Kenyan farmers are taking on sunflowers as a new crop hoping to boost their profits. As Grace Pascoe reports sunflowers' short harvesting period means farmers can grow the crop up to four times a year.
Not only do they brighten up the field, they also brightening up some farmers' finances. Profits from growing sunflowers in Kenya are higher than those from traditional crops like maize and tobacco. With the flowers short harvesting period of about three months allowing farmers to grow the crop four times a year. (SOUNDBITE) (Swahili) DAVID LUKUI, FARMER, SAYING: "I used to be a tobacco farmer. I abandoned tobacco and started growing hybrid sunflowers. I have planted one acre this season and I expect to harvest 15 bags. Each bag will have 50 kilos of seeds which, once processed, gives 16 litres of oil." Community farming groups are encouraging farmers to grow more lucrative crops. Even providing benefits like this manual press for members to process sunflower oil for home consumption and sale. Stephen Nyongesa is a member of one group Who hope to to grow their business and supply oil refineries with seeds in the future. (SOUNDBITE) (Swahili) STEPHEN NYONGESA, FARMER, SAYING: "In one day we can process one sack of seed which we package in 10 litres. This is a half litre bottle of oil which I sell for about 80 U.S. cents." Growing health consciousness in Kenya means sunflower oil has a ready market. With many choosing healthier oils with unsaturated fats.