Over 7, 000 farmers in Kisumu County are set to benefit from a free rapid soil testing campaign to enable them to take remedial measures to boost food production in the area.
The exercise spearheaded by the Kenya Crops and Dairy Market Systems (KCDMS) targets to equip farmers with the right information about soil nutrition to make informed decisions regarding fertilisation and crop selection.
This comes after results of soil samples taken from different parts of the county revealed that it was acidic, resulting in poor yields.
KCDMS Technical Director Seth Yake said the campaign targets to sensitise farmers on the importance of soil testing to understand what is required to get optimum yields.
He said that even though the uptake of fertilisers in the area was commendable, farmers lacked information on the right type of fertiliser for their soils to maximise yields.
“We have seen from the tests that have been done in this region that the soils are very acidic. This means farmers must take very deliberate steps to amend this by improving the pH to the required level to increase productivity,” he said.
Speaking during the launch of the campaign in Kisumu, Yake said the exercise, which runs up to September 14, 2023, would help the farmers understand the limitations of their soil and make efforts to bridge the gaps.
He revealed that KCDMS, which is under a USAID-funded Feed the Future Initiative, was working closely with the county government and agro dealers to ensure as many farmers as possible could access soil testing services to boost food production.
He challenged the private sector to take up soil testing to reach more farmers and create job opportunities for youth.
“There is potential for the youth to be engaged in this testing that we are rolling out. By the private sector procuring the gadgets that we are using to test, they are able to create employment for the youth, thus creating a sustainable ecosystem in agribusiness,” he said.
Besides Kisumu, he said, the testing was also being carried out in Kisii, Kakamega, Busia, Bungoma, Vihiga, and Siaya counties.
The culmination of the campaign, he said, will involve setting up soil testing clinics in all seven counties.
Manned by qualified technicians and agronomists, the clinics, he said, will provide farmers with immediate, personalized soil reports and recommendations.
He divulged that the campaign targets to test at least 200 samples per ward in Kisumu and issuing comprehensive results to farmers.
Kisumu County Chief Officer in Charge of Agriculture Erick Omondi said the campaign is expected to traverse the 35 wards in the devolved unit, sensitising and training farmers on soil testing and management.
The exercise, he said, would go a long way in empowering farmers with the right steps to take through the application of the required fertiliser to improve their soils and boost production.
“Farmers apply fertiliser without knowing the state of their soil in terms of nutrient availability. This exercise will create a knowledge base for our farmers on what their soil lacks and what is required to correct the anomaly,” he said.
Nehemiah Odongo, a partner in the campaign, said 3, 000 samples taken from the area so far indicate that the soil pH level ranged between 5.5%-5.7% which is too acidic.
He urged farmers to take advantage of the free soil testing exercise to better understand their soils and boost yields.
The soil testing campaign caravan, he said, had moved on Wednesday from Kisumu city to Rabuor, Ahero, Katito, Sondu, Godmesa, Obor, Lower Nyakach, Ongou, and Pap Onditi.
On Thursday, the team will visit Kiboswa, Nyahera, Maseno, Lwanda, Akala, Kolenyo, Kombewa, and Holo.
On Friday, the team will host soil testing clinics at Kombewa Market in Seme Sub-County and Sondu Market in Nyakach Sub-County.
By Chris Mahandara