Farmers in Trans Nzoia County have been encouraged to embrace diversification in crop production to boost their sources of livelihood and improve living standards.
This was one of the key messages by key speakers, led by area Deputy Governor (DG) Mrs. Philomena Binea, who graced a farmer’s field day event organised by the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) at Kitale regional offices on Thursday.
The colourful event, whose theme was “Enhancing Diversification of Agricultural Technologies for Nutrition and Food Security,” assembled together several seed and agro chemicals companies that showcased their products to farmers present.
County Executive Committee Member (CECM) for Agriculture Mrs. Mary Nzomo appealed to farmers to exploit the region’s favourable weather patterns and arable soils and increase their sources of income through crop diversification.
“Trans Nzoia County is endowed with favourable annual weather conditions that oscillate between long and short rains throughout the year. Thus, it is time farmers embraced the agribusiness model of crop production and reduce overdependence on maize production,” noted Nzomo.
She said some of the advantages of crop diversification, including key among them climate change mitigation, facilitation of several employment alternatives to farmers, boosts sources of income and boosting the country’s food security as well as foreign earning through exportation.
Urging Trans Nzoia farmers to embrace crop diversification, Nzomo emphasised the farming method also helps in reducing risk factors thereby ensuring the farmers do not lose all of their resources in case of adverse weather conditions that do not favour crop production.
“In addition, since multiple crops can be harvested from a small field, the production increases tenfold, which ensures a substantial amount of income,” Nzomo explained the significance of crop diversification to the farmers.
The agriculture CEC further noted crop diversification was one of the cheapest ways of dealing with several crop diseases, including the Fall Army Worms in the region.
“By planting maize on the same piece of land, chances of completely dealing with the problem of destructive pests like the Fall Army Worms are slim. This is because a farmer that plants maize in both short and long rain seasons inadvertently provides enough food for the worms,” explained Nzomo.
Besides going for the best maize seed varieties suitable for the soils in the area, the farmers present were encouraged to invest in early maturing crops during the shorter rain seasons.
Nzomo identified sunflowers, Irish potatoes, sorghum, millet, carrots, groundnuts, African leafy vegetables and soya beans as some of the best early maturing crops with most of them classified as drought resistant, besides their nutritional value.
Her sentiments were echoed by KEPHIS General Manager, Quality Assurance Mr. Silas Kibet who urged farmers in the region to rely on seed varieties recommended by KEPHIS to avoid encountering post-harvest losses associated with bad or fake varieties sold by unscrupulous individuals.
Mrs. Binea assured farmers that the new administration under Governor George Natembeya would put a lot of focus on the agriculture sector.
“One of our goals is to ensure Trans Nzoia County adds value to the harvested crops,” remarked Binea, hinting at the County’s plans to install maize milling factories within Natembeya’s first tenure of office.
Kenya Seed Company, Royal Seed, Agrico Seed Company, Elgon Kenya, SeedCo, Pannar, Advantage Crops Limited, Agriscope, Egerton University, Yara, Bayer, Ultravetis and African Development Corporation (ADC) were some of the seed companies and agro chemicals companies that participated in the today’s field day.