Horticultural farmers in Trans Nzoia County have been encouraged to use hybrid seeds to reap maximum from their investment in the sector.
Speaking during a field day for horticultural farmers in Kitale town, an agricultural expert who is a specialist in molecular biology, Dr. Joshua Mugendi advised farmers to adopt hybrid seeds and new farming technologies in the growth of horticultural crops.
He said trends are changing in the growing of horticultural crops where the market demands clean seeds that are freshly produced with minimum use of chemicals.
Despite the fact that hybrid seeds are expensive, Dr. Mugendi said the return of investments per square meter is four or five times more than the Open Varieties (OPVs) that have been in the use conventionally.
The field day was held on his farm turned demo garden for disseminating new technology practices for growing horticultural crops.
The technologies are imported from developed countries of America and other European countries and are being tested in the county.
One of the technologies that farmers had an opportunity to interact with for the first time in the county is known as a hydroponic system which uses less soil medium in growing some horticultural crops especially the herbs used as salads.
Dr. Mugendi said with the hydroponic system there is minimum use of water in planting seeds as compared to what a farmer will use in the conventional method of farming where the soil is used.
According to Dr. Mugendi, the use of the system reduces the use of water by between 75 to 80 per cent. “One is able to produce more crops quite first and that the yield per square meter is much higher than when done conventionally in the field,” he noted.
Some of the crops grown using the hydroponic technology are coriander, lettuce among others. He says the technology enables farmers to produce clean vegetables on whatever size of the farm they have even those living in the urban centres.
Mugendi has also established a modern professional seed raiser or nursery where seeds are raised under hygienic, less soil medium and controlled temperatures.
He said the purpose of establishing the modern seed raiser nursery is to prepare seedlings for farmers that will increase yields, resistance to diseases and minimal use of chemicals to control diseases.
“We actually use high health protocols to raise our seedlings which perform very well when transferred to the normal soils and the environment. After raising our seedlings we take them through a process called acclimatizing or hardening them so that they can be ready,” he said.
One of the farmers Josephine Ongoma says she reaped Sh. 585 000 from cabbages on two acres of land after using modern technologies learnt from Growpact company. She said she sold maize she was growing and got Sh. 160 000 which she invested in growing horticultural crops.
Mrs. Ongoma who is a veterinary doctor says she has land in Uasin Gishu and Kakamega counties where she plants horticultural crops, maize and pasture. As compared to the returns from maize and pasture, she says she reaps maximum from growing horticultural crop.
By Moses Wekesa