County governments have been urged to encourage farmers to concentrate on farming in climatically appropriate areas, instead of areas producing similar crops which leads to market gluts during the rainy season.
The Chairman of South Rift Farmers’ Association, Justus Monda said there was a lot the counties would learn from the colonialists mapping of crop-specific areas, which resulted in a vibrant local market.
He gave an example of coffee and tea which was only grown in areas that were climate appropriate to certain districts and Kericho Tea is still a testimony of how such farming methods have stood the test of time.
He said for a long time maize was never a crop of choice for residents of Molo and Kuresoi, however, the new immigrants who bought tiny farms from maize growing areas such as central and Kisii districts, concentrated on it, despite the cereal not being suitable for the cold climate.
Monda stated that to date maize takes a whole year to mature in the area and smart farmers don’t grow the crop, since there’s more money in Irish potatoes, which takes only three months to mature and fetches much more money per acre than the maize.
“The major problem for the local farmers is a regulated market because during the rainy season when farmers should be making good money, there’s an overabundance of food in the country and that reduces the prices to a pittance,’’ he said.
In addition, he gave an example of onions which for a long time had enabled farmers in Nyeri and Kajiado counties to earn good profits until this year, when young farmers flooded them in the market and naturally high losses were incurred, when prices were pushed to twenty shillings a kilo at the farm gate.
He noted that specialized farming has served South Africa well and that was the reason none of their leaders has ever carried a begging bowl to Western cities.
By Veronica Bosibori