The Bixa Crop Husbandry

The Bixa plant is a native of Latin America scientifically referred to as bixa orrellana. The crop became popular in the Coastal regions of Kenya in the early 1960s. These are Kwale, Msabweni and Lamu districts in the Coast province.

The crop has very little inputs during planting since artificial fertilizers (inorganic) are not recommended. Organic mature is sufficient to support the plant.

The company is providing seedlings to farmers free of charge from its nurseries in our efforts to increase crop production and improve yield per tree.

The recommended spacing for the above areas is 4*4 m given the high fertility of the coastal soils. Spacing of 2.5*2.5 m has also been used but might reduce production of the crop at maturity due to interlocking between among the trees.

Ideal climatic conditions are humid, hot and wet. A dry spell should prevail during harvesting.

The crop is resistant to drought, weeds and pest. However weeding and pruning are recommended to better production.

An old tree can be pruned to the stem to allow it to rejuvenate and increase its life span. A tree can stay upto 24 years. A young crop will start production after one of planting and peak production of over 8kgs/tree achieved by the 3rd year.

Harvesting involves cutting of mature pods from the tree. The pods are then shade dried and eventually thrashed to give the seedlings. The waste from thrashing (pods and leaves) is good source of organic manure.
The bixa seeds are cleaned, dried and packed in gunny bags ready for collection by the procurement team. The store should be well ventilated but away from sunlight.

College of Biological and Physical Sciences School of Biological Sciences