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Green Pea Farming in Kenya

In an era where sustainable practices have become increasingly crucial, pursuing environmentally friendly solutions has extended its reach to the agricultural sector. One such endeavor that has gained significant momentum is green pea farming.

Green peas are a versatile and nutritious legume that has captured the attention of both farmers and consumers alike.

Despite climate change, soil degradation, and food security concerns, green pea farming offers hope for a more sustainable future. This article delves into the captivating world of green pea cultivation, highlighting its numerous benefits, sustainable farming techniques, and the transformative impact it can have on local communities and the global ecosystem.

Why is Green Pea Farming Important?

Green pea farming holds significant importance for several reasons:

Environmental Sustainability: Green pea farming is an environmentally friendly agricultural practice. As nitrogen-fixing legumes, green peas can form symbiotic relationships with soil bacteria, enriching the soil with nitrogen. 

This reduces the need for synthetic fertilizers, which helps mitigate the pollution of water bodies and the release of greenhouse gases. Green pea farming promotes sustainable and regenerative farming practices by improving soil fertility and minimizing chemical inputs.

Soil Health and Biodiversity: Green peas contribute to soil health and biodiversity conservation. Their deep root systems enhance soil structure, water infiltration, and nutrient cycling. They help prevent soil erosion, improve soil moisture retention, and create a favorable habitat for beneficial organisms.

 By diversifying crop rotations with green peas, farmers can break disease and pest cycles, reduce reliance on chemical pesticides, and promote a more balanced ecosystem.

Food Security and Nutrition: Green peas are a highly nutritious crop. They are rich in vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, and plant-based proteins. Incorporating green peas into diets helps address malnutrition and supports a healthy lifestyle. 

As a versatile and affordable food source, green peas contribute to global food security. Their cultivation provides a reliable and sustainable crop option for farmers, ensuring stable incomes and a consistent supply of nutritious food for communities.

Economic Opportunities and Rural Development: Green pea farming creates economic opportunities, particularly for small-scale farmers in rural areas. Farmers can diversify their income sources and reduce dependence on single crops by cultivating green peas. 

Green peas are often grown as cash crops, giving farmers the potential for higher returns. Moreover, the demand for sustainably grown and organic green peas presents opportunities for fair trade and premium markets, leading to increased profitability and improved livelihoods for farming communities.

Climate Change Mitigation: The cultivation of green peas contributes to climate change mitigation efforts. As leguminous plants, green peas can fix atmospheric nitrogen, reducing the need for synthetic nitrogen fertilizers that contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. 

By sequestering carbon in the soil and reducing the carbon footprint associated with conventional agriculture, green pea farming plays a role in combating climate change and promoting a more sustainable future.

Green Pea Growing Areas In Kenya

Kenya has several regions suitable for green pea farming. Some of these regions include:

Nakuru County: Located in the Rift Valley region, Nakuru County is renowned for its vibrant agricultural sector. The areas around Nakuru town, Molo, and Subukia are known for their green pea cultivation. This region’s cool temperatures, fertile soils, and ample rainfall create favorable conditions for green pea farming.

Nyandarua County: Situated in central Kenya, Nyandarua County is characterized by high altitudes and cool temperatures, making it ideal for green pea cultivation. Regions like Ol Kalou and Kinangop are prominent green pea-growing areas in this county.

Meru County: In eastern Kenya, Meru County has become a significant green pea farming hub. The fertile volcanic soils and moderate temperatures in areas such as Buuri and Imenti have contributed to the success of green pea cultivation in this region.

Uasin Gishu County: Uasin Gishu County, situated in the Rift Valley region, is known for its agricultural productivity. The areas around Eldoret, Turbo, and Moiben have seen increased green pea farming activities due to the availability of suitable soils, good rainfall patterns, and the expertise of local farmers.

Nyeri County: Nyeri County, located in central Kenya, is renowned for its favorable climate and rich agricultural heritage. The regions of Kieni and Tetu are known for their green pea production. The cool temperatures, well-distributed rainfall, and fertile soils make it an ideal location for green pea farming.

