sesame, seeds, sesame seeds

Simsim Farming in Kenya: A Comprehensive Guide.

In Kenya, simsim (also known as sesame) is an important crop that has both economic and nutritional benefits. This drought-resistant crop can be grown in different parts of the country and has become a source of income for many farmers. Additionally, simsim seeds are nutrient-dense, providing essential vitamins and minerals needed for a healthy diet.

Contents

Economic Benefits

Simsim is one of the top oilseed crops in the world, with global production exceeding 5 million metric tons annually. In Kenya, simsim is mainly grown for its oil content, which is used in the food industry to produce cooking oil and margarine.

The demand for simsim oil has been on the rise due to its health benefits compared to other oils such as palm or soybean oil. Simsim farming also generates employment opportunities for small-scale farmers and creates a market for agricultural inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides.

Nutritional Benefits

Simsim seeds are rich in protein (25%) and contain essential minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc among others. They also have antioxidants properties that help reduce oxidative stress in the body.

The use of simsim seeds as a food ingredient has been on the rise due to its high nutritional value. The seeds can be roasted or ground into paste or flour used in baking bread and pastries.

The paste can also be used to make tahini sauce commonly used in hummus making. The cultivation of simsim plants not only provides economic benefits but also helps improve nutrition security by providing an alternative source of nutrients needed by our bodies.

Climate and Soil Requirements

Optimal Temperature, Rainfall, and Soil Conditions for Growing Simsim

Simsim is a crop that does well in hot and dry areas. The optimal temperature for growing simsim ranges from 20-30°C.

The crop can also tolerate temperatures exceeding 35°C, but this may affect its growth rate. Simsim requires about 400-600mm of rainfall annually.

When planting simsim, it is important to ensure that the soil is well-draining to avoid waterlogging as this can lead to root rot disease. Sandy loam soils are best suited for simsim farming.

Best Time to Plant Simsim

The ideal time to plant simsim in Kenya is during the rainy season when there is enough moisture in the soil for germination and growth of the plant. In most parts of Kenya, this falls between March-June or September-November depending on the region and climate conditions. Planting during these periods ensures that the seedlings have enough time to mature before the onset of drought or harsh weather conditions.

Farmers should also take note of their specific location’s climate patterns when determining planting times as they can vary from area to area. Overall, understanding temperature requirements, rainfall patterns and soil condition are essential factors when growing simsim in Kenya – it has a unique environmental profile compared to other crops grown in this region.

Land Preparation and Planting

Clearing the land and preparing the soil for planting

Before planting simsim, it is important to clear the land of any weeds or other debris that may interfere with growth. This can be done manually or with a tractor. Once cleared, the soil should be tilled to a depth of at least 15 centimeters to loosen up any compacted areas.

After tilling, it is recommended to add organic matter such as compost or manure to improve soil fertility and structure. This will allow for better water retention and nutrient uptake by the plants.

Seed selection and spacing

Choosing the right seed variety is crucial for successful simsim cultivation. It is best to select seeds that are adapted to local conditions, disease-resistant, and high-yielding.

Seeds that are certified by Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) are also recommended. When it comes to spacing, the recommended distance between rows should be 30-40 cm while seeds in a row should be spaced around 15-20cm apart.

Planting methods (direct seeding or transplanting)

There are two main methods of planting simsim: direct seeding or transplanting. Direct seeding involves sowing seeds directly into the soil while transplanting involves starting seeds in a nursery bed before later transferring them into the field.

Direct seeding is more common in Kenya due to its relative ease and cost-effectiveness. Transplanting requires more space for establishing nursery beds before moving seedlings into fields which can make it costlier but gives better results overall.

Fertilization and Irrigation

Types of fertilizers suitable for simsim

To ensure that your simsim plants grow healthy and produce high yields, it is important to provide them with the right fertilizers. The two types of fertilizers commonly used in simsim farming are organic and inorganic fertilizers. Organic fertilizers such as manure, compost, and poultry droppings are readily available in most farms.

These types of fertilizers contain essential nutrients that help to improve soil fertility, texture, and structure. Inorganic fertilizers such as nitrogenous (N), phosphorous (P), potassium (K) are also ideal for use in simsim farming.

