From carpentry to peas farming & reaping the benefits

Since mid 1990s, Kenya peas have been making an escalating climb into popularity. This is as result of farmers deciding to widen up, little by little, to growing more and more of these edible pod peas.
In Kenya, peas are used in several dishes and recipes. They are rich with several nutritional benefits such as vitamin A, C, and K. Vitamin A helps in growth and vision while vitamin C helps in fighting infections. Vitamin K on the other hand helps in the formation of strong bones. They are also rich in foliage which is required by pregnant women to help prevent neural tube defects in developing fetuses.
David Mureithi is one farmer who has been cultivating peas since 2002 when he quit his carpentry work due to dwindling returns from his workshop. “I used to cultivate potatoes but the price dropped significantly due to entrance of middle men who sourced them from the fields at a lower price,” he averred.
His potatoes were not doing good. He later came to realize that the potato seeds he was planting from previous harvest carried with them diseases and their yielding capacity decreased with every harvest. For example a tuber that produced six potatoes in the first harvest, would produce three in the next.
Currently, the farmer is cashing in by growing two varieties of peas in Mutamaiyu village, Nyandarua County: snow peas and Sugar snaps.
Garden peas is another variety that he used to cultivate but ditched it due to its susceptibility to many pest and diseases as well as lack of market. Snow peas and sugar peas produce best yields in cool and moist growing conditions.
“Snow and sugar snaps are fetching seventy five shillings a kilogram in the market and they are ready for harvesting in three and half months. Once ready, we harvest them for a period of one and a half months picking them twice per week,” he elucidated.
“I usually harvest between 60 to 70 kilograms of peas per picking. This season due to adverse weather condition, I didn’t harvest much as i do,” he continued to say.
Mureithi has leased two acres of land where he is cultivating his peas. He avers that the access of Frigoken Company into the region has seen more farmers venture into peas farming as they provide seeds, fertilizers and then buys the produce. There are several collection centers in the villages where farmers assemble their produce for collection by the company.
Land preparation for peas farming entails harrowing, terracing to obtain a fine tilth and also achieving a well-drained soil which is followed by planting. He spaces at a distance of three centimeters between the crop.
After the peas have sprouted, weeding is required whereby for him he sources for laborers from the locals. Afterwards, he applies fertilizer of both Phosphorus and Potassium. Phosphorus is important for early root development and assists with flowering and fruiting while Potassium is essential for plant vigor, growth and resistance against disease.
When tendrils begin to elongate, this is when he begins trellising. The tendrils are then coiled on the sticks to climb and twists in a clockwise manner. He also retrains the suckers that develop at the base of the bed.
“I regularly do scouting of pests such as thrips, once I notice them I spray. I also ensure the land is free of weeds as they act as an alternate host for pests and compete with the plants for nutrients, light and space, ‘’ Mureithi elucidated.
He has benefited from peas farming for he is able to pay school fees for his children and generally his life style has improved. He however clarifies that farming requires resilience, passion and patience; after all you want to get the best.

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