Laikipia County: Laikipia County, situated in the Rift Valley region, has emerged as a significant green pea-growing area. The parts of Nanyuki and Rumuruti benefit from their favorable climatic conditions, including moderate temperatures and adequate rainfall, which support successful green pea cultivation.

Step By Step Green Pea Farming Guide

The first step of green pea farming is choosing a suitable seed variety. In Kenya, several green pea varieties are known for their high yields and disease tolerance. Here are a few types that you can consider:

KS Mwenje: This variety is popular in Kenya and known for its high yields and disease resistance. It is tolerant of powdery mildew and bacterial blight, two common diseases affecting green peas. KS Mwenje produces large pods with many peas per pod, resulting in good yields.

Sugar Snap: Sugar Snap is a well-known variety that combines excellent taste and productivity.

It produces sweet, edible pods with round, plump peas inside. Sugar Snap is appreciated for its disease resistance, including resistance to powdery mildew and some mosaic virus strains.

Kamande: Kamande is a popular green pea variety in Kenya, known for its high yields.

It has good resistance to powdery mildew and is suitable for fresh consumption and processing. Kamande produces uniform pods with sweet and tender peas.

Kenya Beauty:

Kenya Beauty: This is a high-yielding variety that performs well under various growing conditions in Kenya.It has good disease resistance, particularly to powdery mildew.

Kenya Beauty produces medium-sized pods filled with delicious peas.

Sugar Bon: Sugar Bon is another variety known for its high yields and disease resistance.

It is resistant to powdery mildew and tolerates common pea diseases.

Sugar Bon produces sweet and tender peas in medium-sized pods.

Land Preparation

Land preparation is a crucial step in green pea farming, as it creates an optimal environment for the growth and survival of seeds. The process begins by clearing the land of any vegetation, rocks, debris, or weeds. This can be done manually or using machinery like a tractor or brush cutter.

After clearing the land, farmers should conduct a soil test to assess the nutrient levels, pH, and organic matter content. The results of the soil test help determine the soil fertility status and any necessary amendments required for optimal crop growth. Soil amendments, such as organic matter (compost or well-rotted manure) or inorganic fertilizers, should be added based on the soil test results. These amendments are incorporated into the soil during the tilling process.

Plowing and Tilling

Plowing or tilling the soil is essential to break up compacted ground, improve aeration, and facilitate root penetration. The earth is turned over to a depth of about 6-8 inches (15-20 cm) using a tractor or plow. This process helps create a loose and friable seedbed for the green pea seeds.

After tilling, the field should be leveled and smoothed to ensure uniform water distribution and prevent waterlogging or runoff. Large clods, stones, or debris hindering planting or irrigation should be removed.

Consider creating raised beds or ridges, particularly in areas with poor drainage. Raised beds help improve water drainage and prevent waterlogged conditions. The width and height of the beds may vary depending on the specific requirements of the green pea variety.

Weed Management 

Before planting, effective weed management is essential. Weeds can be controlled manually through weeding, herbicides (if permitted and appropriate), or organic weed control methods such as mulching with straw or dried leaves.

Install the necessary irrigation system, such as sprinklers, drip irrigation, or furrow irrigation, to ensure adequate water supply for the crop. Adequately designed and set up the irrigation system to provide consistent water throughout the growth cycle of the green peas.

Green Pea Sowing

Green pea sowing is a critical stage in the cultivation process and requires proper planning and execution to ensure successful germination and establishment of the crop. Here is some information on green pea sowing:

