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Feedback: Experts give insights on crop and livestock issues

Thursday April 2 2020

A farmer feeds dairy cattle in a zero-grazing unit in Ngorika Village, Ol-Kalou in Nyandarua.

A farmer feeds dairy cattle in a zero-grazing unit in Ngorika Village, Ol-Kalou in Nyandarua. Before making any concrete ‘mistakes’, when setting up a zero-grazing unit, detailed expert advice, which can only be done after a site visit, setting up cow barns, sourcing fodder and sourcing cows, among other critical dynamics is required. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

SEEDS OF GOLD EXPERTS
By SEEDS OF GOLD EXPERTS
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Setting up a zero-grazing dairy unit for 30 cows

I want to start a zero-grazing unit for 30 ‘milking’ cows. What do I need to do? I would need a ‘sketch map’ for proper understanding.

-Tandeka Elly

I suppose your target is to set up a dairy farm with 30 lactating cows at any given time. Well, before making any concrete ‘mistakes’, this requires a detailed expert advice, which can only be done after a site visit, setting up cow barns, sourcing fodder and sourcing cows, among other critical dynamics.

These nitty-gritty activities can be collapsed into a tailor-made dairy farm business plan. Write to [email protected] at Egerton University to guide you through this project.

In the meantime, read “Unlock success to dairy farming with these guidelines” published in Seeds of Gold and available online for simple but critical tips you need to keep in mind.

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Felix Akatch Opinya, Department of Animal Sciences, Egerton University.

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I need market for tree seedlings

I am Newton in Kipkaren. I would like to market my 3,000 eucalyptus, 2,000 cypress, 50 indigenous and 200 kei apple tree seedlings. Please connect me to a buyer.

Newton, farmers are looking for seedlings and you cannot lack market especially now that the rains have started. You can try advertising the tree seedlings you have on social media platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram or print media like Seeds of Gold.
Carol Mutua, Department of Crops, Horticulture and Soils, Egerton University.

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I want to add value to fruits

My question is on value addition of fruits. I have been making wine using plums, goose berries and tree tomatoes. I have been doing it as a hobby without using any additives hydrometer.

But I realised that to get quality wine, I need a hydrometer to test the specific gravity, I need pectic enzyme to assist in wine-clearing process, and I also need campden tablets (potassium or sodium metabisulfite) for stabilising the wine.

My problem is I don’t know where to source these items. I am based in Ol Kalou, Nyandarua County. Please help.

-David Ng’ang’a

Value addition of fruits is a good initiative and is highly encouraged. Always observe good manufacturing practices during the entire process.

You can get pectic enzyme and campden tablets from Promaco Limited in Karen, Nairobi. You can get a hydrometer from Chemoquip Kenya Limited in Ngara, Nairobi.

Ruth Kavaya, Department of Dairy, Food Science and Technology, Egerton University.

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Aflatoxin in foods

My name is Rajan and I wish to enquire about aflatoxin levels in the everyday foods that we consume. Is there any place or laboratory that can carry out tests and provide results?

I am particularly concerned about the milk and yoghurt products we are consuming daily.

Interest in aflatoxin levels in foods has risen especially after the investigative documentary, ‘White Alert’, aired by NTV in late 2019.

The mycotoxins can be passed in milk (aflatoxin M1) when lactating animals are fed on contaminated feed material.

Public institutions with capacity to test for aflatoxin M1 include Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) and Directorate of Veterinary Services (DVS), among others. Private laboratories include SGS and Analabs Limited, all based in Nairobi.

Felix Akatch Opinya, Department of Animal Sciences, Egerton University.

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Agri-expert advice

I am the chairperson of a newly formed youth group called Growing Seed. We have started doing some projects like sukuma wiki and courgette farming and we are also constructing a pig sty to start keeping the animals. We have some challenges and need help.

-Elphas Otsieno

You have not stated the challenges you are facing for specific expert advice.

Carol Mutua, Department of Crops, Horticulture and Soils, Egerton University.

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I need fertilised kienyeji eggs

Where can I get quality fertilised Kienyeji chicken eggs?

-Mwangi Ndegwa, Rongai

There are many companies that sell fertilised eggs, but before buying, verify the standards the eggs are kept in or subjected to since quality, hygiene and storage conditions have a huge impact on the hatch rate.

Please do due diligence first, given that you can look for these businesses online.
Felix Akatch Opinya, Department of Animal Sciences, Egerton University.

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Where can I buy white Leghorn chicks?

I am in need of white leghorn chicks. Any idea where I can get some?

-Simon Gichuki, Eldoret

The Leghorn is a robust, regular and prolific layer with rare cases of common health issues. The bird is further known for numerous qualities, which provide a perfect blend or match to a flock.

Wendy Farms and Ziwani Poultry rear them. Visit their websites for contacts.

Felix Akatch Opinya, Department of Animal Sciences, Egerton University.

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Killing weeds on bean crop

Which is the right weed killer that I can use after emergence of weeds in my bean crop?

-Chisano

There are several weed herbicides for beans. For a post-emergence herbicide that is only selective in beans, you can use Basagran 0.5ltr, which controls broadleaved weeds.

This is Class II, with yellow active ingredient Bentazone 480g/ltr. It is recommended that one should apply at a rate of 1.5-3ltr/ha.

Dual gold is a pre and post-emergence Class III herbicide with blue active ingredient S-Metolachlor 960g/ltr. The herbicide is used for control of weeds, especially grasses, in beans and maize. It is recommended that one should apply 120-600ltr/ha/10,000ltr water.

Jayo Manyasi Tracyline, Department of Crops Horticulture and Soils, Egerton University.