They aid plant growth by providing essential nutrients the soil may be lacking. It’s advisable to conduct a soil test so you can know what specific type of fertilizer your soil needs.

Proper irrigation techniques

Water is critical for the growth and development of simsim plants; thus, adequate irrigation should be provided throughout the growing period. The amount of water needed by the plants varies depending on factors like temperature, humidity levels, rainfall patterns among others; hence farmers should monitor these conditions regularly. Drip irrigation systems are very efficient when it comes to irrigating crops like simsim as they conserve water while delivering it directly to the roots where it’s needed most.

Additionally, this method reduces disease incidences since leaves remain dry thus reducing chances of fungal infection. Farmers should avoid overwatering their crops since this may lead to root rot which can cause a significant reduction in yields or even plant death if not controlled early enough.

Pest Management

Common Pests that Attack Simsim Plants

Simsim plants are susceptible to various pests that can cause significant damage and reduce yields. The most common pests that attack simsim plants include aphids, whiteflies, thrips, mites, and stem borers. Aphids are tiny insects that suck the sap from the plant’s leaves, causing them to curl and deform.

Whiteflies are small, winged insects that also feed on the sap of simsim plants and can transmit diseases. Thrips are slender insects with fringed wings that damage the flowers of simsim plants by sucking the sap and leaving a silvery white scar.

Mites feed on the lower surface of leaves, causing them to yellow and fall off prematurely. Stem borers tunnel into stems of young simsim plants leading to their death.

Natural Pest Control Methods

There are various natural ways to control pests without using harmful chemicals. One is crop rotation where you avoid planting simsim in areas where it was grown in previous seasons which prevents buildup of pest populations in soil or plant residues left after harvest Another way is through intercropping with legumes such as cowpeas or beans which improves soil fertility while repelling pests due to their strong scent.

Another effective method is companion planting; planting herbs like basil or marigold around your simsim field helps repel some pests with their strong scent while attracting beneficial insects like ladybugs which prey on aphids as well as pollinators like bees which boost flowering resulting into better seed yields. Another natural pest control technique is using organic pesticides derived from botanicals such as neem oil or pyrethrum because they have low toxicity levels compared to synthetic pesticides but still kill pests effectively without harming beneficial organisms.

Overall, there are several ways you can manage pests when growing simsim without resorting to harmful chemicals that affect the environment and human health. By utilizing these natural methods, you can grow healthy crops while conserving the ecosystem.

Harvesting and Post-Harvest Handling

Signs that indicate when it is time to harvest simsim

After months of dedicated care and attention, the simsim crop will finally be ready for harvesting. But how do you know when to start reaping the benefits? The first sign is the color of the leaves – they should turn yellow and fall off.

This indicates that the seeds are mature enough to be harvested. Another way to check is by shaking the plants – if you hear a rattling sound, it means that most of the seeds are loose and ready for harvesting.

Proper harvesting techniques to avoid seed loss or damage

When it comes to harvesting simsim, patience is key. You don’t want to rush into it as you may end up losing some of your precious seeds in the process. To avoid this, carefully cut down each plant at its base using a sharp sickle or blade.

It’s important not to shake or pull on the plant as this can cause seed loss or damage. After cutting down all your plants, lay them out on a clean surface in a well-ventilated area.

Drying, threshing, cleaning, storing, and packaging of harvested seeds

Once you’ve harvested your simsim crop successfully without any seed loss or damage, it’s now time for post-harvest handling tasks such as drying, threshing, cleaning, storing and packaging your precious harvest. The first step is drying – spread out your harvested plants evenly in a sunny area where there’s good air circulation until they’re completely dry.

Once dry thresh by beating them with sticks in order to separate chaff from seeds then use sieves and winnowers get rid of chaff completely before storing. In regards to storage always store seeds in dry conditions free from moisture since they can easily get spoiled by moisture.

You can store them in air tight bags or containers to avoid moisture from getting in. Packaging is the last yet important part of post-harvest handling since it ensures the product gets to its market destination safely.

