This is the Complete Millet farming guide to enable you start and grow your millet for domestic or commercial purposes. Millets are a group of highly variable small-seeded grasses, widely grown around the world as cereal crops or grains for fodder and human food. Most species generally referred to as millets belong to the tribe Paniceae, but some millets also belong to various other taxa. Before venturing into millet farming in Kenya or anywhere there are a variety of questions you have asked yourselves, we intend to guide you on millet farming and answer all these questions here.
- How long does it take for millet to grow and mature?
- Which is the best fertilizer for millet?
- How to grow millet in Kenya?
- How profitable is millet farming in Kenya
- How long does it take for millet seedlings to germinate?
- Millet market in Kenya
- Millet pest and diseases
- How much millet do you plant per acre
HOW TO GROW MILLET IN KENYA
Millet is very adaptable to a wide range of environmental and climatic conditions, it thrives at higher elevations than most other tropical cereals and tolerates salinity better than most cereals. Millet requires medium rainfall, about 750-900mm, an annual temperature range of 15- 28°C and also requires to be grown in a fertile, well-draining sandy loam soil with a pH between 5-8. low rainfall and low relative humidity during millet seed ripening and maturation are best for regeneration Nearly every household in Kenya consume millet and its products as a cereal hence raising the market demand for this kind of cereal. There are various varieties of millet cereals grown in Kenya listed below
- P224 tall with uniform plant height
- U-15, Gulu
- Katumani takes 3 months to mature
Planting and sowing of millet is usually done by broadcasting or planting the seeds in furrows. The seedbed or the area to plant millet should be thoroughly prepared to a fine tilth because the seeds are very tiny. Millet seeds are sown to a depth of 2.5 cm allowing 25 cm between rows and 10–12 cm between plants. Apply 125kg NPK per hectare during planting, top dress with 125kg CAN per hectare if soil is poor in terms of fertility. Farmyard manure can also be used in planting millet. Millet should be planted as early as possible in the season on the onset of rains. The earlier it is sown the higher the yields. Millet can be planted as a pure stand or intercropped with other crops like maize, beans, and cowpeas, among others. Germination of millet occurs within a week after sowing.
After planting your millet regulars farm practices continues which include;
FARM PRACTICES FOR MILLET FARMING
Millet should be thinned when seedlings are about 2–3 weeks old, leaving 10 cm spacing between the millet plants and a minimum of 40 plants per accession. This ensures proper air circulation within the crop, promoting sufficient performance.
If the soil is not moist enough, (which could be due to inadequate rainfall), supplemental watering should be done. At flowering stage, enough moisture for the millet should be ensured.
Weeding of millet is done by uprooting unwanted plants that grows with the millet to ensure that pest and diseases are prevented and also competition for nutrients with plants are reduced and discouraged.
MILLET PESTS AND DISEASES
Spotted stem borer, African army worm, Millet head miner:
Crazy top downy mildew, Long smut, Ergot:
Pests and diseases affecting millet are controlled by various ways for example using suitable pesticides.
HARVESTING OF MILLET
Harvesting of millet done 2-4 months depending on variety, different varieties of millet have different maturity periods, thresh the grains and dry them well to a moisture content of around 12%. Well dried and dressed grains can be stored for at least 5 years after harvesting.
The millet is usually harvested by hand by cutting the seed heads or by cutting the entire plant. For large scale farming, combine harvesters are used.
High demand for millet crops has provided ready market for this kind of cereal. Millet can be sold in;
- Open air market
- Hotels and schools
- Groceries and supermarket
- Consumers market
- Processing factories
The suitable seeding rate for millet is 15 to 20 lbs. per acre when broadcast and 8 to 10 lbs per acre when drilled. 1 kilogram is equal to 2.20462262 pounds, which is the conversion factor from kilograms to pounds.