From weed to cash crop: Amaranth
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CTA. 2008. From weed to cash crop: Amaranth. Agfax Resource Pack. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57162
Amaranth is widely regarded as an unwanted and stubborn weed, food for the poor during hungry periods. It is, however, a highly nutritious and tasty plant. Recently, the Kenya Seed Company has released an improved variety of amaranth which matures in just 2-3 months, has a long harvesting period and produces nutrient-packed grain as well as leaves. In western Kenya, the plant is now being deliberately intercropped with soybean, a practice which both increases fresh leaf yields and improves the quality of the soil.
From weed to cash crop: Amaranth Marion Nduta Ng?ang?a Moi University, Kenya Suggested introduction For a long time, amaranth has been considered as a stubborn weed in farmers? fields and food for the poor during hungry times. But now this neglected but nutritious plant is becoming an important cash crop. Because it is now a good earner, farmers want to know how they can get the best yields of amaranth. A study carried out in the western part of Kenya, has shown that planting amaranth with soybean, both increases fresh leaf yields and improves the quality of the soil. Talking with Pius Sawa at an international symposium on neglected plant species in Arusha, Tanzania, is Marion Nduta Ng?ang?a from Moi University in western Kenya. She begins by explaining that amaranth in Kenya has a long, long history? Track 7 In ?We introduce amaranth? Out ? the market price is quite fair.? Duration 3?11? Suggested closing announcement: That was Marion Nduta Ng?ang?a talking about the bright future for amaranth in Kenya with Pius Sawa. There are many other crops like amaranth that are still neglected, not only in Kenya but the world over. Contact details: Marion Nduta Ng'ang'a Moi University, Department of Seed, Crops and Horticultural Sciences, P.O. Box, 1125, Eldoret, Kenya Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Transcript Ng?ang?a We introduce amaranth because it has been there from time immemorial but a lot of people do not know the goodness of these vegetables. Sawa Tell me a little bit about amaranth, what are its qualities and what does it exactly do to a consumer? Ng?ang?a Amaranth is a very old crop and originally it existed in Mexico but it was used for human sacrifice rituals, so it was banned until around 1972, when it gained a lot of interest in America. Sawa It sounds interesting because amaranth in most parts of the country are counted as weeds? Ng?ang?a Now most people do not know about the grain amaranth, they only know about the weedy types that grow in cattle sheds when it rains and they do not take it seriously because they say it is consumed by the poor. But recent improvement has been has been done on this existing vegetable or weedy amaranth by the Kenya Seed Company and now we have a new variety called Amaranthus dubius that produces grains as well as leaves. Amaranth is a very important crop especially in the health field for women and children, and it matures very fast. Within two to three months you have your crop ready. And the most interesting bit is that the more you pick the leaves the more the plant generates these leaves. So you have a long harvesting period. Sawa So by intercropping amaranth with the soybeans, do you think you think are trying to put in some value so that people can appreciate its use? Ng?ang?a The reason as to why we are intercropping is because, being a new crop we are promoting, we cannot ask the farmers to stop planting other crops and plant amaranth. So the idea of intercropping is just to make sure the farmer has their ordinary crop as well as trying out our new amaranth variety. Apart from harvesting a single crop in a season, you will harvest two crops and you will harvest amaranth a month before soybean matures, and that will increase the income level in the household, thus reducing poverty. Sawa Do you like amaranth ? do you eat it? Ng?ang?a Of course I do eat it! Among all almost all indigenous vegetables, it is among the best because it is not bitter. It is very soft, especially for people who are ailing or have sores in the mouth. Sawa How do you like it cooked? Ng?ang?a It is very easy to cook, you just steam for five minutes, just like spinach. It doesn?t take a long time to cook, you can steam or boil or fry, just stir fry. Sawa So in summary you are saying amaranth is helpful in fighting poverty, in helping malnutrition. Ng?ang?a Yes of course amaranth is high value, it is dual purpose. You can pick leaves for a long period of time and eventually harvest grains. These leaves are highly nutritious, the grains are super nutritious and also the market price is quite fair. End of track.