Farmers in the country have been urged to use certified seeds to increase their yield which would not only improve their income but also ensure that the country is food secure.
The director, Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (KALRO) Kitale Dr. Joyce Malinga said studies had shown that use of certified seeds would significantly impact on the yield of crops especially cereals.
Speaking in Tambach ward of Elgeyo Marakwet County, Dr. Malinga said for a long time farmers in the country have been using farm saved seeds which has impacted negatively on the harvest.
“For a long time, farmers have been using farm saved seeds. That is seeds that are grown, harvested and planted again, but I want to tell them that if you buy certified seeds, then you will not see hunger nor harvest one bag per acre,” she said.
Noting that good yield came from buying seeds from licensed agrovets, the director called on farmers to invest in their farms for them to break even saying using farm saved seeds a farmer could get only a bag but certified seeds would see their yield grow up to 10 bags per acre.
Dr. Malinga said her organization had received Sh50 million from Harvest Plus (an NGO) which they used to train farmers, seed multipliers and extension officers on the production of nyota, a type of beans fortified with iron and orange sweet potatoes in the county.
Through the funding, they have managed to produce 65 metric tonnes of nyota variety seeds which have been handed over to 20,000 households who have already planted and harvested.
“We have also managed to bulk 20 acres under the rapid multiplication of orange fleshed sweet potatoes variety under farmer management who produce them at their cost and disseminate them to other farmers,” she said.
She said her organization was now working on Punda and Saitoti variety of beans which she hoped would be released to the market soon.
The KALRO deputy director general in charge of crops Dr. Felista Makini said she hoped that the county would now promote the beans and sweet potato seeds and ensure that they reached farmers in other wards which were not covered by the programme.
She hailed the establishment of farmer field schools where farmers are involved in a hands on training and adopt what is working according to their conditions saying this ensures that there is demand driven technology.
The chief officer in the department of agriculture Edwin Seroney called on residents to prioritize the funding of the agriculture department during budgeting to ensure that other farmers benefit.
He said iron deficiency had been identified as a public health problem in the county hence the importance of ensuring that farmers accessed the iron fortified beans and sweet potatoes.
James Mutwol, an orange fleshed sweet potato seed multiplier, expressed satisfaction with the crop saying it had improved his life and that of his family economically saying they had even constructed an iron roofed house as previously they lived in a grass thatched house.
Betsy Koech one of the members of the farmer field school said the covid-19 pandemic had slowed down their activities saying currently they are 15 members but they would have been more.
By Alice Wanjiru