  1. Timing: Determine the appropriate timing for sowing green peas based on your specific region and climate conditions. Green peas are cool-season crops and prefer temperatures between 55°F and 75°F (13°C and 24°C). Sow the seeds when the soil has warmed up sufficiently, and the risk of frost has passed.
  1. Seed Spacing: Green pea seeds should be sown with adequate spacing to allow proper growth and development of the plants. Generally, maintain a spacing of about 2-3 inches (5-8 cm) between seeds in a row. Rows should be spaced approximately 18-24 inches (45-60 cm) apart. Adjust the spacing based on the recommended guidelines provided by your agronomist.
  1. Planting Depth: Green pea seeds should be planted at a suitable depth to ensure proper germination and emergence. The general rule of thumb is to plant the seeds at a depth of about 1-2 inches (2.5-5 cm). Planting too shallow may result in the drying out of sources while growing too deep can hinder seedling emergence.
  1. Planting Method: Green pea seeds can be sown directly into the prepared soil. There are two standard methods for sowing green peas:
  1. Row Planting: Create furrows or shallow trenches along the rows using a hoe or a furrower attachment on a tractor. Drop the seeds into the folds and cover them with soil at the desired spacing.
  1. Broadcast Planting: If using a broadcast method, scatter the seeds evenly across the prepared soil. Rake or lightly harrow the ground afterward to cover the bases with a thin layer of soil.
  1. Seeding Rate: The seeding rate for green peas depends on variety, soil fertility, and desired plant population. Generally, a seeding rate of 70-90 pounds per acre (78-101 kg/ha) is recommended. Adjust the seeding speed based on the specific recommendations provided by the seed supplier or local agricultural experts.
  1. Fertilizer Placement: Some farmers prefer placing fertilizer in the furrow or trench before sowing the seeds. This allows emerging seedlings to have early access to nutrients. However, following proper fertilizer recommendations based on soil tests and the specific nutrient requirements of green peas is crucial.
  1. Watering: After sowing the seeds, provide adequate irrigation to ensure soil moisture for germination. Green peas require consistent water during the germination and early growth stages. Avoid overwatering, as excessive moisture can lead to seed rot or fungal diseases.
  1. Trellising: Green pea plants are climbers, and some varieties require support for proper growth. Install trellises or stakes in the field before sowing the seeds so the plants have support as they grow. This helps keep the plants upright, facilitates air circulation, and makes harvesting easier.

Weeds and Pest Management

Weed and pest management are crucial for green pea farming. Here are some key points:

Weed Management:

  • Clear the field of existing weeds before planting.
  • Apply organic mulch to suppress weed growth.
  • Use manual or mechanical cultivation methods to control weeds.
  • Consider selective and judicious use of herbicides, following recommended guidelines.

Pest Management:

  • Monitor the crop regularly for signs of pests.
  • Adopt an integrated pest management (IPM) approach.
  • Encourage beneficial insects and biological control methods.
  • Use targeted pesticide application when necessary, following recommended guidelines.
  • Practice crop rotation and maintain field sanitation.

Harvesting and Storage

Harvesting green peas at the right time and implementing proper post-harvest practices are essential for maintaining their quality and increasing shelf life. Here’s some information on harvesting and preserving green peas:

Harvesting Time: Green peas should be harvested when the pods are fully developed but the peas inside are still tender. The ideal harvesting time varies depending on the variety, but it is generally when the pods have reached their full size and have a bright green color. Avoid harvesting too early or late, as this can result in immature or starchy peas.

Harvesting Method: Gently pick or snap the pods from the plants by hand. Avoid pulling or yanking the pods, as this can damage the plants or cause the pods to split open.

Handling and Storage: Handle the harvested green peas carefully to avoid bruising or damage. Immediately after harvest, remove the peas from the pods. Sort and clean the peas, removing any damaged or discolored ones. Discard any pods that are overmature or have started to dry out.

Cooling: Green peas are perishable and can deteriorate rapidly if not cooled promptly after harvest. Rapidly cool the peas by placing them in shaded areas or using forced-air cooling techniques. This helps preserve their quality and prolong shelf life.

Storage Conditions: Green peas are best stored in a calm, humid environment to maintain freshness. Place the cleaned peas in perforated plastic bags or containers and store them in a refrigerator or cool room with temperatures around 32°F to 40°F (0°C to 4°C). Maintain around 90-95% high humidity levels to prevent drying out.

Freezing: Freezing is an excellent method to extend the shelf life of green peas. Blanch the peas by briefly immersing them in boiling water, then cool them quickly in ice water. Drain and package the blanched peas in airtight freezer bags or containers. Store them in the freezer at 0°F (-18°C) or below for long-term storage.

Green Pea farming is a lucrative activity when done right. Green pea farmers are advised to seek the services of qualified extension officers to guide them throughout the journey.


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