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Soil testing for better yields

The Kenya Crops and Dairy Market System (KCDMS) has embarked on conducting soil tests in Western Kenya in order to advise farmers on the best crop husbandry practices.

The KCDMS Chief of Party, Judy Odongo, said they were seeking to know the soil’s acidity or alkalinity levels (PH) in order to establish the best fertilisers for each region.

She said the organisation was undertaking the exercise in nine counties, including Homa Bay, Bungoma, Kakamega, Kisii, Migori, Kisumu, Busia, Vihiga, and Siaya.

She noted that agriculture experts have raised concerns that the food basket areas continue to realise low yields because of the use of inappropriate farm inputs.

“The KCDMS, with the support of US-Aid, has partnered with the nine county governments to address the challenge by undertaking the tests before they advise farmers on the best fertilisers to use to improve food security,” she explained.

Homa Bay Governor Gladys Wanga and her Deputy Oyugi Magwanga assured that farmers will start implementing the advice of KCDMS in the next planting season.

“Both the rapid and comprehensive soil tests are going to be done within three weeks. Farmers are going to be given results on their soil PH so that they use appropriate fertiliser for crop production,” Odongo said.

Speaking Wednesday during the flagging off of the exercise in Homa Bay town, Odongo said a report released in 2014 showed that most soils in Kenya’s agricultural areas have a pH level of less than five.

“We want to enhance food security by promoting soil health intervention,” she added, noting that after the tests, farmers will be able to identify the best crops to grow. KCDMS targets to conduct 8, 000 rapid tests.

Governor Gladys Wanga said her administration will use the exercise to exploit the propagation of emerging value chain crops that it wants to promote, including palm oil, cotton, sunflower, and rice.

Wanga directed the county agricultural extension officers to use the opportunity to identify suitable places where the emerging crops can be grown, noting that the economic potential of the county lies in agriculture.

“We’re committed to supporting farmers in promoting food security. Homa Bay government is taking the exercise seriously to empower our people economically,” Wanga said.

She stressed that they do not want to repeat the previous mistakes where crops were grown without understanding the soil’s PH.

“Let our farmers and residents comply so they can know the right crop that they need to grow for better yields,” she said.

By Davis Langat

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