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Thursday, 12 December 2013

Maize production declines in Sipili

By Bob Aston


Maize production in Sipili division, Laikipia County is said to have decreased in 2013. The ministry of Agriculture said that maize production is slightly lower than earlier anticipated.

The Ministry had projected that Sipili division would be able to harvest around 22,500 bags of maize at the end of the year. This figure has since been revised and the ministry now says that they expect slightly around 14,500 bags. This means that there has been a shortage of over 8,000 bags of maize.
Maize set to be loaded in a trailer
Noah Koinett, an extension officer with the Ministry of Agriculture said that most farmers in Sipili did not follow proper farming methods. Use of wrong fertilizer was also cited as the main cause of low maize production. Most farmers in Sipili are said to be using DAP and CAN.

“Soils are exhausted in Sipili. Farmers are supposed to test their soil to know the elements that are required. Most farmers hardly do this. When you use DAP for eight (8) years the soil automatically turn acidic,” said Noah.

“Soil has to be neutralized using Single Super Phosphate like 17170, 20200 and 23230,” added Noah.
Noah also said that other factors contributing to low maize harvest included: leaching, poor management (incorrect spacing), poor seeds, ill-timed weeding and poor control of pests and diseases.

“This year, maize production has been very low in Kaharati. We were sold fake seeds and fertilizer,” said Alice Waigura, a local maize farmer.

Maize being dried
Despite the decline in production, maize prices have been gradually falling in Sipili. Most farmers are now selling their produce between Ksh 2,100 – Ksh 2,200.

“I joined Laikipia Produce and Marketing Society to see whether it will help us access fertilizer and seeds. The cooperative is our only hope in our quest to avoid exploitation by middlemen,” said David Waita, a maize farmer from Kaharati.

“I checked through Sokopepe for the price of maize in Nairobi and Kisumu. In Nairobi a 90 Kg bag is currently retailing at3,100 while in Kisumu it is retailing at 3,600.This shows that we are being exploited here,” said David.

Laikipia County government had initially planned to start a warehouse receipting system for maize farmers but so far this initiative has not materialized. The county government had planned that farmers would deliver their produce at designated warehouses; they would then be given receipts for redemption at specific banks.
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