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Farmers advised to test soil ahead of planting season

The government has called upon farmers in the country to undertake soil testing before this year’s planting season to identify the pH and the nutrients that are deficient or sufficient for the soil needs to achieve the correct balance.

Speaking during this year’s Long-Rains Fertilizer Subsidy Programme launch at the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) Kericho depot, the Director of Tea Board of Kenya,Wekesa Khisa underscored the significance of soil-testing saying it guides the farmer on the fertilizer and other relevant inputs and quantity required to achieve the best yield.

According to the Director, the soil texture, colour and structure are often easy to identify, but chemical composition requires a diagnosis carried out through a soil test after which farmers could get an insight into the nutritional requirements of their crops.

Meanwhile, Kericho County Commissioner Mr. Gilbert Kitiyo who flagged off the distribution of the government subsidized fertilizers disclosed that NCPB depots in Kericho town, Kipkelion, and Kedowa each had received a total of 1800 bags of the subsidized fertilizers which registered farmers can access at Sh2500 per 50kg bag.

“The government has provided subsidized fertilizers at all NCPB depots to ensure that all registered farmers in Kericho totaling 155,750 can now purchase the important commodity in preparation for the planting season,” Kitiyo said

The County Commissioner also urged farmers to be on the lookout and report any unscrupulous person repackaging the fertilizers for sale saying legal action would be taken against them, stressing that it is illegal to repackage and sell government-subsidized fertilizers.

At the same time, the Kericho County Chief Officer in charge of Agriculture and Fisheries Ms. Betsy Chebet assured farmers that they would easily access the subsidized fertilizers at the already established and set aside depots in all the six Sub-Counties.

Ms Chebet also called on farmers to cooperate with the Agricultural Extension Officers on the ground to benefit from training and guidance on the best agricultural practices for maximum production.

“We are also encouraging farmers whose details have not been captured to go for the registration exercise which is ongoing at Agricultural offices in the County, Sub-County, and Ward levels. Registration will ensure farmers’ details are in the national database of all farmers which includes identity, profile, location, crop acreage, and fertilizer requirements,” added Ms. Chebet

The Agriculture Chief Officer explained that farmers can purchase the fertilizer through a short code, *707# upon which they would be identified together with the size of their land captured during registration.

The farmers would then be required to choose the planting fertilizer they needed, pay through a mobile phone, and receive an e-voucher in the form of an SMS, which they would present at the depot to pick up their fertilizers.

The national government has prioritized the distribution of subsidized fertilizers to increase productivity to improve food security in the country, which is key to Kenya Kwanza’s administration.

By Kibe Mburu and Sharon Chepkurui

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