Sunflower sparks a revolution of sorts against conventional crops in Mandera-Irrigation

Sunflower sparks a revolution of sorts against conventional crops in Mandera-Irrigation

By Malachi Motano

Pastoralists cum farmers in the heat soaked Rhamu and the neighbouring villages in Mandera County Ventures into all manner of crop farming with sunflower lately sparking a revolution of sorts against conventional crops by its sheer lucrativeness thanks to river Daua.

“I have abandoned virtually all other crops to concentrate on sunflower which we intercrop with a strain of creeping cowpeas that not only enriches the soil with nitrogen, but covers the ground thereby protecting it against the heat in the area. Foliar laden peas help preserve moisture while providing protein-rich fodder for the livestock,” says farmer Mohamed Adan.

The father of ten started growing sunflower only in a quarter of an acre but harvests heavily.

“From the quarter acre piece of land, I harvest as much as 450 kilograms of the crop. I am now looking forward to increasing my acreage under sunflower because of its resilience and profitability. Sunflower oil is in high demand for its perceived medicinal value,” he says.

Value addition

 Adan is a member of Gumri farmers Group. Together with his colleagues press oil from the seeds that they sell at sh450 per kilogram and confesses of a ready market.

“People come looking for the oil. We do not go looking for a market. Nothing goes to waste from sunflower because even the husks we mix with other fodder and fed to livestock,” he says.

Adan says they are able to produce ‘virgin’ oil because nothing is added, that just about five kilograms of seeds is enough to produce one litre of oil.


“The plant become ready for harvesting when the heads start turning brown after bloom. The head is cut from the plant about three inches from the flower and dried in the sun before threshing to remove the seeds that are further dried to the right moisture content,” Adan explains.


According to Mandera County Chief Executive Committee (CEC) member for Agriculture Ms. Johora Mohamed Abdi, more farmers in irrigation schemes along the Daua River are taking up oil crop farming because of the ready market.

She says, “Sunflower and sim-sim are fast replacing traditional crops such as maize and sorghum because they spin money fast thereby enabling farmers to meet their obligations such as school fees.” she says.

Ms. Johora says that Rhamu is among the areas within Mandera with the right temperatures and soils for sunflower that thrives best in slightly acidic soils. It is only a matter of time before increased production warrants the putting up of an oil milling factory within the County to ensure quality.


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