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Quality seeds, digital technology boost crop production

Farmers and industry players in the central region have been asked to embrace technologies in agriculture, specifically seed and digital technology.

Speaking during an expo-exhibition for farmers in Thika, Dr. Robert Musyoki, Director Seeds at the Kenya Agricultural Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), said farming Technologies produced in KALRO are being introduced to the farmers especially at this time when the planting season for the long rains is just about to start.

“The technologies that farmers will learn will be fresh in their minds especially at this time they are planning to plant their crops. They will have a choice of the seed variety they want to plant. In farming you have to get it right from the seeds. If you get it wrong you will not get yields you expect,” he stated.

Dr. Musyoki further said KALRO has a digital platform that can assist farmers on the right crop to grow, the most suitable and how to manage it.

Through agro-ecology which has classifications in mind, the varieties recommended have space in this era of climate change mitigations and there the farmers will be able to plant the right variety in the right place.

He gave an example of maize varieties that are for low lands, mid altitude and high altitude and can be planted in those areas.

“We also have a bean corridor where one gets the areas that are most suitable for the grain, a bean like nyota variety can do better everywhere,” Dr. Musyoki explained.

He noted that seed availability is not a challenge in the country since most private companies are working agro dealers to make sure that the seed reaches up to the village level.

“KALRO is working with partners to ensure we reach farmers in the villages and access seeds,” he said.

Dr. Lusike Wasilwa, Director Crop’s system at KALRO said they have been promoting crops that can still yield even if there is crop failure or effects of rains which sometimes are insufficient.

“During this exhibition, we have been promoting crops such as sweet potatoes, grains, sorghum, pearl millet which are drought hardy including the indigenous vegetable and TEFF which is a new baby for KALRO,” she said.

Dr. Wasilwa explained that in this era of climate change, farmers need to look beyond so that the country can have food even if the rains fail.

Sammy Kipchumba, Field Technical office from Fresco said they have been training farmers on how to embrace tissue culture technology, as well as ensuring that farmers can access quality seeds.

“The nation has previously had a serious shortage of access to quality certified seeds with our research showing that only about 5 per cent of Kenya farmers are using certified seeds while the rest which is 95 per cent are using recycled seeds, reducing their production by about 70 per cent,” he said.

Kipchumba noted that as a large company, they have partnered with KALRO to ensure there is enough supply of good seeds to farmers across the country.

“Under the PPP we have partnered with KALRO and are selling their technologies across the country and we want to work with all counties especially from these regions where agribusiness booms,” Kipchumba said.

He noted that they are also encouraging young farmers to venture into the new farming technologies such as the potato production which can employ around 3.3 million youth just to venture into its value chain.

Denis Mukita, an upcoming young farmer who had visited the exhibition urged the youth to look at different avenues of getting income other than the white-collar jobs.

“Our economy is driven by manufacturing and Agriculture and the main one is agriculture as it contributes much to the GDP and I think, that is where money is. Youth should have an open mind to try new things in agriculture technology in the era of internet,” he said.

During the exhibition, he expressed hope saying he had learnt a lot and said he will be venturing into Dragon fruit in Kilimambogo area and this he said will be good as it will in a way contribute to the economy.

By Wangari Ndirangu

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