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Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Sorgham Farming

By Simon Munyeki

Since precolonial era agriculture has been relied by many communities in Africa for both domestic use as well as for commercial use to boost their economic status by selling the surplus harvest to the traders as well as other people who produced different types of crops. In Kenya for example maize has been the dominant crop grown by majority of the farmers mainly in the former RIFT VALLEY province and its environs.

Moses lokwawi teaching farmers different varieties of sorgham
However, maize production has been threatened by unpredictable change in the weather patterns as well as pests such as the foul army worms which greatly destroy the maize crop at its early stages of growth leading to poor yields. For this reason, the ministry of agriculture has been advising farmers to embrace other types of crops in order to fight food shortage that has been affecting the country leading to hunger in different counties of the nation especially in the pastoral regions.

County government of Laikipia through it ministry of Agriculture in collaboration with different stake holders such as East Africa Malting Limited, seeds, Bayer Agro chemicals, Acre Africa and cooperatives are promoting sorghum production through contract farming in the county.

Although Laikipia has been categorized as an arid county, agriculture has been the major economic activity. Farmers are changing from over reliance on a single crop and embracing sorghum which takes a shorter period of time of three to four months from planting to maturity as opposed to maize which takes longer. Malt east Africa has a ready market for the sorghum that will be produced by the farmers. The white grained [SILA variety] is resistant to advanced weather conditions and yields between 1500-1800kg per acre.
farmers listening to Moses Lokwawi
Sorghum farming will be jointly funded by the county government and other financial cooperatives operating in Laikipia as well as through Enterprise fund. Interested farmers will be provided with certified seed, fertilizer, agro-chemicals and insurance for their crops in form of kind loan which will be paid back after harvesting and selling of their produce which will be bought by East Africa Malt Limited company at a price of ksh 35 per kilogram .

Mr Mosses Lokwawi , Ol-Moran ward crop officer held a farmers sensitization workshop and taught the farmers the steps to follow as well as things to observe in sorghum production right from land preparation, planting, weed and pest control to harvesting and postharvest management practices to observe in order to realize high yields which will increase their  profit margins in a year as compared to maize which is a one season crop.             

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