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County boss calls for paradigm shift on crop production

County executive committee member for agriculture, Philip Aemun has said the invasion of irrigation schemes by Prosopis plant, commonly known as Mathenge in Kenya, had negatively affected large scale farming along riverine areas which have good soils for crop production.

The County Executive was speaking on Saturday at Morulem when he separately met and interacted with farmers of Morulem and Lotubae irrigation schemes in Lokori-Kochodin ward, Turkana East Sub-County.

“The County Government will engage different development partners to seek support to tame increased farm invasion by the Mathenge plant. Partnership with World Food Programme has paid off in several irrigation schemes in Loima Sub-County,” he said.

Aemu also assured farmers of Government’s commitment to improve farm infrastructure including the river protection work along river Kerio, provision of seeds and tractors to help ploughing farm land ahead of the planting season.

He said county Engineers will soon visit the site to assess the situation of the dykes, and draw a new design for River Kerio protection works now that the river seems to have changed the course.

CEC Aemun called for prioritization of sorghum and groundnuts growing due to its ready market availability.

County Director for Agriculture Paul Lokone said that his docket through the Agri-business directorate would connect farmers to potential buyers to enable them sell their produce to generate income.

He added that they will provide technical guidance on best seed varieties that fits the Turkana soil.

The team also met enumerators who were recently recruited to register farmers who will benefit from e-voucher programme that’s being supported by the National Government’s Ministry of Agriculture.

The e-voucher system, which is being done in 25 counties including Turkana is intended to support farmers with inputs through the agro-vets. The Government will cater for 40 per cent of the cost and the balance will be shouldered by the registered farmers.

It will be undertaken in Kaputir and Lokori-Kochodin wards of Turkana South and Turkana East Sub-counties respectively.

CEC Aemun emphasized on the need by the team from the National Government to do more sensitization to farmers on farm inputs cost-sharing plan to manage expectations of the project as well as its sustainability.

He noted that priorities of selected counties are different hence the need to strengthen engagement with benefiting farmers.

Morulem irrigation scheme chairman Philip Esinyen called for mechanical and farm inputs support from the County Government towards their planned planting of sorghum on more than 400 acres of farm as well as milling of the sorghum crop before its release to the market this year.

At the same time Aemun has urged farmers in Turkana East Sub County to read market dynamics and demand of crops to enable them generate income from sale of their farm produce.

He informed farmers of existing investors who are ready to procure in bulk, tonnes of groundnuts as well sorghum from Turkana.

Market demand and pricing which is critical for commercialized agriculture, he said, have for a long time been ignored by farmers in Turkana who are growing similar crops in large numbers forcing them to remain with the products at home because of limited market.

CEC Aemun said that the County Government was engaging food security investors who have expressed interest on Public-Private partnerships to provide capital and skills to tap profit on large scale production of selected value chains to benefit farmers.

by Peter Gitonga

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