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Friday, 21 February 2014

Curiosity leads a farmer to joining a Co-operative

By Bob Aston 

James Mathenge was from a friend’s home on February 17, 2014 in Sipili Centre when he saw a van unloading bags of certified hybrid maize seeds. Out of curiosity he decided to approach those who were unloading the seeds to inquire if he can buy the seeds. Ten minutes later he found himself as a new member of Laikipia Produce and Marketing Co-operative Society.
Farmers being capacity built
Mathenge said that the information he received from the inquiry encouraged him to join the Co-operative. He promptly paid registration fee of Ksh 450.

“I had heard about the Co-operative and about Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) but I never got a lot of information about what they do or are involved with,” said Mathenge.
Mathenge said that the issue of certified hybrid seeds, advisory services and the issue of buying subsidized government fertilizer from the Co-operative are some of the things that encouraged him to join the Co-operative.
“I normally buy seeds but once I open the bags I find that the seeds are not genuine as some have cracks. This has been affecting my maize production,” said Mathenge.
Mathenge has been a maize farmer in Dimcom area in Sipili Division for more than 10 years. Every planting season he normally ploughs his five (5) acres piece of land and leases an additional five (5) acres.
“I have been informed that the Co-operative members are usually capacity build by ALIN. This training will really benefit me as I am not happy with what I have been harvesting,” said Mathenge.
A Co-operative official going through their records
Mathenge has been harvesting between 90-95 bags of maize in the ten (10) acre piece of land. This roughly translates to 9 bags per acre. He said that the low yield has really demoralized him at times but he expects his yield to improve this year.
“I expect that after the various capacity building meetings I will be able to harvest more than 20 bags per acre like other successful farmers,” said Mathenge.
Mathenge has now submitted his name through the Co-operative to the Ministry of Agriculture to have his soil analyzed ahead of the planting season.
“I have been told to ensure that soil analysis is carried out in my farm. I never knew the importance of soil analysis but I will make sure that once it is done I will follow all the requirements that I will be told,” said Mathenge.
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