NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
In his farm store in Athi River, south of Kenya’s
capital Nairobi, where he farms vegetables, John Gatitu keeps
plenty of hot chili, onions and garlic.
One may think
that he is storing the produce so that he can get seeds from
them, but they are not.
These are his biopesticides.
As the cost of inorganic pesticides rise in the east African
nation following the government’s imposition of a 16 percent
value-added tax (VAT) on the products, an increasing number of
farmers like Gatitu are turning to farm-made concoctions to save
Besides onions, garlic and chili, farmers are also using aloe
vera, tithonia and rabbit urine, the latter two also working as
"I had attended lessons on how to use the biofertilizers some
years back, but I had never put them into use because I found
the inorganic pesticides convenient since you buy, mix and
spray," Gatitu said.
"But with the cost of pesticides rising, I have been forced
to turn to the organic pesticides, which I am now making at
To make the biopesticides, Gatitu starts by assembling the
ingredients from fellow farmers growing the crops in the region.
Then, he slices eight pieces of onions and mixes with about a
kilogram of chili and vinegar.
"This mixture is then diluted with a liter of water and
boiled for about 20 minutes, and it is ready for use.
"But it is not used as it is, it is diluted with 20 liters of
water before spraying," he explained.
Gatitu uses the biopesticide to keep at bay pests that
include thrips, caterpillars and aphids, which attack tomatoes,
collard greens and cabbages.
"This is what I have been using since September," said
"It has worked so fine that I have now ditched most of the
pesticides I have been using all those years."
Following the imposition of the 16 percent VAT on pesticides
in August, prices of chemicals have risen by a similar margin or
A 150-ml pack of a pesticide that was going for an average of
150 shillings (1.47 U.S. dollars) now retails at an equivalent
of 1.76 dollars.
"I farm on an acre and I have divided the farm into three
portions, one hosts onions, the other cabbages and the other
"I would spend up to 49 dollars a month on pesticides but
with the concoction I make, I am not even using a quarter of the
amount," Gatitu said.
Simon Mwaki, a vegetable farmer who is also using farm-made
biopesticides on his farm in Juja, noted that by avoiding
chemicals, he is killing two birds with one stone.
"First is that I am able to save costs, therefore, reduce my
production expenses, but most importantly, I am responding to
needs of consumers who are increasingly becoming
health-conscious and want to consume pesticide-free foods," he
said, noting organic foods are fetching higher prices in the
According to him, chili has a chemical called capsaicin which
repels some pests and kills others by causing metabolic
The same applies to rabbit urine, which is mixed with water
and sprayed on crops like tomatoes, killing many pests.
Fertilizer prices were also pushed up by shortage in the
market, which also affected flower growers.
To cut cost and fill the gap, many farmers in Kenya have
embraced rabbit urine, animal manure and plant compost as
biofertilizers, and grow the crops organically.
Vincent Munywoki, an agronomist in Kiambu on the outskirts of
Nairobi, noted that the concoctions farmers are using are
effective but just like inorganic pesticides, one needs to keep
on changing them to curb resistance.
"Another danger of the farm-made pesticides is that one
farmer may mix it correctly and the other not in right
quantities, therefore, failing to contain pests," he said.