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Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Farmers taught importance of sustainable agriculture

By Bob Aston 

Cooperative famers in Sipili Division of Laikipia County were on February 25, 2014 trained on farming skills. One hundred and one farmers attended the training by Netherlands Development Organization (SNV) and MEA Ltd, Ministry of agriculture and Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN). The meeting which was organized by (ALIN) through Ng’arua Maarifa Centre and Laikipia Produce and Marketing Co-operative Society brought together various stakeholders in the agriculture sector.
Speaking during the meeting Kanja Waweru, Chairman of Laikipia Produce and Marketing Co-operative society said that the economic situation of most farmers has been improving as they embrace modern farming methods. Kanja said that they have made great strides in addressing some of the problems affecting farmers like sale of fake seeds, fake fertilizer and lack of market.
Kanja addressing farmers
Kanja informed farmers that Kenya Seed Company Ltd and MEA Ltd will partner with the Co-operative in setting up demo farms.
“Kenya Seed Company Ltd is going to provide us with seeds while MEA Ltd will provide us with fertilizer in our five demo plots,” said Kanja.
Elcy Kigano, Divisional Crop Officer, Ministry of Agriculture, Sipili division urged farmers to ensure that their soil is analysed. She discouraged farmers from using DAP unless it has been recommended as per the results of soil analysis.
Elcy also encouraged farmers to plant traditional crops for food security. She said that they should set aside a section of their farm to plant traditional crops for subsistence purposes.
“Do not neglect traditional crops. These crops always ensure self sufficiency in food production as they are pivotal in ensuring self-sufficiency in food hence ensuring economic sustainability,” said Elcy.
Samwel Kige, Field Officer Ministry of Agriculture, Sipili division urged farmers to plant early. Kige asked the farmers to plough their farms across in order to prevent soil erosion during heavy rains.
Bett Kipsang, Field Officer Ng’arua Maarifa Centre-ALIN said that the centre champions a market portal called Sokopepe- an online and SMS based platforms that provide market prices information to farmers and links farmers with buyers.
Bett said that Sokopepe helps farmers to query prices in major towns in Kenya and make an informed decision on where to sell and at what price thus have a bargaining power. Additionally Sokopepe provides other services like access to input suppliers, extension services and a pool of information on both crop farming and livestock.

Bett informed the farmers that the Maarifa Centre has now introduced a new service called Farmer Record Management Information System (FARMIS). He said that FARMIS is an easy way for farmers to manage their agricultural business allowing them to quickly manage and evaluate their income and expenses.

Bett informed the farmers that FARMIS seeks to ensure that they are profiled and all their farm records automated thus enabling them to be managers in their own farms.
Job Kevin from MEA Ltd addressing farmers
Noah Koinett, Field Officer Ministry of Agriculture, Sipili division said that the Ministry has been carrying out soil analysis since the year began and that only one farmer in Sipili division has so far been recommended for DAP. Most farmers in Sipili Division have been recommended to use NPK.
Noah said that Laikipia County government has launched an initiative that will cater for costs of soil analysis for ten farmers in Sipili Division. Farmers representing each of the four sub locations of Sipili division were selected during the meeting to have their soils taken for analysis courtesy of the County government of Laikipia.
“Those who will have their soil analysed must follow the requirements that will be given,” said Elcy.
When giving the report of soil analysis done by MEA last week, Job Kevin from MEA Ltd informed the farmers that four soil samples indicated that the soil PH is very low and thus soil in Sipili is acidic.
“Majority of the farm land nutrients has been exhausted. From today ensure that you use 23.23.0 in order to succeed as a farmer.  You cannot benefit from your farm if you are not taking good care of it,” said Job.
Gachara Gikungu from Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV) said that the problem with most farmers is that they do not want to accept new farming methods and requirements.

“You will have a miserable life if you do not follow proper planting methods’’ said Gachara. Adding that there is money in agriculture but people do not realize that.
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