Croton trees or ‘Mukinduri’ as is commonly known in Kikuyu land are trees that seem to grow everywhere in Kenya but many have neglected the trees not knowing their nuts can transform livelihoods.
Kenyans have been seeing the trees as of no importance apart from their use as firewood and provision of shade.
The nuts they produce has been going to waste not until a company by the Name Eco Fuels Kenya came in and after research established that he nuts can be used to produce oil for energy and co-products, such as animal feed and organic fertilizer.
Ms Lennah Wangari-an agronomist with Eco Fuels Kenya says croton is an opportunity for many farmers at grass root level.
Speaking on Monday in Kiambogo, Gilgil Sub County in Nakuru County during training for groups of farmers in the area, she said there is ready market for croton nuts in the country coming from companies such as Eco Fuels Kenya that produce organic diesel, leather, soaps and organic fertilizer.
She urged farmers to focus on growing Croton trees which will help them transform their livelihoods.
“As Eco Fuels Kenya we are buying the croton nuts from farmers and then we produce organic fertilizer which can be used to help address the soil challenges that has been occasioned by excessive chemicals. We therefore urge farmers to focus on croton trees growing” she said.
According to Ms Wangari, the organic fertilizer is the only solution to farmers who have been facing challenges with soils that has been messed up with chemicals.
She says the fertilizer is environment friendly and that as Eco Fuels they will continue to train farmers on the need to embrace organic farming in order to save the soil.
“We call on government and other stakeholders to join hands in this so that we can restore the soil fertility” said Ms Wangari.
Eco Fuels Kenya (also known as EFK Group) based in based in Naromoru, in Nanyuki have been purchasing the croton nuts from various farmers across the country with a kilo of seed going for Ksh10.
It should be noted that croton nuts are the source of oil that can power generators, water pumps and other internal combustion engines and, with processing, can be used in place of diesel fuel in cars and trucks.
The processing of the nuts at Eco Fuels Kenya involves mainly pressing the nuts to produce diesel fuel which is sold for Ksh70 per litre and is used to power generators and other low RPM engines.
The remaining husks, Ms Wangari says are used to make organic fertilizer which is sold to organic farmers.
And with the harsh economic times in Kenya, then this is a venture that every organic farmer should focus on to transform their lives.
Ms Catherine Chege-a farmer and a member of Gitumba Ushirikiano Self Help Group in Kiambogo, Gilgil sub County of Nakuru County says they will be able to advance in matters organic farming after they received training from Eco Fuels Kenya and also the Seed savers Network.
“We are very grateful and the knowledge we have gained we shall put it into our farming activities” she said.
Similar sentiments echoed by Mr. Francis Ngiri who has been reaping the economical benefits of Croton trees.
Ngiri has been collecting the croton nuts and selling them to Eco Fuels Kenya Company for the production of fuels and organic fertilizer.
To him, this is a venture he is not leaving soon and he is encouraging other farmers to focus on the same and also engage in organic farming in order to restore soil.
On matters food secuirity, Mr.Ngiri is optimistic that if organic farmers can be encouraged to save their indigenous seeds then there will be plenty and Kenya will no longer rely on aid from other nations.
“The croton nuts have really helped as I can sell them and get my money. As indigenous farmer I would like also to encourage farmers to embrace the organic fertilizers and also save the indigenous seeds” said Mr.Ngiri.
PHOTO/Pristone Mambili:Ms Catherine Wangari-a farmer and a member of Gituamba Women Self Help Group addressing media at Kiambogo,in Gilgil sub county.