Rongo University in Migori County has become the first University in Nyanza and the Western regions to have a soil analysis laboratory facility.
The facility, one of its kind, was constructed through government sponsorship under National Research Fund (NRF) at a cost of Sh23 million. This also included the purchase of equipment to be used in the facility.
The project is aimed at supporting farmers in the region in doing proper soil research analysis to make the right decisions when planting and deciding the most preferred type of seeds.
Speaking during the launch, State Department for University Education and Research Principal Secretary Amb Simon Nabukwesi said that the facility will help in giving appropriate advice to farmers and help in maintaining food production.
“Our people being crop farmers needs to understand the type of soils, what needs to be done with the soils and what needs to be added to increase productivity,” he said.
He added that universities have resources including skilled human resources who only need facilitation so that they can reach out and partner with key stakeholders in the agricultural industry as well as farmers.
Amb Nabukwesi noted that the main focus of NRF is on empowering universities and other high learning institutions to carry out research that will impact the socio-economic lives of local people.
“The NRF key focus is on empowering universities in doing research to help farmers in sustainable food production,” said the PS.
He further said that proper understanding of soil nature and contents will ensure its proper utilisation and also mitigate climate change effects which hence will maximise food production and security for the country.
The chair Rongo University Council Dr Rachel Masake noted that Rongo University other than encouraging ventures in other fields, their main priority has always been to strengthen agriculture in the country.
“Our priority has always been to see that what comes out of Rongo University research is going to be useful for this nation,” remarked Dr Masake.
She added that the kind of research that is going to be done at the facility will help address some of the challenges associated with inconsistent crop production witnessed in the western region.
However, she lamented that as a university-based in a rural setting they are tasked with looking around the surroundings to see what action can be taken to improve the life of the people, which sometimes is challenging.
Rongo University Vice-Chancellor Professor Samual Gudu outlined that as a university they have been having contacts with farmers, encouraging them to bring their soil samples for lab analysis so that they get advised accordingly on any soil challenge.
“We have allowed farmers to sample their soil and bring it to us for analysis,” said Prof. Gudu. “We will then go back and explain to them what needs to be done to improve the yield, what is missing and the quantity to put in,” he explained.
The partnership of Rongo University and Sony Sugar Company has been hailed as one of the key supportive initiatives in terms of soil analysis which has helped sugarcane farmers on the best fertiliser to be used.
By Polycarp Ochieng and George Agimba