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Plant fast maturing crops, farmers urged

Farmers in Murang’a County have been urged to seek advice from agricultural officers on the best crops to plant during the expected short rainy season.

The county meteorological officer, Mr. Paul Murage has cautioned that the expected rains will be below average, urging farmers to plant fast maturing crops and employ smart farming technologies that may assist the crops to withstand the depressed rains.

Speaking when he met agricultural officers in a sensitization forum, Murage observed that the onset of the season will be by end of this month, while the rain cessation will be before December 25.

“We expect the rains to last for less than 60 days and we urge farmers not to heavily invest in their farms, but plant crops which take a short time to mature like legumes,” he said.

The expected depressed rains will worsen the drought situation in the county, which has occasioned scarcity of food and fodder for livestock.

Reduced seasonal rainfall amounts, late onset, early cessation and poor distribution is likely to negatively affect agricultural production, especially in lower and middle zones.

Some crops like beans among other types of legumes mature within a short period and if farmers are well advised, they may plant crops, which take two months to mature,” he added.

Some parts of the county, Murage observed, will receive less than 300 millimeters of rain, which cannot support crops like maize.

“Despite the season lasting for less than two months, the rains will be poorly distributed, thus marred by intervals of consecutive dry days. Upper zones of the county which usually receive more than 650mm of rain, this time round the areas are expected to receive less than 500 mm,” explained the Director.

Murage called upon the agricultural officers to train farmers on how to adopt smart agricultural technologies like mulching saying farmers should plant early before the onset of the rains.

“Dry planting will be important so that when the rains start, the seeds will germinate within a short period of time. Irrigation is also much needed, but unfortunately water levels in our rivers have gone down due to prolonged drought,” he added.

The forecast on poor rains comes at a time when more than 200, 000 households in Murang’a are currently facing hunger.

The county government with some national government departments held a discussion last week, on how to start distribution of relief food to the affected families.

By Bernard Munyao

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