Seeds of Gold clinic offers farmers chance to learn the best practices

Friday July 22 2016

Proceedings during the past Seeds of Gold farmers clinic.

Proceedings during the past Seeds of Gold farmers clinic. PHOTO | COURTESY 

THEY CAME FROM as far as Narok and Nandi Hills with one intention.

A man could be seen striding towards one of the many tents, in his hand is a yellow plastic pot wrapped inside a black polythene bag.

“I’m looking for a soil expert, can anyone direct me to one?” said Peter Mwaura, 45, from Gatanga, Muranga County.

He was one of the many farmers who had attended the Nation Media Group’s Seeds of Gold farmer’s clinic held at Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization  (Kalro) Institute last Saturday to learn how boost agricultural productivity.

The farmers wanted to share their experiences with fellow farmers and professionals in the event sponsored by Elgon Kenya Limited, an agro inputs manufacturers, and Egerton University.

And in accordance to the day’s theme – “Maximizing Your Yields”-- the professionals did not disappoint.

Mr Bimal Kantaria, CEO Elgon Kenya Ltd, said the clinic was a wonderful platform for farmers in the country.

“Here farmers are able to address their technical problems to technical experts. This has been quite different from the usual farmers’ day where agro dealers just to sell things,” Mr Kantaria said, adding the event will take place after every two months and will be held in different counties.

EMBRACE SOIL TESTING

“Sometime you can bring in expensive technologies that don’t work for farmers so we have introduced three new relatively cost effective technologies which have been selling well, greenhouses, drip irrigation and new seed varieties which are high yielding and disease tolerant,” he said.

Mr Samuel Kiiru a director at the Karlo advised farmers to go for improved vegetable varieties which have reduced gestation period and which are disease resistant.

To achieve better productivity, Mr Kiiru told the farmers to take their soil for testing to determine the amount of acidity and minerals in the farm soils.

Geoffrey Korir, a soil expert from Egerton University said collecting soil samples from the farm should be done by a soil expert or a trained farmer for reliable results.

“When doing soil test you need to pick samples from different spots on the farm and the samples must be taken from a given soil depth. This is why it is advisable to involve an expert in the process so that you get reliable result,” Korir advised.

Albert Mwaniki, the Muranga County executive in charge of agriculture asked avocado farmers in the county, which is among the top avocado producer in the country, to grow the right varieties, saying the demand is huge both in the local and international markets.