnes of the herbal root to Ger­many every year.

With a ready mar­ket se­cured, KAN­FCCO—which cur­rently has about 360 farm­ers in its books—is re­cruit­ing grow­ers of Mukombero (Mon­dia whitei) as well as other medi­cinal tuber plants like Maruku or lesser yam (Di­o­scorea es­cu­lenta).

“To archive the ex­port quant­it­ies re­quired by Ger­man com­pany Man Fields we will need to ex­pand our pool of farm­ers to at least 2000,” ex­plained James Ligare, KAN­FCCO’s sec­ret­ary. 

Foun­ded in 2018, KAN­FCCO is an um­brella body charged with the en­vir­on­mental con­ser­va­tion and equal be­ne­fit shar­ing of Kaka­mega’s ge­netic re­sources. To­gether with the Kaka­mega County gov­ern­ment, Min­istry of Ag­ri­cul­ture, and ward ad­min­is­trat­ors it has been man­dated to en­sure suf­fi­cient Mukombero is being pro­duced across the re­gion to meet this grow­ing ex­port de­mand.

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This is made even harder to achieve given the wild vine flour­ishes ag­ro­nom­ic­ally when grown in trop­ical cli­mates with suf­fi­cient rain­fall. Being a com­munity or­gan­isa­tion, KAN­FCCO also deals ex­clus­ively with farm­ers based in Kaka­mega.

The few farm­ers grow­ing the in­di­gen­ous aro­matic roots of Mukombero are a sat­is­fied lot:” Com­pared to maize and sug­ar­cane—crops I pre­vi­ously re­lied on—Mukombero has so far given me the best re­turn on my in­vest­ment,” elatedly said Al­fred Wafula, an early Mukombero farm­ing con­vert.

Thought of sorely as an aph­ro­dis­iac, the men­tion of Mukombero often in­vites aver­ted snick­ers among Kenyans. The woody climb­ing plant however has a myriad of other health be­ne­fits. Among them, as an im­mune booster, and sed­at­ive that al­le­vi­ates symp­toms of hy­per­ten­sion as well as in­som­nia. It also con­tains es­sen­tial nu­tri­ents such as Vit­am­ins A, D, E, and K and vital min­er­als like So­dium, Cal­cium, Zinc, and Iron.

It can be con­sumed after a quick wash as a fresh root or value-ad­ded powder, nat­ural wine, juice, or yogurt. 

Mukombero wine

All these vari­ants of Mukombero can be ac­cessed loc­ally through KAN­FCCO or its af­fil­i­ate out­lets. The body is also keen on adding value to the plant’s roots be­fore ex­port as this will en­sure farm­ers reap max­imum re­turns. 

The crop takes three years to ma­ture and with good ag­ro­nomic prac­tices is har­vestable every three months for up to five years.

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“Being a climber Mukombero is best grown in­ter­cropped with trees such as the Ses­bania ses­ban, a soft-wooded tree that grows rap­idly and is use­ful for fod­der and green ma­nure. The soil needs to be farmed to a fine tilth to en­cour­age tuber growth,” Ligare il­lu­min­ated. 

Farm­ers can pur­chase Mukombero for propaga­tion from KAN­FCCO at Sh 50 a seed­ling or Sh 5000 for one kilo­gram of seed.

KAN­FCCO: 0738944555/ 0728 738631/ 0721329061

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