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Soil nutrition crucial to a good harvest- crop scientist

Farmers must ensure their soils have the right nutrients before planting to realize maximum yields.
A renowned crop scientists Dr. Charles Waturu said even quality seeds would not perform if planted in poor soils adding most farmers went for certified seeds without minding about soil nutrition. He said it was only after combining the two a farmer should expect high yields and quality crop.
Waturu was speaking during a visit to a BT cotton farmer in Kirinyaga County where a section of the shamba appeared unfertile due to the tinny cotton crops which appeared to have been planted on poor soils.
The KALRO Research Scientist advised farmers that just like a newborn must be fed with the proper diet in order to grow healthy, so are crops adding,“Before planting farmers are advised to go for certified seeds, and carry out proper land preparation which includes putting manure in anticipation for a good harvest,” he said.

Employees of the research center busy tending the BT cotton crop at the research field in Kimbimbi Mwea

The team was on a two day tour of the cotton growing areas among them Busia, Bungoma and Teso South where some farmers have since started to harvest the first BT crop.
Farmers in the area have since become pioneers in planting the BT cotton after the government gave a nod to the commencement of the commercialization of this genetically modified crop.
Waturu carried out the first field trials for the crop in 2001 at the Karlo, Kimbimbi center where it performed above expectations but the move was shelved by the government.
This was after the government banned any planting or use of GMOs in the country resulting in Waturu efforts going down the drain until recently when the ban was lifted and the researchers gave a nod to ask farmers to embark on the BT cotton commercialization.
The government has also revamped the Rivatex East Africa Ltd, Eldoret to offer market to cotton farmers. Currently the ultra- modern factory is depending on imported cotton from Uganda and Tanzania in order to meet the demand for quality fabric.
Farmers from East of the Rift Valley will start planting the BT cotton this season and are urging the government to assist them access the certified seeds.
The Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB) and the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA)where Dr. Margaret Karambu is the Chair and CEO respectively have been credited for the success of the BT cotton project in the country.
Dr. Waturu on the other hand has been engaged in the research for this fiber crop for a record 20 years while based at Thika after he left Mwea

By Irungu Mwangi

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