By Conrad Onyango
Cereal farmers in the lower Eastern province have been challenged to use more subsidized fertilizers to to increase food production in the region.
Addressing farmers on a farmer’s field day in Mutyambuo location of Nzaui district, Deputy Director in the ministry of agriculture, Zakayo Magara urged farmers to take advantage of the imported fertilizers provided by the government to address the low yields in the region that he attributed to the increased levels of aflatoxin in cereals crops and the current short rains.
“The provision of subsidised fertilizers by the government is aimed at addressing post harvesting losses in this area. Farmers should work closely with extension officers in the area to step up the use of farm input to curb aflatoxin incidences as they increase their yields,” said Magara.
The Government through the ministry of Agriculture has started distributing subsidised fertilizers for the current and next planting season through the National Cereals and Production Board (NCPB) depots in areas currently planting cereal crops. The government in a bid to address low yields of the crops in the dry areas has imported 23,000metric tonnes of Di-ammonium Phosphate (DAP) that will see interested farmers in semi arid lands benefit from the commodity.
Magara urged farmers to get recommendation from the Ministry’s extension staff to ease the distribution of the fertilizers and control cases of theft of the agriculture supplements for illegal resale.
“Farmers should seek recommendation for the supplements from our extension staff to ensure interested farmers are ascertained based on acreage. This will also avoid traders from accessing the commodity which is not for re-sale,” said Magara.
Presenting high value traditional seeds to various farmers’ groups and individual farmers, he also advised farmers to adopt cereal banking and purchase for Progress (P4P) strategies in farming to enable them access good markets for their produce in the current short rains.
“Farmers could also use the economies of scale after aggregating enough volumes for various markets, including purchase for progress (P4P) of the World Food Programme especially during this season of short rains,” he said.
On his part, Eastern provincial Agribusiness Development officer, John Materi advised farmers to come up with farm business plans if they wanted to practice farming as a business.
“The province has suffered three crop failures due to failure of rains in the last three years, farmers need to utilize the current short rains to plant drought resistant crops such as Cadam sorghum, green grams, peas and beans,” Added the regions provincial crops officer, Patrick Maina.