Cotton farmers from the dry Ndalani area in Yatta Sub-County are hopeful of getting high quality produce after receiving free pesticides to contain pests and diseases that have been attacking cotton bolls.
More than 300 farmers drawn from the semi-arid parts of Kisiiki, Mavoloni, Kwandolo, Ndalani areas had recently taken up the growing of cotton as their cash crop after years of frustrations due to poor harvests of maize and beans.
They said the provision of chemicals was timely and will save the farmers from destruction. They received Sh200, 000 worth of pesticides from fabric maker, Thika Cloths Mills Ltd.
They had planted the BT cotton variety that was introduced in the area in December after delayed supply of subsidized seeds, and despite low rains over the period, they are hopeful of good harvests later this month.
“Some worms had started attacking the bolls and we were worried. Despite seeking for government intervention nothing was forthcoming. However, we are now relieved,” said their patron Francis Kilango.
He said some farmers could not afford the pesticides as they were financially unstable due to the corona virus pandemic.
Kilango welcomed the introduction of the new BT variety in the area saying it matured fast and needed less pesticides compared to the ordinary ones that they were used to.
David Kaloki, from Kisiiki area planted the new variety in his two acres piece of land, and is certain of a bumper harvest.
He received Sh130, 000 last year after selling his cotton and is hopeful to triple the amount from the new fast maturing and high producing BT variety.
“When I started planting cotton, I never thought it was this well-paying. In the last season, I got more money from the sale of cotton than what I have been getting from selling maize and beans for over five years. This is now my new cash crop,” he said during the supply of the pesticides yesterday.
In February, the farmers formed the Ndalani Farmers’ Cooperative Society to consolidate all the cotton grown in the area, streamline marketing and for acquisition of farm inputs.
Their target is to have a cotton ginnery constructed in the area to cut production and transportation costs to enable them fetch good profits.
“Cotton is slowly turning to be cash crop of this area and we call on all residents to embrace it. Due to the erratic rains being received in Ukambani region, those who depend on maize and beans will continue being frustrated. We need another cash crop to drive poverty out of the region,” said Kilango.
By Muoki Charles