The packaging material used should be airtight to protect the seeds from moisture and other contaminants. Well packaged simsim will maintain its quality and attract more customers which will translate into higher profits for you!

Marketing Simsim Seeds

After successfully growing and harvesting your simsim crop, the next step is to market your seeds. There are several potential buyers and markets for simsim seeds in Kenya.

One option is to sell directly to local farmers who are looking to grow their own simsim crops. This can be done through word of mouth or by setting up a stall at a local market.

Another option is to sell to larger agricultural companies that buy in bulk for processing and exporting. These companies usually have specific requirements for seed quality, so it’s important to ensure that your product meets those standards before selling.

Identifying potential buyers or markets for the seeds

To identify potential buyers or markets for your simsim seeds, research the different agricultural companies operating in Kenya and find out which ones deal with sesame seeds. You can also attend agricultural expos or trade fairs where you can meet potential buyers and showcase your product. You may also consider joining farmer groups or cooperatives which can help you access wider markets and negotiate better prices for your products.

Tips on how to prepare your product for sale

To prepare your simsim seeds for sale, ensure that they are of high quality by removing any damaged or discolored seeds. This can be achieved by sorting them manually or using a machine such as a gravity separator.

Clean the seeds thoroughly by removing all dirt, debris, and other foreign materials before packaging them into bags of different sizes depending on their intended use. Label each bag with information about the variety of simsim inside, date of harvest, and any special requirements such as organic certification.

Selling directly off-farm requires creating an attractive display that communicates effectively what you have available; using signs which clearly indicate pricing (i.e., “per lb.”), variety, and other information about your product can be a useful tool in selling your simsim crop. By following these tips, you can successfully market and sell your simsim seeds to various buyers in Kenya and maximize your profits from this valuable crop.

Conclusion

Growing simsim in Kenya can be a profitable venture for farmers who invest their time and effort into proper land preparation, seed selection, fertilization, irrigation, pest management, harvesting, and post-harvest handling. The ideal temperature for growing simsim ranges from 20-30°C with an annual rainfall of 450-700mm.

Simsim grows best in well-drained soils with a pH range of 5.5-8.0. The land should be cleared and plowed before planting season which typically starts between March to April or September to October depending on the region.

Seed selection is important; use certified seeds only and plant them at a spacing of 30cm x 10cm for direct seeding or at 45cm x15cm if transplanting. Fertilize your crops well using organic manure like farmyard manure or composted crop residues and apply nitrogenous fertilizers such as calcium ammonium nitrate at appropriate intervals to boost growth.

Proper irrigation techniques are critical for the growth of your plants; waterlogging should be avoided by ensuring proper water drainage systems. Pests that commonly attack simsim include aphids, stem borers, cutworms among others but can be managed using natural methods like intercropping with other plants that repel pests like coriander or crop rotation.

Harvest your simsim once it turns yellowish-brown and starts shedding leaves before drying it in small batches under shade to preserve its quality. Threshing can be done by beating the dried plants against a hard surface while cleaning involves sorting out shriveled seeds from good ones.

Identify potential buyers/market for your product by contacting local traders in your area or advertising online through social media platforms like Facebook/LinkedIn groups dedicated to farming communities. Growing simsim can offer many benefits for farmers in Kenya looking to diversify their crops and generate income.

By following these tips, farmers can increase their chances of producing a high-quality crop that can be sold for a good price in local markets or exported to other countries. We hope that this guide has been informative and helpful, and we wish you the best of luck in your simsim growing endeavors!

3 Comments

  1. Dear madam/sir,
    My name is Martin Kung’u based in Lamu County.Am preparing my farm for simsim planting and would appreciate if you advise me where to get certified seeds.
    Any other information that can help in maximum yield will be highly appreciated.

    with regards
    Martin Kung’u

    1. Hi Martin, you can get high quality simsim seeds at KALRO Mtwapa. Call or WhatsApp 0726813236 for more information

  2. Hello Martin I am looking to buy simsim in bulk if you have grown it please let me know I am currently in Mombasa you can reach me through my Safaricom number 0722933114.
    I would appreciate if you call me back to discuss more.

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