Wetland crops like arrowroots don’t really need wetlands. With a little help, they can easily grow upland.
Arrowroots are typical wetland crops. They need a soil full of moisture. That’s why they are grown mostly in swampy areas. But they can easily grow without a swamp, even in semi-arid areas as Simon Wachieni in Thika, Kenya demonstrates.
Well managed moist-soil can be retained in an artificial but organic way. ‘All you need is polyetheen foil and a good soil’, Wachieni explains. ‘And of course water.’ But not too much, as the foil preserves the water.
In three months’ time the arrowroot can be harvested
To start, the farmer makes a moisture bed out of polythene. The bed must be deep enough to provide room for the arrowroot to grow.
In the foil a few holes must be made for a good soil condition. ‘Before putting the soil in, I mix it with composted manure’, Wachieni explains. This provides a fertile, but even more important: a moist soil. In three months’ time the arrowroot can be harvested, Wachieni tells.
Polythene can be very useful for growing other crops that need wetlands, like arrowroot, papyrus and rice. But also lettuce, watercress, blueberries, juneberries and mulberries and herbs like mint and wild iris.
To show the practical use of growing Wachieni can be visited in Thika, Kenya. Wachieni gives training and advice on much more then growing wetland crops uplands. He shares his expertise inthe fields of improved indigenous vegetables, improved indigenous poultry production and mushroom growing.
Simon Wachieni is social entrepreneur and agribusiness trainer at his company Nutri-Fresh Farm & Agri Hub. He trains people who want to start farming in horticulture, poultry and even mushrooms. In the future he will also expand his business with cows.