Coriander, or as locally known dhania, is a spice that is mostly used to add flavor to food.
It is a herb with a unique aroma that is rich in nutrients and adds taste to soups and many local dishes.
It boasts of a wide range of health benefits such as anti-cancer effects, decreasing obesity and mortality risks, fighting diabetes and heart disease while promoting healthy skin and hair, lowering high blood pressure and cholesterol levels as well as improving body immunity.
Varieties of coriander grown in Kenya according to selinawamucii.com include:
Leaf Cilantro which has flat, delicately toothed leaves, pungent in smell and has a soapy taste.
Seed Coriander which is grown for seed harvesting. The plant is grown up to maturity stage where it starts producing seeds. The seeds are crushed and used to make curry powder in value addition.
Vietnamese Coriander has narrow, smooth-edged and darker leaves, often with black parenthesis-like markings on either side of the leaf veins.
Cilantro also is known as ‘spiny coriander’. It has a strong and sharp smell.
Dhania farming is not labour intensive and does not require a lot of maintenance.
Dhania is easy to grow and takes about one and a half months to mature. Seeds require three to four months to grow.
Coriander grows well in dry and cool weather and performs well at a temperature range of 20 and 30 degrees’ Celsius highlights graduatefarmer.co.ke
It is grown from seeds whose growth peaks with heavy rains onset, thus require adequate soil moisture.
The seeds require about 18 to 25 degrees Celsius to germinate and being watered regularly notes farmlinkkenya.com
Seeds germination takes about nine to ten days or even a fortnight.
No transplanting is done a farmer sows seeds directly into the soil on the farm.
The addition of organic manure to the soil before planting is advisable to add soil fertility.
It does well in fertile, well-drained sandy and loamy soils with an optimum soil PH range between 6.0 to 8.0
It requires about five to six hours of sunlight for optimal growth.
Spacing is important recommended at 15cm by 30cm to avoid nutrients competition and result in more production.
A farmer should control weeds by using herbicides or uprooting to avoid the competition of water, sunlight, space, soil nutrients and keep off pests causing diseases.
Pests that attack dhania, as listed by greenlife.co.ke, include aphids, cutworms, armyworms, rot knot nematodes which are controlled by using appropriate pesticides.
Diseases known to invade dhania are bacterial leaf spot, damping-off, soft rot and powdery mildew which is controlled by maintaining field hygiene, practicing crop rotation, seed dressing and using healthy disease-free seeds according to oxfarm.co.ke
Spraying with pesticides and fungicides is not recommended unless it is really necessary.
A farmer is recommended to harvest when the leaves are big and still green.
To increase the shelf life and prevent dhania from turning yellow one should soak them in water or refrigerate to maintain their freshness.
For seeds, the leaves begin turning feathery and yellow coloured flowers develop which is followed by the formation of seeds, which are harvested a week later.
Seeds are harvested when they turn light brownish in colour.