Monday, August 13, 2012

Agro-chemical firm targets small-scale farmers in Kenya

By PONCIANO ODONGO and CHRISTINe WANGOI

An agro-chemical firm is targeting small-scale farmers in a bid to grow its market in Kenya.

The newly-established Elgon Kenya Limited was previously dealing with large-scale growers supplying farm equipment and re-packaged products.

Company director Bimal Kantaria says the move to go small-scale will impact greatly on subsistence farming in Kenya.

Since last year, the company has posted technical staff to various parts of the country to provide extension and advisory services.

According to Mr Nelson Maina, the company’s communication manager, the firm has packaged its products to suit the small-scale farmer. Some of the products have been reduced from larger sacks to small packets.

Irrigation technologies

“These have turned out to be the fast moving products through our stockists,” he said. The products include fertilisers, seeds, and agro-chemicals.

He said the company’s goal was to provide the best solutions to small-scale farmers for irrigation through technologies that can be adapted and advanced to suit all crops, climates, soil types, and water sources.

The Elgon drip irrigation kit, for example, can enable a farmer to carry out irrigation in a small area, say a kitchen garden.

It is fully gravity-powered and therefore there is no need for a pump or power source. “Once you buy it, the instructions given by the seller need no technical expertise,” said Mr John Mwangi, a Nyahururu-based subsistence farmer.  Mr Emmanuel Rang’atwa, a farmer at Mahanga in Vihiga, says he has been able to recoup the money he spent buying the equipment after six months.

“I use my irrigation kit on an eighth-acre piece of land and I have since been able to plant fast-maturing vegetables like sweet pepper, spider plant, and bunching onions, which are profitable,” he says.

He sells his crops in Kisumu and intends to produce coloured pepper, which goes for Sh300 a kilogramme, by the end of this year.

“To help the farmers we offer extension and advisory services on all agribusiness practices from production, crop protection to marketing,” says Mr Edwin Nyabiba  West Rift manager.