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County targets 70,000 hectares of maize plantation in the coming season

Migori County through the department of agriculture and cooperative development has hastened the registration of farmers to benefit from the government’s subsidised fertiliser.

The move is aimed at tripling the number of farmers to get subsidised fertiliser so as to increase maize crop production across the county.

According to the County Director of crops production, James Masisa, Migori is targeting to have 70,000 acres of land under maize plantation, an increase from half the number witnessed from the previous planting season.

Masisa noted that the collaboration of national and county governments under the agriculture sector will ensure the country is supplied with enough food. To achieve this, he stressed that early preparation of farmers which entails early planting is crucial.

Last season during the short rains, Migori County had a total of 49 400 hectares of maize. This low capacity was due to the high cost of production especially the cost of fertiliser, which discouraged farmers from planting.

“For us to succeed, we have to prepare from the word go. We don’t want to see our farmers’ plant late. Delayed planting will result in low yields. We have to plant early and get fertilizer in time,” he underscored.

Speaking to Kenya News Agency in Migori town, the chief officer of agriculture and cooperative development, John Michael Midwa, outlined that the subsidised fertiliser initiative which was launched by the national government in collaboration with the county government seeks to lower production costs.

Out of 47 counties in the country, Migori is among the 12 counties that will have its farmers benefit from the subsidised fertilizer having been ranked among the top ten counties with high agricultural productions and standing at 3 per cent.

Narok County is ranked in the top with 12 per cent agricultural production of maize.

Midwa noted that the deadline for registration which was slated for this week Friday 27 January, has been extended to make the process continuous thus most farmers get to be registered. Currently, the county has registered only 19,000 farmers versus the actual target of 174,000 farmers.

As opposed to the initial registration process which involved chiefs going out to register farmers, they will now be required to visit chiefs and sub-chiefs to have their details captured.

The officer cleared doubts over the number of fertiliser bags that each farmer will get regardless of the size of their farm. Instead, he assured farmers will get fertilizer equal to the number of acreages registered.

“I want to assure farmers that for every acreage of land, they shall have registered in this phase one, they will get an allocation of subsidised fertilizer equal to it,” said Midwa.

He continued: “This is not only restricted to farmers alone but even farmer organisations and other cooperative groups are eligible for this program.”

On soil sampling to determine the right fertiliser for the type of soil for maize growing, the government has already done sampling and established the right type of fertilizer for maize production in the selected regions.

The introduction of cheap and subsidised fertiliser by the national government will ensure more farmers are encouraged to plant more and hence high maize production to cushion the county from hunger.

Midwa noted that the county is headed in the right direction agriculture-wise for having set funds to operationalise several projects. Among them is the operationalisation of the Getonganya sweet potation processing plant, where the county has set aside Sh15 million as seed capital. The project is to be implemented towards the end of February.

With a low number of extension officers currently experienced in the agricultural department, Midwa outlines that the county is set to do mass recruitment of extension officers to boost work output.

By Polycarp Ochieng and George Agimba


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