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Farmers urged to embrace horticultural crops

Farmers in Migori County have been advised to embrace horticulture farming in addition to their longtime tradition of growing maize, tobacco and sugarcane.

This, according to a farmers’ association, will help them earn maximum income and better life.

Area chairman of horticulture farming association, Mr. Francis Chacha, said that crops such as passion fruits, vegetables and tomatoes ensured good income to farmers since they post earnings on a daily or weekly basis.

Speaking during a passion fruit farming exhibition at Mabera in Kuria West Sub County yesterday, Mr. Chacha noted that such crops have ready markets throughout the year in the country and abroad as opposed to other farm products like maize.

He regretted the apathy the local farmers have on horticulture farming even with the numerous problems they encounter in maize and Sugarcane farming in the past years.

The official said that the production of fruits and vegetables was still very low in the region since almost 99 per cent of the local farmers engage in planting maize, tobacco and maize in large scale.

“Horticulture fruits have a wider market which spreads from Nairobi to Kampala and to Dar-Es- Salaam in the neighbouring country Tanzania. You better grab this opportunity by putting much of your land under fruits and vegetable growing,” he told the farmers attending the one-day exhibition.

Chacha said the exhibition provided an opportunity to farmers to learn the latest technologies in horticulture farming through irrigation, greenhouse and shade nets farming.

The call comes at a time when tobacco, maize and sugar farming are facing hard times in production and sales following the sharp increase in farm inputs like fertilizers, seeds and pesticides besides lack of markets.

Currently, tobacco farmers in the region are a pale shadow of what they were thirty years back where the crop was the sole product and earned them their livelihood, with caring companies like British American Tobacco (BAT) lending their support to all farmers.

The same mood is also sweeping among sugarcane and maize farmers who in the early 80s ripped good earnings as a result of good cane prices with very low farm input prices, contrary to now where production costs are much higher than come.

“It is this reason why agricultural experts are today advocating for a big shift in crop production habits among farmers of this region by planting horticultural crops that are fast income earners and easy to handle and sell,” stressed Chacha.

By George Agimba

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