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Wednesday, 19 March 2014

More farmers opt for early planting

By Bob Aston
The onset of the rainy season has seen more farmers deciding on early planting. Elcy Kigano, Divisional Crop Officer, Ministry of Agriculture, Sipili division said that planting season in Sipili normally starts from 25th March to early April although this season some farmers have opted to plant earlier than that.
Elcy said that rainfall has started early this season. Most farmers have not yet done land preparation as they were caught unaware. Elcy advised farmers to plant extra seeds to allow for losses due to insect pests and ground squirrels.
Peter Migwe at his farm

Elcy also urged farmers to ensure that seeds are not directly in contact with fertilizer during planting, as this can cause poor germination due to seed scorching. 

“Farmers should maximize crop production through appropriate land-use management. They should also put in place soil conservation measures to minimize environmental degradation,” said Elcy.
Data from Kenya Meteorological service indicates that most of the rainfall over the better part of the country is likely to be recorded during the peak month of April. Laikipia County is expected to receive near normal rainfall with a tendency towards above normal. Cessation dates of the long rain in the county is expected to be between 3rd and 4th  week of May.
Early planting ensures that crops can be harvested before depletion of soil moisture as there will be less water loss by evaporation. It will also ensure there is better response to fertilizer. Yields are greatly reduced by late planting.
Peter Migwe who has been farming maize and beans in a three acre piece of land said that he decided to plant early in order to harvest early. Peter is among the few farmers in Sipili who managed to buy the subsidized government fertilizer.

Most farmers in the region have opted to buy fertilizer from agro-vets. Fertilizer prices in most shops is retailing as high as Ksh 3,100 while the subsidized government fertilizer is retailing at Ksh 2,000.
Peter and his family planting peas

James Mwai who also decided to plant early said that he could not wait for the government fertilizer as time was not on his side. He had decided to plant early but getting subsidized government fertilizer was a problem.

“I had wanted to get subsidized government fertilizer but it was not possible. I decided to buy in an agro-vet. It was costly as I had to part with Ksh 3,000 but I did not have any option,” said Mwai.

Mwai also decided to use DAP instead of 23.23.0 which he said is the most preferred fertilizer in Machunguru area and because he believes that it is reliable.

Despite some farmers deciding on early planting some have not yet planted. Johnstone Ndegwa Ndiritu who has a tree nursery said that he depends on sale of trees to buy farm inputs. Johnstone said that the onset of the long rain and subsequent purchase of trees will enable him to start preparing his farm for planting.

Last year Johnstone used 23.23.0 in a three quarter piece of land to plant maize and he said that the returns were good as he managed to get 22 bags of maize. Previously he was using DAP and he was getting between 15-17 bags.
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