After several clinics across the country, the Seeds of Gold Farm Clinic returns to Thika today, where it all started.
The return is significant in many aspects as it continues a journey mooted some two years ago to give farmers a forum to directly engage with agriculture experts.
Long before the government coined the Big Four Agenda to mainstream food security and employment creation by tapping the opportunities in the agriculture sector, the farm clinics concept had taken root, growing faster than the creators had envisaged.
Elgon Kenya is proud to be part of this noble initiative since its inception and we have been to every town and place the Seeds of Gold Farm Clinic has been held.
During the journey, one thing stands out — that the thirst for information remains insatiable among farmers.
Certainly, emerging crop challenges cannot wait and must be tackled immediately, which is the reason why the Farm Clinic comes near you. It is documented that most crop and livestock farmers are never sure of what the problem is except for conventional attacks like blight in potatoes and tomatoes and diseases like mastitis in livestock.
The farmers are also mostly unaware of changing crop varieties as agricultural research firms release new products that are resistant to pests and diseases regularly.
The Seeds of Gold Farm Clinic, thus, offers farmers a chance to know these crop varieties and how to grow them for higher yields.
The experience at the clinic since inception has been that eager farmers arrive at the venue early, some almost two hours before kick-off, armed with all sorts of evidence.
READY FOR THE CHALLENGE
Leaves, roots, twigs, damaged fruits, caterpillars, stunted plants and many others have found their way to the clinics where crop and animal doctors have diagnosed the problems and prescribed appropriate prescriptions, including referral for advanced action.
In many cases, the farmers have gone home satisfied and full of knowledge. Follow-up reports have shown that many have been helped to solve problems they have grappled with on the farm for ages.
It is this demand for information that has necessitated the rotation of the clinics across the country as an increasing number of farmers express the desire to attend.
As in the past, there would be dozens of experts at the clinic to answer all your burning questions.
Reports from the field currently indicate a surge in caterpillars, mealybugs and white flies, which are becoming resistant to existing chemicals, a problem that has been linked to climate change. Experts are ready to offer farmers solutions to this problem.
Kenya is experiencing an unprecedented expansion in avocado production, thanks to the recent opening up of the Chinese market.
The crop is not known to have many chemicals approved to tackle the key pests and diseases the plant is prone to.
The thousands of smallholder growers getting into avocado farming need to know what to do to keep the plant healthy.
Avocado farmers are, therefore, requested to attend the event and not only learn about pests and diseases but also drip irrigation system that suit the crop and various transport equipment they can use in and out of the farm.
As we return to Thika, we are fully aware that farmers have questions and they need immediate answers. We are ready for the challenge.
The writer is the head of communications and marketing, Elgon Kenya Ltd.