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Fertiliser from black soldier flies

I would like to know more about organic fertiliser from insects like black soldier flies.

-Martin

Black soldier fly larvae are natural decomposers and from this process, we rear a high quality animal protein and produce an organic fertiliser that is good for your farm.

Egerton University, Njoro, runs such a project. Drop an email to [email protected] for more details.

Dennis Kigiri, Department of Animal Sciences, Egerton University.

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Feeding beef calves at low cost

I would like to know how to prepare low-cost feeds for beef calves to enable them gain weight faster.

-Satish

Calf management is a key part of cattle production. It is important to ensure calves get colostrum 24 hours after birth.

Thereafter, you can continue giving milk or milk replacers. Calves stop feeding on milk and feed fully on pasture and fodder as their rumen develops.

They can take in silage and hay, which are relatively cheap and supplement with mineral blocks and concentrates to balance the beef-nutrient requirement needs.

Dennis Kigiri, Department of animal sciences, Egerton University.

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Making rabbit urine fertliser

I’m planning to start a rabbit farm so that I can collect urine and turn it into fertiliser. Please share the process and the types of equipment used to produce urine fertiliser. I’m from Bhutan and it’s a very new thing for the people here.

-Pema Tshering, Phuntsholing, Bhutan, West Bengal

Rabbit urine, whether raw or processed, makes a fairly good business venture. In Kenya, however, the business was received with much hype that the supply exceeded the demand.

Hence, lessons/threats from the Kenyan situation should not go unnoticed for anyone interested in the business even outside our borders.

To start selling urine, you need at least 20 rabbits. Let your hutch be made of timber and wire mesh on the floor to make urine collection easier.

You can make the fertiliser from a mixture of the rabbit urine and compost manure made from cow dung, wood ash and foliage from plants. The mixture is put in a special digester and what comes out is an organic fertiliser.

Felix Akatch Opinya, Department of Animal Sciences, Egerton University.

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Teach me more on hydroponics

I would like to know more about hydroponics farming. My wish is to start with fodder as I want to keep rabbits and Kienyeji chickens.

Is it advisable to feed them the fodder? Who can I contact to get the seeds and nutrients and overall set-up for growth? I would also like to do sample hydroponics system for vegetables like lettuce and spinach. What is the cost and material required?

-Glawie Lawrence, Juja

Hydroponics enables production of highly nutritious fodder in about six days. The technology is old but has been popularised over the recent years.

Barley and oats are most common for sprouting for livestock, but the former is more preferred owing to its high digestibility rate of about 80-85 per cent, higher crude protein and lower crude fibre.

You may get training from CoELIB Centre at Egerton University.

Felix Akatch Opinya, Department of Animal Sciences, Egerton University

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Venturing into fish farming

I am in Naivasha and would like to venture into fish farming. I have two dams ready and would like some technical advice on how to proceed. I am willing to meet the facilitation cost for the expert to visit my farm.

-Peter

To venture into fish farming, one needs to have basic knowledge on fish species, fish feeds and feeding, water quality management and stocking rates. For more information contact 0716573291 or write to [email protected]

Janice Kimuli, Agro-Science Park fish farm, Egerton University.

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Adding value to strawberries

Kindly connect me to any strawberry farmer who exports the produce? Please advise which is more convenient and profitable agribusiness between strawberry powders or its juice pulp? Both local and in export market?

-Taha Malindi, Kilifi County

Strawberries are mainly exported in their fresh form and have a good market locally and internationally. If you can manage to do value addition, you can earn more.

Strawberries are used to make jams and juices. Locally, you can sell your strawberries to supermarkets, groceries, food processors (like Zesta and Peptang), milk processing companies (Brookside, New KCC and Fresha), hotels and hospitals. Remember that for you to export you need to follow a procedure.

You should start by observing Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) as they will determine if your produce is good for the export market.

Horticulture Crops Directorate (HCD) will ensure that the GAP conditions are met before a farmer is issued with a compliance certificate.

The certificate enables the farmer to start producing a crop for export. HCD also checks the farm before the farmer starts cultivating to ascertain the suitability of the farm before certification is done.

The certificate enables the farmer to look for contracts with exporting companies in Kenya. Kephis issues a phytosanitary certificate after ascertaining that the product is free from pests, diseases and chemical residues.

For more information, contact HCD through 254 (20) 2131560 or 254 (20) 2088469.

Carol Mutua, Department of Crops, Horticulture and Soils, Egerton University.

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Exporting fruits

I am writing on behalf of my brother-in-law who intends to start importing fruits from Kenya to the United Arab Emirates.

He has come across an opportunity and he needs a Kenyan supplier/farmer who is able to supply a container of both avocados and mangoes each week for the Dubai market.

Could you please link me up with a trusted supplier/farmer who is able to fulfil the task?

-Victor Mutelekesha

Farmers are looking for market for their produce but remember for you to export produce from Kenya, there is a procedure you must follow and also the farmer supplying the produce should have some certificates for the produce to qualify for the export market.

The farmer should start by observing Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) as they will determine if the produce is good for the export market.

Horticulture Crops Directorate will ensure that the GAP conditions are met before a farmer is issued with a compliance certificate.

The compliance certificate enables the farmer to start producing a crop for export. HCD also checks the farm before the farmer starts cultivating to ascertain the suitability of the farm before certification is done.

The certificate enables the farmer to look for contracts with exporting companies in Kenya. Kephis issues a phytosanitary certificate after ascertaining that the product is free from pests, diseases and chemical residues.

For more information, contact HCD through 254 (20) 2131560 or 254 (20) 2088469.

Carol Mutua, Department of Crops, Horticulture and Soils, Egerton University.