Farmers in Murang’a County are advised on post-harvest storage amid the threats of chilly weather.
Cold weather exposes beans to rot, sprout or change colour hence affecting marketing value as buyers prefer the original shiny colour of dried beans, explained Murang’a County Crop Development Officer, Mr Joseph Kahiu.
Speaking to KNA in his office, Kahiu advised farmers to uproot the already dry beans from farms and take the necessary precautions to salvage the harvest.
The Officer noted that beans should be harvested when the weather is hot and dry and threshed then stored but the chilly weather currently being experienced in the county poses numerous challenges to many farmers
“Farmers should store the uprooted beans under shade or keep them covered with polythene paper to protect them from rain,” Kahiu advised.
The Crops Officer noted that although it is usually cold around this time of the year, in previous years it’s normally dry unlike this time round when rain keeps drizzling.
He however observed that the slight precipitation that is being experienced is actually good for the maize crop that is still in the farms.
The officer stated that in an effort to increase production of beans, the county government has collaborated with International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) to provide local farmers with fast growing and drought resistant beans.
“In this project known as dryland seed multiplication programme, farmers groups are issued with seeds for free and expected to give back a similar quantity after harvesting,” Kahiu added.
The officer also observed that erratic weather affects the growth of crops right from planting to harvesting adding that the cold weather favours the multiplication of pests.
Harvesting of Irish potatoes on the other hand the officer noted was not adversely affected by the weather because most farmers in Murang’a are small scale and can therefore easily transport the harvested potatoes to storage.
Kahiu however noted that one of the common challenges facing potato farming was the lack of quality seeds, a factor that saw many farmers resort to using recycled seeds.
He stated that quality potato seeds were quite expensive and there is also a supply shortage in the country.
The other major challenge facing potato farming is the bacterial yield disease that affects even the quality seeds when they are already planted
Kahiu stated that there is no cure for the disease that is affecting the national potato production potential.
“This disease can only be managed using crop rotation and this is a challenge in Murang’a because most of the farms are relatively small,” Kahiu said.
Murang’a County has a wide network of agricultural officers who offer post-harvest management training to groups and even individual farmers.
By Anita Omwenga and Purity Mugo