Maasai Mara University in Narok County was the place to be last Saturday for anyone earning from the soil.
Hundreds of farmers and agricultural experts congregated at the institution in search of eng’eno e puan, which in the Maa language means knowledge for prosperity, the motto of the university.
The farmers, and agribusiness students from the university, came with all sorts of questions, from livestock production to horticulture, poultry and maize farming.
Apollo Lagat, from Narok, lamented that growing wheat and barley, the known cash crops in Narok County, is no longer profitable. Production has declined due to unpredictable weather and nutrient-depleted soils.
Dr Bernard Towett, an agronomist from Egerton University, advised farmers to embrace crop rotation by rotating wheat, barley or maize with beans or chick peas.
He noted that chick pea is a resilient crop that does not need much rainfall.
"We're doing contract farming with farmers in the area and this offers you a good opportunity to make money since we buy a kilo at Sh80," Dr Towet said, adding the cost of producing an acre of the pea is Sh15,000.
Farmers in potato growing areas in Narok also raised concerns about shortage of quality seeds.
Dr Towett advised them to seek seeds from Agriculture Development Corporation (ADC) in Molo or Egerton University.
Farmer Nickson Tanyaag asked what it takes to formulate feeds. Dr John Muchibi, a veterinary surgeon at Elgon Kenya, noted that feed formulation has several processes and farmers should make the formulation depending on the stage of the cow.
“If you have poor raw materials, the end product will also be bad. It is advisable to buy feeds in bulk to save costs,” said Dr Muchibi.
FARM MACHINERY AND AGRO-FINANCING
He isolated subclinical mastitis as dangerous since its symptoms are not visible.
“Clinical mastitis is visible, since you can see blood in milk. Sub clinical is dangerous and many animals have the disease without the farmer knowing. Use strip cup to detect mastitis,” he said.
Alexander Mutua Makaa, divisional manager at New Holland, CMC Motors, said participating in the farm clinic has helped the firm empower farmers.
He said with the right machines, farmers will produce more food to feed the country and have the surplus for export.
“We are selling the tractors with a special offer of four free services, which means farmers will enjoy eight months using the machines without paying for the service,” said Mutua.
Peter Karugu, the corporate accounts manager at Car and General, said that their tractor brand, Kubota, is a pedigree Japanese product, which has proved to be popular among farmers as it has 85 horsepower engine and has a four-wheel drive.
Wellingtone Wasike, the commercial manager at Seed Co, said the clinic helped the firm interact with the farmers.
Their seed varieties include those of watermelons, which give an average of 35 tonnes per acre, dhania, onion, collard greens and butternuts.
At Elgon Kenya’s stand, farmers were updated on the latest technologies to transform their farms and animals.
Farmers also had a chance to visit Sensei Institute of Technology and Agricultural Tractors Limited stand where their questions on training, machinery and agro-financing were answered.